In this section, Fairtrade certified producers can share experiences and best practices. Every quarter, producers tell about their practical solutions to a certain challenge. Click here for previous business, environmental, social and health case studies.
Adult Education case studies
High illiteracy rates are affecting businesses across Africa. How are Fairtrade producer organisations tackling this challenge?
Case study 1: Student counseling and the role of HR
Illiteracy was a major problem among the Sun Orange Farms’ workforce. Signing of employment contracts, training attendance, and even withdrawing cash via ATMs – simple tasks proved to be a major hurdle for many workers. Management therefore decided to start an adult education programme.
When Sun Orange Farms first launched the idea, however, most workers were not willing to attend class, citing they were way past their learning years. The management decided to introduce counseling sessions to help workers understand the importance of education. These sessions were run on individual basis by the Human Resource Manager. After successfully winning the confidence of most potential students, the classes kicked off in 2005. Even today, HR is still following the project closely, counseling students who fail to attend regularly.
Classes follow a strict curriculum, covering six categories including technical and business skills training; a literacy course; health & safety training, including AIDS awareness; and a course covering employee-specific issues like labour law, workers’ rights and human rights.
Sun Orange Farms identified a local partner to help run the adult classes. Media Works is an adult education and training provider which has assisted management in measuring the result of the programme. Media Works sends assessment and progress reports of the project on regular basis.
Students do not have to pay any fees. Sun Orange Farms has used the Fairtrade Premium fee to cover the cost of the facilitators. The general expenses include the following:
|Construction of class rooms||10,350 USD|
|Furniture for class rooms||1,380 USD|
|Payment of the facilitator (yearly)||3,680 USD|
The management is now trying to make the project self-sufficient by producing and selling work books and stationery to the students.
The workers are now able to handle their personal finances. They understand their employment conditions and contract, their rights and know how to start a grievance procedure. Overall, the programme has greatly improved the employee/employer relationship. An additional benefit has been the increase of participation in committees and meetings, demonstrating that workers feel more confident to speak up.
Case study 2: Private and open classes in Tanzania
Supervisors at Kiliflora required the help of workers to provide regular harvest reports. Delayed recordings brought to light the huge numbers of illiterate producers working on the farm. Many Kiliflora workers – from all ages – lacked basic reading and writing skills, urging management to think of a permanent solution. After deliberations, the company decided to start adult illiteracy classes, although not all workers were keen on the idea.
When Kiliflora introduced the adult education classes in 2005, some workers were too ashamed to attend. Particularly workers at an advanced age were not willing to go back to school. As a solution, Kiliflora decided to set up both open and private classes for workers. While all employees can attend the first, workers have to specifically enroll for the private classes.
Students run through the same curriculum. Apart from reading and writing exercises, the workers learn specific skills like driving, tailoring, and catering. They also learn how to work with a computer. The private classes are being held over lunch, while the open classes can be attended after working hours.
The total cost to send a worker to school is USD 285 per year, a cost which is totally covered by the company itself. Extra costs like study books need to be covered by the students.
Below is a cost breakdown of the programme.
|English course (monthly)||190 USD|
|Cookery course (monthly)||50 USD|
|Tailoring course (monthly)||30 USD|
|Computer total course of 3 months||50 USD|
|Kiswahili literacy course (monthly)||20 USD|
|Costs of constructing class rooms||172,000 USD|
The education programme is becoming increasingly popular. Today, an average of 100 students graduates annually. Kiliflora has noticed a clear impact on its business. Workers can now draft proper records during the flower harvest and update the database via computers. Some workers were even able to secure employment in the Kiliflora offices. After taking the classes and graduating successfully, Emmanuel Ezekiel, once a security guard, became a secretary.
Case study 3: Promoting higher education
Product focus: Fresh fruit and vegetables
Type: Hired labour – 3400 permanent workers
Fairtrade certified since: 2005
Contact: Karam Elwany – email@example.com
Illiterate workers at Magrabi Agriculture have been overly dependent on colleagues to understand company policies and work instructions. When the Joint Body had to decide how to invest the Fairtrade Premium, the workers suggested setting up adult education classes. Unlike at Sun Orange Farms and Kiliflora, the workers were not ashamed of attending the classes despite their advanced age – quite the opposite.
Classes started in 2004 and were an immediate success. Six years later management decided to open a school for students to continue their education. Students are required to first attend basic classes, where they learn how to read and write in Arabic. Once they receive a literacy certificate, they can proceed to the advanced-level classes, where they follow English and science courses.
Magrabi Agriculture works closely together on the programme with the Authority of the Adult Education (AAE), Egypt’s national adult literacy organization. The AAE assists in setting out the exams and grants successful workers with official certificates.
