Blogging

Profile:
Satemwa Tea Estates
Product focus: Tea
Location: Thyolo, Malawi
Type: Hired labour
Fairtrade certified since: 2007
Contact: Veronique Verlinden –
V.verlinden@fairtradeafrica.net

Challenge:
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?

Solution:
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 That is the tricky part – blogs get out of date quickly and the only way they will work is when new stories are posted on a regular base.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 (v.verlinden@fairtradeafrica.net).

Cost:
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.

Results:
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.