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Fairtrade Does Make A Difference!
- Gaynor Humphrey
There is a lot of cynicism about whether fairtrade makes any difference to the lives of the workers involved. However having visited our fairtrade suppliers we are very happy to tell you that we have seen the benefits it brings.
Its much easier to see the benefits fairtrade brings when you meet individuals so here is just one story of how Pebble brings benefits to the rural communities in works with.
I think it is fair to say that Mita has no idea of how much she impressed us when we first met her.
Pebble toys is structured so that workers are loosely organised by a supervisor who checks the quality of their work, fills in the paperwork so that head office know how many pieces to expect and administer the payments to the workers. It's a very responsible job because they can't afford to make mistakes.
For this they are paid a set amount per piece made by their centre, plus they also crochet themselves and earn a piece rate per item. They have to be responsible, organised, literate and prepared to be unpopular.
Back in 2012 we visited the Pebble rural centres with Morshed, the CEO of Hathay Bunano. As far as Pebble toys is concerned he is the top dog, you don't get any more senior than that.
Mita was 19 years old and worked at a centre about a mile away from her village and walked in everyday. She wanted to set up a centre in her own village and act as supervisor and had already accumulated the 15 women who would be happy to work for her.
In order to start the process Mita had to stand up in front of dozens of women and make her case to Morshed. She was so nervous that not only were her hands shaking but also her mouth trembled, but she made her case and answered the subsequent questions calmly and well. You can see in the picture that she had to clasp her hands together in order to stop them shaking but she did not allow this to stop her.
She had already identified a place they could work, and a potential work force to make the toys and prepared her case as to why she was good enough to be a supervisor.
How many 19 yr olds do you think could do that?
Mita got her centre and has already built up the number of workers significantly. She is unmarried and still in education which may not sound a lot for a 21 one year old in this year but is great news in Bangladesh.
When we visited in Dec 2014 we heard from Rayhan that Mita had done so well that she wanted to set up a pre-school to support her centre. We were so proud to volunteer to pay for her school and this was opened in 2015.
Mita probably doesn't remember meeting us, but Liz and I will never forget meeting her! She is what fairtrade is all about. Give people a way of helping themselves and so many of them will surpass expectations, and that is what Pebble does so well.