Students do not have to pay an attendance fee. Since its launch, Magrabi Agriculture has invested 3550 USD in the project. Teachers receive a monthly salary of 50 USD.
An average of 150 people graduates annually. So far 70 workers decided to take one step further and earn themselves university degrees.
Since the kick-off, management has noticed a change in mentality of its workforce as they no longer feel intimidated by their educated colleagues. An extra bonus is that quality of work has overall improved.
Gender case studies
Are workers or farmers in our producer organisations facing gender inequality? Has this affected their ways of working? What have they done to ensure there is a balance?
CASE STUDY 1: WOMEN VILLAGERS JOIN FORCES
Product focus: Argan oil
Location: Agadir, Morocco
Type: Small producer – 50 farmers (all women)
Fairtrade certified since: 2011
Contact: Afafe Daoud – firstname.lastname@example.org
As men are often the sole income providers in rural Morocco, many women are entirely dependent on their husbands or fathers. With unemployment hitting high levels in the region, families live in dire circumstances. In Tighanimine, a group of women of the local douar (a Berber tent camp) decided to take action. By creating the very first Fairtrade certified argan oil cooperative in the world they were able to lift themselves out of poverty.
Because of the abundance of the argan tree in the region, the choice to start producing the oil was obvious to the women. The area is the only region in the world where the tree grows and the oil has been an imperative part of the local culture, mostly for in-home use. Recently, however, the western cosmetic industry has shown a growing interest in the oil as a key ingredient for luxury cosmetics.
The idea to set up a cooperative sprang during literacy classes the village women were taking, organised by Nadia Fatmi. The women’s trust in their teacher prompted them to ask her help in creating a cooperative. The set-up process, which started in 2007, took three years and Nadia was elected as its first president. In 2011 Cooperative Tighanimine managed to become Fairtrade certified.
Initially, the idea of creating a cooperative was not welcomed by the village men, who perceived this move as a “revolution” by their women. However, once the women started sharing their financial responsibilities, a shift emerged.
The women reached out for external aid as the establishment of the cooperative required a budget of MAD 290,000 (approximately USD 32,500). Three quarters of that amount was funded by the European Union, the remainder (USD 8,000) by the women of the cooperative with assistance from the Moroccan Department of Agriculture. Subsequently, the Association Ibn Al Baytar helped the women purchase production equipment.
Currently, the cooperative is selling its products to the French, English, American, Italian and Spanish markets, although Fairtrade volumes are still low. However, by becoming Fairtrade certified, Cooperative Tighanimine has been able to set itself apart from competitors in the field. More importantly is the shift in the women’s mind-set. Not only do they have extra means as they have become financially independent from their men; their confidence in their own abilities has drastically increased.
The impact of the cooperative has not gone unnoticed. In July 2012, the women were rewarded for their work in the area of good governance and for the cooperative’s social and economic impact. (Read more about the award here). Another highlight was the democratic election of Nadia as the chair of Fairtrade’s North African Board – a major step in a male-dominated society.
CASE STUDY 2 – GENDER TOOLS HELP BALANCE RELATIONSHIPS
Gumutindo Coffee Co-operative Enterprise
Product focus: Coffee
Location: Mbale, Uganda
Type: Small producer – 12,000
Fairtrade certified since: 2003
Contact: Tabitha Namarome - email@example.com
Land ownership and income streams management have been the domain of men in the Mbale area. Traditionally, a woman’s place is at home, taking care of the household and children. When Gumutindo Coffee Co-operative heard about the positive results of a gender balance project rolled out in a neighbouring cooperative, they decided to implement the programme in their own organisation.
With support from Fairtrade trader Twin, Gumutindo introduced the Gender Action Learning System (GALS), an empowerment programme that transforms and enhances gender justice economically, socially and politically. In February 2012, members of Gumutindo learned about their gender position and their rights through gender balance working tools. Below are the two most successful tools Gumutindo implemented:
Trainers ask couples to draw a diamond shape on a paper. Both husband and wife are allocated two corners of the diamond, each writes down what pleases and displeases them in their relation. Both parties must adhere to the diamond. For example if a woman writes that she does not want to serve her husband while kneeling, he has to follow her wishes. The diamond is hung in a strategic place in their house to act as a reference point.
The Vision Journey
The vision journey was introduced to Gumutindo to encourage couples to save for and invest in family projects. The main premise is that good family budgeting helps improve relations between family members. Husbands and wives are trained on how to set up long- and short-term investment goals together. Throughout fortnightly meetings, trainers monitor progress and further share insights on how families can work and plan together.
