How Have You Helped Hidden Entrepreneurs? Update From Traidcraft Exchange
HOW HAVE YOU HELPED HIDDEN ENTREPRENEURS THIS YEAR? TRAIDCRAFT EXCHANGE EXPLAINS…
Guest blog post from Mary Milne, Head of Campaigns and Communications at Traidcraft Exchange
As Traidcraft’s sister charity, it goes without saying that we at Traidcraft Exchange are passionate about transforming world trade for the better. Both company and charity want to drastically improve the lives of vulnerable workers at the end of the value chain and protect the planet for generations to come. But while our mission is the same, we work in different ways.
Traidcraft buy directly from producer groups in the Global South, guaranteeing them fair wages and secure trading relationships based on respect, transparency, and trust. Traidcraft Exchange, on the other hand, supports some of the world’s most vulnerable farmers, workers and artisans to build up the skills they need to earn a better, more sustainable living – whether that’s by trading internationally or in their local communities – and advocate for their rights in the corridors of power. In other words, we play different but complementary roles in the global fight for fairer trade.
Through all of our work at Traidcraft Exchange, across different continents and different cultures, we’ve seen one common theme arise time and time again – that while millions of people around the world have all the talent, drive and determination it takes to run a successful business, they lack the opportunity to do so. These people are Hidden Entrepreneurs, and last year, we launched an appeal with the backing of the UK Government to give them this opportunity.
As a charity, we are fully reliant on the generosity of people like you to make our work possible. As ever, our supporters’ generosity to our Hidden Entrepreneur appeal was astounding – your donations raised over £540,000. This total was then matched pound for pound by the UK Government, bringing the total to almost £1.1 million – a truly amazing result!
It’s all thanks to people like you that our work with Hidden Entrepreneurs around the world is now getting underway. Your donations are financing a brand-new venture to support farmers in Meru County, Kenya, to make the most of their entrepreneurial skills and earn a good living from the hard work they do every day on their farms. I visited some of them earlier this year to hear first-hand how the project is giving them hope for the future.
Misheck and his wife, Lucy, work hard on their farm to support their three children to go to school and university. He has chosen to focus on growing potatoes on his farm, because other vegetables need a lot more water and their farm is in a dry area.
“I decided to get involved because of what Traidcraft Exchange could teach us about farming, especially potatoes. We are hoping that we will have a good harvest and be able to save some money. We had training on how to store potatoes properly so as to sell them when the market price is best – just one month ago the price was 2,500 Kenyan shillings per bag, but now, it has risen to 3,000.
If you organise yourselves, you have bargaining power... as we learned from [the new project], we are now getting into groups. When people come together, they can talk one tongue.”
Alice is a widow living with her daughter and two granddaughters. Currently, farming alone doesn’t cover their basic costs and she is sometimes forced to borrow from relatives which she finds very stressful. She hopes the new project will help them earn more money from their crops.
“Coming together, we’ll be able to help each other. Through the group we can get things more cheaply, then we can divide up the seeds. It will also be easier to get training, because we’ll be in a bigger group to get hold of those services.
When I have to borrow, I find it very disturbing, because I know everyone has their own challenges. I begin to think “Why me?” and I start to remember my husband. If there are two of you it is much easier. My prayer is that I live long to take care of my grandchildren and can see them through school.”
The Hidden Entrepreneur appeal has now ended – but our work to help more and more hardworking people to get a better deal from trade is far from over. Our work in Kenya is just one example of what your support can make possible.
Thank you for continuing alongside us on this journey, and for helping people like Misheck and Alice to get a better deal for the hard work they do every day.
If you think everyone, everywhere, deserves a fair deal for their hard work – we’d love you to join our Small Steps community. Find out more at www.traidcraft.org.uk/small-steps.