WomensDayQuoteThe following piece is part of our ‘Women Around the World Inspiring Change’ blog series that will run until Mother’s Day 2014. We started with a women’s group in Nogales, Mexico Hogar de Esperanza y Paz/Home of Hope and Peace (HEPAC).

Our next post, titled, Women’s Equality and Food Sovereignty: Solutions Found in Chiapas, Mexico, featured Global Exchange’s 2014 International Human Rights Award honoree, María Estela Barco Huerta, an incredible leader of DESMI (Desarrollo Económico Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas), based in Chiapas, Mexico.

This third post highlights a partnership between the Fair Trade company, Equal Exchange, and women in the 10 primary societies of Gumutindo Coffee Co-op in Uganda.


GX_MomGoMThis Mother’s Day, Global Exchange has teamed up with Equal Exchange with a great box of gifts to show your mom, or any mom, some Fair Trade love. By setting her up with at Global Exchange gift of membership for a year, we’ll also send out:

  • a Putumayo “Women of the World” music CD;
  • a dark chocolate with caramel crunch and sea salt bar from Equal Exchange (3.5 oz);
  • a stylish, handmade tagua seed necklace from a women’s Fair Trade cooperative in Colombia; and
  • a tin of Proud Mama Coffee from Equal Exchange (14 oz.)

And this tin of Proud Mama coffee has a story …

When Beth Ann Caspersen from Equal Exchange explains it, she genuinely sounds like she didn’t know what she was getting in to when she returned from her first trip to Uganda in 2010. Working with Equal Exchange, which supports small farmers around the world by participating in the Fair Trade system, she traveled to Mount Elgon to meet with growers who cultivate for various blends of Equal Exchange coffee, including Proud Mama.


When she returned to the United States, she began to brainstorm about how Equal Exchange could deepen the impact of Fair Trade and support a project that would draw on the existing structures the women were working with, and would be meaningful to family life and sustainable for the community in the long run.

She reflected that while spending time with the women, she noticed:

“[T]hat as the primary caretakers in these villages, the women spend a lot time in the kitchen. As is the tradition in Uganda, the kitchen is an enclosed space that usually lacks light or ventilation. Picture a small fire in the corner of a room that is filled with smoke. It is a difficult place to prepare food for the family; the smoke burns your eyes, fills your lungs and makes it a very unattractive place to work, let alone spend time with your family. Each fire can accommodate only one pot, sometimes two, but to manage both and keep the meal moving is difficult and time consuming.”

img_1481And so began The Stove Project. Starting quickly with the small sum of $4,000 and working with the community and advisors, a small, but focused, project got off the ground to immediately improve health and provide skills training for leaders of the women’s groups, by building energy-efficient stoves in 50 homes in two different communities.

The Stove Project is not just simple one-way charity. In line with Fair Trade principles, the new stoves are more than just a tool for the kitchen. Already, Beth Ann has seen three substantial impacts beyond the hopes of helping women in Mount Elgon.

  • The new stoves have reduced the amount of firewood necessary to cook by 50 percent, meaning household savings have gone up, meaning more support for other needs.
  • The new stoves are a time saver – multiple dishes can be cooked at the same time. For example, women have said that water for tea boils water faster, which means more time to enjoy a break.
  • The new stoves provide a smoke-free and warmer environment that is safer for everyone. With the design addition of a metal pipe that filters the smoke out of the house family members spend more time together in the warm kitchens.


Try these amazing Equal Exchange chocolate bars--woops, looks like someone already has!

My favorite Equal Exchange chocolate bar so far… soon to be devoured!

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, so I’ve been thinking a lot about 1) the people I love, and 2) how much I love chocolate. I confess, I probably won’t be changing my chocolate buying practices around Valentine’s Day—but only because I already eat Fair Trade chocolate two or three times a week!

My new favorite is the Organic Mint Chocolate with a Delicate Crunch from Equal Exchange—this chocolate bar is so good, and reminds me of those Andes chocolate mints I used to get at restaurants as a kid. (Let me know in the comments if there’s another Fair Trade chocolate bar I just have to try!)

Some people stress about finding the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, but not to worry, the Global Exchange Fair Trade stores have a great selection from handmade soapstone hearts and jewelry to Fair Trade chocolate, of course.

You may already have an answer for why buying Fair Trade chocolate is better for your loved ones, but let me share mine. I like to ask myself the question, what and who do I love? When I think about how much I love chocolate, I can proudly say I love the people who help make chocolate for me to consume a reality.

Daniel Santo, of the COCABO co-operative in Panama. Photo courtesy of La Siembra & Dary Goodrich of Equal Exchange.

Daniel Santo, of the COCABO co-operative in Panama. Photo courtesy of La Siembra & Dary Goodrich of Equal Exchange.