Fairtrade trader Twin funded the roll-out of the gender project. So far the money that has been allocated to the following activities:
|Activity||Costs in USD|
|Kick-off training (5 days)||3,825|
|Follow-up by trainers (five months, incl. transport)||6,040|
|Exchange visit to Bukonzo Joint Co-operative to share experiences||5,035|
Gumutindo is planning to use the Fairtrade premiums to run the projects as from next year.
The programme has grown exponentially. At the kick-off in February only 20 men and women took part; today the number has risen to 472 participants. The programme has helped shift the views of farmers and workers on women in general and their wives in particular. According to the farmers, men have started assisting in household chores, and consulting their wives when making critical decisions.
CASE STUDY 3 – NEW MATERNAL WING TO DECREASE INFANT/MOTHER MORTALITY
Women in Naivasha have suffered improper maternal care for a long time. Over the past ten years the development in the horticultural sector in the region has led to an increase in migration of workers and their families. An additional 70,000 people have been employed, 70% of them being female. Unfortunately, local authorities did not adapt Naivasha’s healthcare facilities to the new situation. Only 20 beds were available while the hospital delivers more than 20 babies on a daily basis. Several women and their new born babies had to share a bed and facilities, making cross-contamination unavoidable. No privacy was guaranteed during delivery and when complications occurred, the hospital was not equipped to respond accordingly.
The Friends of Naivasha Self Help Group in Kenya was created to support a project to build a dedicated women’s health care centre. Fairtrade farm Panda Flowers, which counts many female workers amongst its work force, was one of the pioneers. Other partners include the Cindy Berkland Trust, set up by a woman who volunteered at the hospital, the Rotary club of Naivasha and medical professionals and architects from the US. Phase 1 of the project has just been completed and in July 2012 the Naivasha Women’s Health Care Centre opened its doors. It comprises of an outpatient services area with five examination rooms and other utility rooms. The centre also has a delivery wing that includes six delivery rooms, a natal ward with 16 beds, a high risk ward with five beds, a complete nursery setting, two operating rooms and two recovery rooms.
Several Fairtrade farms from Naivasha came together and contributed 60% of the money required for the project. Panda Flowers invested part of its Fairtrade Premium – over USD 143,000 – in the new ward. The flower farms also set up fundraising events. In the most recent one, held in August, the group received USD 125,000 from German retailer REWE Group. Today, over USD 100,000 is still needed to finalise the project.
The impact of the project cannot be overestimated. The Naivasha Women’s Health Care Centre will be an inexpensive and effective way of catering the needs of the women who do not have access to private medical care. Mortality rates of both mothers and infants are expected to decrease drastically.
As a next step, the organisations involved are now focusing on finalising the two next phases. Two more wards and ten private rooms are currently being built.
For more information, visit http://www.nwhcc.info
Tools to communicate
How do Fairtrade certified organisations communicate to their farmers and buyers? Which tools are used to provide organisational updates, Fairtrade news, agricultural information…?
Case study 1 – The newsletter
Rungwe Smallholder Tea Growers Association (RSTGA)
Product focus: Tea
Location: Tukuyu, Tanzania
Type: Small scale producer – 15,000 farmers
Fairtrade certified since: 2001
Contact: Juma Liganja – firstname.lastname@example.org
With 15,000 members spread over 118 villages it is hard to stay in touch with each individual of RSTGA. Some farmers can be reached via text messages by mobile phone, but this is not always the case.
Five years ago, Juma Liganja, Accounts Manager at RSTGA, started with a newsletter to update the community on current issues. The newsletter is a straightforward one pager, which is sent out on a monthly base. It is written by Juma, with input from members of the Executive Committee – who also proofread the document. Stories which were featured in the last issues included the announcement of the type of fertilizer the organisation is using this year, the price of Green Leaf tea, changes in the payment system etc. Also Fairtrade news is announced via this tool, e.g. when an auditor is expected to visit the villages, farmers are notified. Due to its effectiveness, RSTGA is planning to expand the scope of the newsletter, including more social topics like tips on how to adapt to climate change or healthcare issues like AIDS or malaria. Of every issue 118 copies are printed – for each village one. The STWGA villages are grouped per ten. When the latest newsletter is out, a representative per village group picks up 10 copies with his motorbike. The newsletters are then hung in the village office, where farmers come to collect their money.
With 50 USD per issue, the cost of the newsletter is low. Most costly is the printing process, which is paid with the farmers’ fee – each RSTGA member pays the organisation 3 TZ (or 0,002 USD) per kilo tea sold.
The newsletter today is RSTGA’s main tool to communicate to all its members and has so far been effective. Juma agrees not every farmer enjoys reading the letter and the organisation is now looking into setting up a local radio station. But the plans are still in a preliminary phase and until then the newsletter will remain playing a crucial role in the communication between management and tea farmers.
