The Fairtrade Foundation is a great place to work – but don’t just take our word for it! Hear from staff about what it’s like to work here.
David Finlay, 27, Fundraising Manager
‘You need to be passionate and motivated about the job. It’s about bringing to life the human stories.’
Funding for the Fairtrade Foundation’s every day running costs comes mainly from companies paying a licence fee (this is distinct from money that goes to farmers, as a result of their sales).
Trade justice is something I have always been passionate about. My job has given me the opportunity to contribute towards changing the world in a way I want to see. And it’s fantastic to be around like-minded people.
’ David Finlay
However, fundraising work is becoming an increasingly important source of income to effectively ‘top up’ the licence fee, allowing Fairtrade to do more campaigning work in the UK and around Europe and to support strategic projects with farming groups.
David, who sits as part of a team of five, says that their work is split between applying for funding from institutional donors – like the Department for International Development and the EU – and organising campaigns to encourage the public to donate to help Fairtrade’s work go further.
He works mainly on major projects, bidding for funding from organisations with money designated for fair trade and international development work overseas.
‘It helps to be good at numbers but you need to be passionate and motivated about the job,’ he says. ‘It’s about bringing to life the human stories.’
‘It’s a good position to be creative. You want to turn what might sound like a dry project into something that people will want to support.
David, who studied philosophy and economics at Exeter University, deals with the paperwork for bids to make sure they are in order – but also that they are engaging and convincing.
One of the highlights is definitely the time you win a bid and get money for important work. But also the range of work we do is interesting – whether it is supporting women farmers in Kenya or making cooperatives work better. And it often means working with other campaigning groups, charities and others to make a bid work.’
It means he often travels to project sites around the world to get his own view of the work that is being done and where money should be spent.
‘There is nothing to replace seeing a situation first hand. It’s something else to see a situation and speak to the people and find out the real position.’
David became interested in the cause of fair trade and trade justice after living for six months in Senegal. After working at another charity he became a volunteer at Fairtrade, and then has worked up the organisation.
‘It’s a good example of a place where people are invested in. Lots of people have started as volunteers and then become full time with us.
‘Trade justice is something I have always been passionate about. My job has given me the opportunity to contribute towards changing the world in a way I want to see. And it’s fantastic to be around like-minded people.’
Rafaela Ricardo, 25, PA to Fairtrade Foundation Directors
Rafaela knew she had to volunteer for Fairtrade as soon as she returned from a three-month trip volunteering in Honduras.
‘It had been a shocking experience,’ she says. ‘One of the things that stuck out was going to work with all our protective equipment, helmets, trousers, everything. And then the coffee pickers turned up with just vests and shorts. After eight hours they would leave scratched and stung and red and sore all over because of the wasps and ants and everything.
I feel I am learning the skills and gaining the knowledge to help and let the farmers and workers know their rights and options.
’ Rafaela Ricardo
PA to Fairtrade Foundation Directors.
‘It just showed how much we had and how little they had and the injustice of it.
After returning to the UK at the end of 2013, Rafaela immediately applied for a voluntary post at Fairtrade.
‘When I saw what was happening I just knew I had to work for Fairtrade. I had been thinking about who was doing work that could help these people.’
Since being at Fairtrade, Rafaela has worked in the schools campaigns team, filled in on reception and spent three weeks helping out in the Human Resources department. Now she has a full-time six-month contract to be PA to the directors. Her journey from volunteer to paid employee is a common one at Fairtrade.
She says: ‘My experience volunteering at the Fairtrade Foundation has been nothing short of remarkable. The organisation welcomes the volunteers whole-heartedly and every single employee makes an effort to ensure you feel a valued member of the team.
‘I have learnt a lot since I have been here. I have been fully supported and given help and advice and ways to learn and gain further experience and knowledge. My skills have developed further than I ever thought possible. I have had real hands-on experience – not just making the tea.
‘It’s really inspiring and it makes me feel good about myself.’
Rafaela, who studied Fashion Promotion & Marketing at the University for the Creative Arts, has always had an interest in the international aid and trade area, ever since hearing her mother’s stories about fleeing from Angola as a refugee in the 1970s.
Now she is getting the chance to put her passion into action.
‘I feel I am learning the skills and gaining the knowledge to help and let the farmers and workers know their rights and options,’ she says.
‘One of the highlights of working at the Foundation included meeting with our Colombian Banana Farmer Ambassador Foncho.
‘I feel extremely lucky to have been provided with this opportunity. I would say to anyone thinking of volunteering – ‘you should have no doubts – it is a brilliant place’.