I love supporting farmers who work hard to produce high quality cocoa, and I recognize that families and communities still struggle to provide a livelihood for themselves and their children through agricultural commodities. Their attention and commitment to their work and the cocoa they produce contributes to my love of chocolate. I want cocoa producers to enjoy fair working conditions, and I don’t want my purchasing decisions to support slave labor. There’s definitely no love in that.

Fair Trade certification means that small farmers, like those in the cooperatives that work with Equal Exchange, get to make decisions on their own terms and aren’t bossed around by huge corporations into accepting unfair prices. Buying Fair Trade chocolate is about putting your money where your mouth is—if you don’t believe in forced labor and child slavery, you don’t have to support it. That’s the power of ethical economic alternatives like Fair Trade.

Come to the Global Exchange Fair Trade Stores and Make Valentines!


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This Valentine’s Day we’re excited to celebrate our love of Fair Trade with a special event at our Global Exchange Fair Trade stores: Make Your Own Fair Trade Valentine!

The when and where: Join us Saturday, February 9th in San Francisco, Berkeley, Arlington, or D.C. from 1-4 pm to make your own special Fair Trade Valentine. We’ll have lots of supplies, including markers and maybe even some glitter, plus color-your-own Fair Trade action postcards (see below for details). You just bring the love. And who knows, you might even find that special gift you’ve been searching for!

While you’re there, pick up some Fair Trade chocolate. I’ve heard eating chocolate can lower your stress level–or was it the negative effects of dementors?

Either way, share the love this Valentine’s Day by coming to see us at a Global Exchange Fair Trade store near you on Saturday, or visiting your own local Fair Trade store.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

WorldFinest-Fair-Trade-postTAKE ACTION! Did you read Zarah’s awesome post about our current Fair Trade action? Help us tell World’s Finest Chocolate that finest means Fair Trade by coloring in this great postcard at our Make Your Own Fair Trade Valentine event!

Kids everywhere love Divine Chocolate!

At Global Exchange we love to celebrate Fair Trade all the time, but this Easter, things will get even sweeter with free chocolate!

Come by anytime Saturday April 7 through Sunday April 8 and you’ll get a free piece of Fair Trade chocolate with any purchase of $20 or more at our Global Exchange Fair Trade stores. From handmade baskets to colorful spring gifts, Global Exchange is excited to help make your Spring have a positive global impact.

For some, Easter means nibbling cute chocolate bunny rabbits, but for many others, especially in West African cocoa-exporting countries, chocolate is a terrible reminder of the harsh reality of child slave labor.

Global Exchange remains committed to supporting Fair Trade cocoa producers around the globe and generating a better world for all of us, kids and adults alike. You too can show your support this Easter by purchasing chocolate from two amazing Fair Trade chocolate vendors: Divine Chocolate and Equal Exchange.

What makes Divine Chocolate so divine and Equal Exchange equally as inspiring? The cooperatives that produce the cocoa, of course!

How Fair Trade has impacted the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana and CONACADO in the Dominican Republic:

Fatima Ali, proud member of Kuapa Kokoo. Photo courtesy of Kuaka Kokoo.

Just listen to the shouts of “papa paa!” from the farmers of Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana, a cocoa cooperative started in 1993 which now owns 45% of the Divine Chocolate company itself. “Papa paa” means “best of the best” in the Twi language of Ghana, and is a motto which extends beyond the high quality of the cocoa grown by the farmers and into the cooperative’s commitment to Fair Trade and the betterment of members’ lives.

The social premium that members receive through the cooperative’s  Fair Trade certification translates into real benefits for the community at large, such as clean water wells. Kuapa Kokoo also has a strong focus on gender empowerment, which means that women like Fatima Ali, a local Kuapa Kokoo Society recorder and proud owner of a 5-acre farm, can aspire to leadership positions they previously thought impossible.

CONACADO producer & the bright orange cacao pods that become chocolate bars. Photo courtesy of Equal Exchange.

For over 25 years the worker owned co-op Equal Exchange has been advocating “Small Farmers, Big Change”– and it’s working. In the Dominican Republic, Equal Exchange’s farmer partner cooperative CONACADO has been able to sell over 40% of their cacao on the Fair Trade market.  By participating in Fair Trade, CONACADO has been able to provide school supplies and scholarships for members’ children as well as launch the “Cacao Route,” an eco-tourism project that also generates local income.

One woman who came by the San Francisco store said the other day, “It’s so great that kids these days can eat really good chocolate!” It sure is! And not only that, when you buy Fair Trade chocolate it means that cocoa-producing farmers benefit.