Case study 2 – The radio programme
Product focus: Cotton
Location: Saraya, Senegal
Type: Small scale producer – 1,200 farmers
Fairtrade certified since: 2009
Contact: Mady Kourou Danfakha – email@example.com (French) / Veronique Verlinden –firstname.lastname@example.org (English)
Radio is by far the only meaningful mass medium in Africa. As the road network is still overall poor, transport remains expensive, influencing the cost of other communication tools like newspapers. Moreover, radio is closely linked to the continent’s oral tradition. But how can a cooperative like US-GPC Saraya, located in the remote South-East of Senegal, make use of radio as a means to communicate to its members?
The goal of the radio project was to update and educate members of US-GPC Saraya on agricultural, health and cultural issues. As a first step, the cooperative approached the management of a popular, local radio station with the proposition to buy airtime. The station broadcasts to the entire Saraya district so outreach to all the cooperative’s members was guaranteed. Initially, the station manager was reluctant to accept the proposal, but after US-GPC Saraya’ General Manager Mady Kourou Danfakhae further explained the aim of the programme, the management agreed to allocate the cooperative with a one-hour slot twice per week. Mady Kourou Danfakha – who is also the programme’s presenter – broadcasts all types of information relevant to his members: updates on Fairtrade, best practical practices, health alerts, weather reports… Recently, Kourou devoted a radio item to his participation in the Fairtrade cotton Standards and Prices workshop in Mali; another time an informative session was broadcasted on how to correctly use malaria nets (the district of Saraya has one of the highest malaria prevalence rates in Senegal). To keep his audience engaged, Kourou uses different formats to package the information – plays, Q&As, phone-inswhereby listeners can air their comments live… Interactivity is a key component of the success of the programme.
US-GPC Saraya agreed to pay the radio station 150,000 CFA (or 325 USD) to rent one hour of airtime twice per week. The organisation used its Fairtrade Premium to cover this cost. As the station is located some distance from the coop’s headquarters, Kourou also spends 20,000 CFA (or 43 USD) on fuel weekly.
The popularity of the programme is very high and it is by far the best tool to reach a high percentage of US-GPC Saraya’s members. According to Kourou, the programme helps unite the members of the coop. Moreover, its outreach surpasses the borders of the cooperative. The radio station, which broadcasts in the whole district, has a potential to reach the estimated 42,000 Senegalese who live in Saraya. Not only are they educated on the impact of Fairtrade, they also benefit from the health and agricultural tips given by DJ Kourou from his radio studio.
Case study 3 – Blogging
How do you communicate to consumers, buyers and other partners what impact Fairtrade is having on farmers when you live in a remote area in Southern Africa? Satemwa Tea Estates struggled with this question when they first saw the impact Fairtrade can have on the livelihoods of African farmers. What is the best tool to use to reach stakeholders who are mostly based in the north?
Internet. Although internet connections are not everywhere as reliable across Africa, many regions do have good access. In addition to its website (www.satemwa.com), Satemwa opted to set up a blog to communicate about its Fairtrade premium projects. Blogs can be seen as personal journals and are therefore an excellent tool to communicate about the impact of Fairtrade on farmers. Satemwa first started its blog www.workerscomittee.blogspot.com back in 2008 and continuous to upload stories. That is the tricky part – blogs get out of date quickly and the only way they will work is when new stories are posted on a regular base. Someone from the organisation should own the blog although several people can contribute. Satemwa understood this and has been successful in keeping the momentum going. Stories which were addressed in the past months included a project on a solar driven pump, support of community policing activities to increase security and a housing project for teachers – all accomplished with premium money. The advantage of a blog is that it is more interactive than normal websites as viewers can participate by leaving comments or add links to other relevant pages. Photos and even videos can be added relatively easily (depending on the size). Satemwa also ensured that visitors can subscribe to the feed, so they will be notified when a new blog post is uploaded. Blogs are very straightforward to set up. There are different hosts like wordpress.com or – like Satemwa – blogger.com. Each platform explains in easy steps how you can set up your own blog – but do contact Veronique at Fairtrade Africa if you require any help (email@example.com).
The best part of using a blog as a tool to communicate is that it is free. You just need to invest time and effort.
Satemwa has not followed up on the impact of the blog but there are easy ways of calculating. You can for example check how many people visit the blog and from which countries they come. You can track which blog posts are the most popular and what type of stories work best. Fairtrade can help you promote your blog with traders, licensees and consumers to increase the impact of the blog as Labeling Initiatives are constantly looking for stories from producers – preferably written by the producers themselves.