Our greatest power is the way we spend our money
I have a strong belief that as consumers our greatest power is the way we spend our money. And if we strive to change as many lives as possible with each purchase, we'll start to recreate our economy to be fairer and more just. I was reminded of this on Tuesday night when I heard Kohinoor Yeasmin, the CEO of Tarango, talk about her work in Fair Trade, micro-enterprise and grassroots economic empowerment programs with women in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her inspirational talk, which was held at the Abbotsford Convent Bakery and part of Fairtrade Fortnight, told the stories of a handful of the women whose lives had been transformed. She reminded me that whenever we buy a cup of fair trade coffee, each bean in each cup is imbued with stories. Stories of the women who planted the coffee plant, and then toiled in the heat to harvest the beans. Stories of the people who were fairly paid for their hard day's work planting, picking, drying and transporting the beans to our shores. But the stories of empowerment don't have to end once the beans reach Australia. I shared with the gathering the stories of STREAT's coffee which is roasted and blended in partnership with the Convent Bakery. Youth in STREAT's program who have suffered from homelessness learn about the roasting process, and help grind and package the coffee whilst receiving a fair wage for their work. The coffee is then purchased by customers and 100% of the profit goes back to helping those same youth receive vocational and life skills at STREAT. By buying STREAT Coffee the beans get imbued with even more stories of transformation, and we blend together the stories of people from opposite sides of the globe.
I think there's a strong philosophical alignment between the Fair Trade, organic and social enterprise movements, and I'd like to find more ways for us to work together. And by doing so I think we'll create products like STREAT's coffee which are triple certified—they are Fair Trade, organic and socially just at the local level.
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