Divine Board hears about new Kuapa constitution

8 February 2010

Posted by Sophi:

While people in Britain continued to contemplate the length and depth of this year’s winter and when it will ever finish, the Divine Directors escaped to the sun, making the annual pilgrimage to Ghana for our board meeting. I have been making this journey for eleven years. Pauline Tiffen, the Director who helped Kuapa Kokoo set up, has been going there even longer, and now we have people travelling from USA and Holland too.

The Divine US Board meeting in Ghana

I sit on a number of boards and getting people to know and trust each other is always a challenge, involving planning days, and retreats etc. But with Divine we have all been making the trip to Ghana to meet with the farmers that own 45% of the company and see their challenges close up. In the process we have also had a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other, once you have shared the experience of changing planes in Amsterdam at 4.30 am you have nothing to hide!

The farmers have had a difficult autumn but seem to have come through with renewed vigour. At their AGM last year they passed a Constitution, the result of a good consultative process. As this year is an election year they are working hard to embed it at a local and district level. They have created an A3 flip chart to use in villages, with illustrations to explain how the new constitution will work for them. There will be much more going on at a District level rather then at National Executive. This should really help to build Kuapa both as a democratic farmers’ organisation and as a cocoa buying company. The flip chart was another lovely example of Kuapa really appreciating that everyone needs to understand and be able to join in the new constitution.

Both the USA and UK Board meetings went well, chaired by Sandy Balfour in his inimitable way, lots of good discussions on future plans, with no distractions. Kuapa took us all out for a Chinese meal – we all sat at a huge round table with a lazy susan, enjoying the company, the spicy food and the G&Ts.

Divine’s board is really representative of what makes Divine special, made up of talented busy people who generously give their time for the bigger vision, a world where the producers have a real say and a share of the wealth they are creating. They represent organisations: Twin, Christian Aid, Comic Relief, Oikocredit and Lutheran World Relief who have worked for far longer to create a more equitable trading system based on respect and dignity. We talked into the night, putting the world to rights. After two days of meeting, thousands of miles of travel and much food for thought, we began our trips home, grateful for the opportunity to have been part of something so significant.


Fairtrade anniversary tea at 10 Downing Street

15 October 2009
Sophi Tranchell with Brad Hill of The Co-operative taking tea at Downing Street

Sophi Tranchell with Brad Hill of The Co-operative taking tea at Downing Street

Posted by Sophi:

What a delightful way to start the week! Tea in Downing Street to celebrate 15 years of the Fairtrade Mark.  A wonderful collection of everyday heroes who have made Fairtrade what it is today.  From Justino Peck from the Toledo Cocoa Growers in Belize, whose story has inspired consumers like Bruce Crowther who made Garstang the first Fairtrade town in the world, spawning a social movement across the western world.  There were three 15-year-old campaigners and people from Fairtrade Towns and Cities across UK, and of course Harriet Lamb, the head of the Foundation and lots of her lovely team. 

Sarah Brown hosted the event and announced that 10 Downing Street was now officially Fairtrade, a commitment that meant that when they host international dignitaries for events like G20  they will be introduced to the best of Fairtrade. In her speech she acknowledged role of Fairtrade companies like Divine and Cafédirect and described the impact on millions of smallscale farmers across the world.

There was tea, coffee, sandwiches, fruit skewers and a magnificent chocolate cake, but it was the selection of people that really made the event, a roll call for Fairtrade.  Representatives from founders’ organisations like Paul from Christian Aid which has a network of committed and active supporters, Deborah from the WDM which has continued to expose the causes of global poverty, Paul from Traidcraft whose network of Fairtraders continue to sell Fairtrade goods tirelessly through rain and snow, Kevin from CAFOD, Tammy for the Women Institute.  Louise from Comic Relief which has brought pzazz, celebrity endorsement and money to the party, Brad Hill who helped us get that first Co-op Divine bar on the shelf in 2000 and was part of Co-op brave move to be the first retailer in Britain to convert a whole category to Fairtrade; Chocolate in 2002, followed by coffee in 2003.  DFID who supported the establishment of Divine with a loan guarantee and have continued in their unstinting support Fairtrade though out the last ten years.  Harry Hill was strutting his stuff, he visited Ghana early on to promote Fairtrade banana, and has now leant his name to Liberation the Fairtrade Nut Company you can try Harry Nuts in Sainsburys

An finally the Innovators who were creative enough to think of a different way of doing business and were brave enough to take the leap; Martin Metyard from the Co-op, Andy Good from Equal Exchange, a fair trade workers co-op whose latest products include Palestinian olive oil available through Sainsbury, and Robin Murray from Twin which founded Cafédirect, Divine and more recently Liberation.

With a capacity of 50 you are never going to include everyone but congratulations to Sarah Brown and the Foundation for a impressive turnout and Happy 15th  Birthday!