  • Check out this awesome recipe for Chocolate Satsumas, perfect for enjoying the marvelous citrus fruits that are in season at your local farmers’ markets. Or make a delicious Earl Grey Chocolate Tea Cake for your Easter Sunday brunch–(our stores sell Fair Trade tea too!) Have a great Fair Trade chocolate recipe? Share it in the comments!
  • Don’t forget to get your free Fair Trade chocolate. Come by the San Francisco, BerkeleyArlington, VA or D.C. stores  on Saturday April 7 & Sunday April 8.

Reverse Trick-or-Treating is back for it’s fifth year to give you the opportunity to treat-n-teach your neighbors!

This Halloween, you can help end the exploitation of children in the cocoa industry and raise awareness of Fair Trade! Trick-or-Treaters will be handing Fair Trade chocolate back to adults, with informational cards attached, to explain the problems of the cocoa industry and how Fair Trade presents a solution. By providing children with a way to be active, hundreds of thousands of households in the US are getting the message that child labor and forced labor will not be tolerated by our kids.

You can take part by visiting www.reversetrickortreating.org and ordering your kit today. This year, Global Exchange is offering a limited quantity of kits to individuals so be sure to get your order in quickly! 

Each kit contains 15 mini chocolates, informational cards and an instruction leaflet. The kits are free, you pay just $7.50 for shipping, but we are asking participants to round up if they are able, to help cover costs.

If you don’t manage to get one of the kits, you can still take part! Download free flyers here and pass them out on Halloween. You can purchase Fair Trade chocolate at any of our Global Exchange Stores, or check out one of the Fair Trade companies listed below.

If you are part of a group, school or organization and want to purchase a group kit, please visit Equal Exchanges order page.

Reverse Trick-or-Treating is an initiative launched by the human rights organization Global Exchange in cooperation with Fair Trade companies Equal ExchangeSweet Earth Chocolates and Coco-Zen, and is a collaborative effort of countless children, youth, and adults supported by institutions including nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations, Fair Trade companies, and schools.

Get your kit today!

Here’s your roundup of the latest news and updates related to Fair Trade, including the new “Links Worth Checking Out” section at the end. Remember, if you’ve got Fair Trade related news to share, email me!


Photo Credit: Equal Exchange


Fair Trade has been making the rounds on TV lately. Last week Ben & Jerry’s brought Fair Trade to late night television. This week, Equal Exchange invaded reality television. The TV show The Biggest Loser slipped Fair Trade into the mix; Equal Exchange’s Organic Baking Cocoa, to be specific. The reality show cast members used the cocoa during one of the episodes to make low calorie treats. You can watch the entire episode for free online here.

Photo Credit: Village Markets of Africa

Village Markets of Africa, the Fair Trade mission of the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church, recently partnered with Lutheran affiliate Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH to make its Fair Trade business model a hands-on case study for Wittenberg’s entrepreneurial department curriculum.

This partnership will teach business students the social ethics of Fair Trade and provide them real world work experience so they are prepared to make a positive change when they graduate and enter the workforce. Many universities have gotten involved in the Fair Trade movement, but according to Village Markets of Africa Founder and Managing Director Jacob Schmalzle, Wittenberg University is the first to so dynamically incorporate Fair Trade into its curriculum.

Schmalzle shares this about the news:

This really is an exciting and innovative development in Fair Trade. Students at Wittenberg are visibly excited with these opportunities that combine a reputable business degree with hands-on experience in the social ethics and business of Fair Trade. It makes sense that Fair Trade education needs to take place here in the US if we are to expect our future business leaders to incorporate a Fair Trade approach in their ventures. Who knows where tomorrow’s leaders will take our Fair Trade movement!?!

For more information, visit the Village Markets of Africa website.

With Passover and Purim around the corner, Fair Trade Judaica is working with synagogues and other Jewish organizations around the U.S. to host a series of events in early-mid April, linking child labor in the cocoa fields with our Passover theme of liberation, and inspiring people to choose fair trade chocolate as an alternative.

Fair Trade Judaica will provide a DVD of The Dark Side of Chocolate (a documentary about children working in the cocoa fields in West Africa), discussion guides, educational materials and a Haggadah supplement to use at your home or organizational sedar. We are also working on a grant to support Fair Trade Kosher chocolate tastings.

For more information: email ilana@fairtradejudaica.org or call 510.926.2056.

If you’re planning to register for the 2011 Fair Trade Federation Conference in Milwaukee, WI, you’ll save yourself $100 per person if you sign up by this Friday, March 18.

This conference is all about building up Fair Trade, and it’s happening May 6-8, 2011. The conference will feature practical training on the business of Fair Trade combined with opportunities for networking and community building.

For more information: Visit FTF’s website.

Article: West Africa issues global trade deal ultimatum
Article: Ivory Coast crisis: Cocoa embargo hurting small farmers
New blog: Human Trip India, all about Fair Trade travels in India
Book: Free Trade Doesn’t Work: What Should Replace It and Why by Ian Fletcher
Press Release from Fair Trade USA: Mainstream Consumers Drive Fair Trade Certified Sales Up 24 Percent

Check back here on our Fair Trade blog for more Fair Trade News Round-Ups…your one-stop shop for current Fair Trade news and events. And if you’ve got big Fair Trade news to share, email me!

This is Part 5 in an 8-Part “Giving Thanks” series, a Global Exchange exclusive highlighting individuals (chosen by Global Exchange staff members) who are contributing to our social justice work in some way. This series will culminate with a “Giving Thanks” video to be launched right here on Wednesday, November 24th. So please join us in recognizing those special individuals who are helping to make this world a better place.

Global Exchange Fair Trade Campaign Director Adrienne Fitch-Frankel thanks Equal Exchange

Equal Exchange is a worker-owned co-op whose mission is to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate, through their success, the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.

I am a believer in old-fashioned, person-to-person organizing.  And I am a big believer in door knocking.  It is one of the actions we can take that is at the heart of our democracy.  When people created this crazy dream of democracy, they didn’t have the internet.  They talked to their neighbors in person.  It was the most powerful act you could take then, and it is the most powerful act you can take today.  But it is also a rare act today.  People do not know their neighbors.  People are even afraid of their neighbors.

Reverse Trick-orTreater in action

Soon after I started working as Global Exchange’s Fair Trade Campaign Director, I had this idea.  What is the one time of year when people will still knock on their neighbors’ doors, when they could take social justice action without adding anything to their busy schedules?  Halloween!  What if we could take that day each year to raise awareness of child labor and slavery in the cocoa industry?  We would call it Reverse Trick-or-Treating.  I imagined children all over the country handing flyers and chocolate samples out to thousands of households, but I did not believe we would ever get the funding to support that dream.

Reverse Trick-or- Treat cards

A few days after I made an off-hand comment about the Reverse Trick-or-Treating idea during a conference call on a different topic, Rodney North of the food cooperative Equal Exchange called me up and offered exactly the thing I had dreamed of.  “How would you like to do Reverse Trick-or-Treating chocolate-enhanced?” he asked me, offering a massive donation of Fair Trade chocolate and beautiful, glossy cards for children to hand out, as well as support in inviting other Fair Trade chocolate companies to donate as well. The rest is history!

Over the past 4 Halloweens, since we launched the program together with Equal Exchange and dozens of other leading organizations and Fair Trade chocolate companies, schools and congregations, Fair Trade Coalitions, and individual families…tens of thousands of children, youth, and adults from all 50 states in the US and all provinces in Canada have participated in Reverse Trick or Treating, handing out chocolates and informational cards to over 600,000 households, and reaching millions more indirectly through the tremendous media coverage that has been generated.

Equal Exchange cooperative members

The significance of Reverse Trick-or-Treating is absolutely extraordinary. The annual event has captured the imagination of and invigorated the Fair Trade movement, from the smallest to the largest Fair Trade organizations in the country.  Reverse Trick-or-Treating has taught tens of thousands of young children at a formative age that taking action for social justice is deeply gratifying, fun, and easy.  These active kids have reached out to hundreds of thousands of households that may have never otherwise heard about the tragedy of child labor and slavery in the cocoa industry, or about Fair Trade, which prohibits these practices. Hopefully Reverse Trick-or-Treating has made a difference for millions of children and families in cocoa growing communities around the world.

I am sure that I speak for everyone at Global Exchange and all the organizations and individuals that participate in Reverse Trick-or-Treating when I send our most heartfelt thanks to everyone at Equal Exchange – most importantly, my friend and collaborator Rodney North, as well as Dia Cheney and Kelsie Evans who have helped to run the program, and all of the worker-owners of the Equal Exchange cooperative who have donated to this program, for their tremendous vision in bringing Reverse Trick-or-Treating to life and generosity in donating the vast majority of the chocolate and cards and the logistical support to distribute them.  Reverse Trick-or-Treating would never have been the extraordinary success it is today if it had not been “chocolate-enhanced” under the leadership of Equal Exchange.

So thank you Rodney, Dia Kelsie and the entire Equal Exchange cooperative crew!

Equal Exchange and Global Exchange work together in other ways too. Global Exchange Fair Trade stores proudly offer lots of Equal Exchange Fair Trade chocolate, coffee and more, and Equal Exchange has participated in Fair Trade holiday caroling.

Who are YOU thankful for? Add your own thank you message in the Comments section to recognize someone you think is doing great social justice work. And if you feel so inspired, Retweet and Share this post to help spread the recognition all of our ‘Thankees’ deserve. Thank YOU.