October 24, 2009
September 12, 2009
If you have followed my blog the over the past week, you are now at the end of my journey through East Africa.
Leaving Africa I headed back to the UK where I live with a renewed sense of I MUST DO MORE TO HELP GET THESE WOMEN HANDICRAFTS AND TEXTILES TO MARKET!
I had seen women in dire circumstances but doing whatever they could to help themselves out of poverty, without feeling sorry for themselves whatever neither did they ask for handouts of money. One by one they asked that we share our skills with them so that they could improve their products and be able to compete in world markets, they asked for fair access to world markets and skills to enable them to serve the sick in their communities!
I also felt that although money was important to kick start programmes it was not necessarily the only factor in efforts to end poverty for reasons of exclusion and practices such as those of Vulture Funds amongst other things. In my minds eye the answer lay in Trade as this is a more sustainable route out of poverty and yet Africa lags behind other continents in trade terms and international trade is very low.
It is largely agreed that the economies of countries cannot grow or be sustained on the basis of international loans or grants. This is certainly true for African women too. The governments/economies lending or giving the money do not have an infinite amount from which to lend/give indefinitely. As well as being unsustainable it is undignified.
Consideration should be given to the kind of trade that adds value at source wherever possible to enable governments to generate income through increased tax revenue. The process of value addition must encompass investments in human resources to ensure that women in particular have the right skills to lift their families out of poverty. There are more details about this on www.raisetrade.com
I hope that my recent blogs have given you the reader an insight of what life if like for folk on the ground and that it ahs demonstrated that resolving poverty in Africa is not simply about the money. I would be interested in others’ view points as well as experiences on issues relating to poverty in Africa
September 2, 2009
Yesterday, I introduced the notion that ending poverty in Africa was not simply about giving more money. I asked the question why governments were not promoting more sustainable models.
A model that I am especially interested in is called RAISE TRADE, and the idea behind this concept is the move away from exporting of raw materials from developing nations and adding value else where. The founder of this model Neil Kelsall is the brains behind a very successful Malagasy chocolate based on the RAISE TRADE model. This model departs from the models that enable cooperatives in Africa to simply own shares of companies as the well as the Fairtrade models, and enables value to be added at source which increases income for the producer as well as the government through tax revenues which is not possible if value is added elsewhere.
How might this work in practice?
Take OTTIMO CAFFE, a specialist coffee roaster from North London looking to source his coffee in a more ethical way, a Uganda based coffee cooperative looking to add value to their coffees before the coffee is exported, so they can earn a higher price for their produce, a government looking to earn more tax revenue from its cash crop , an investor looking to invest in a socially responsible venture, that will bring him good returns at the same time and finally a retailer who must source his products more ethically because his customers demand it!
Everyone of these people have some expertise to bring to the table and the overall goal here is to produce a fully processed coffee that can be exported to the western world at the Cooperative headquarter in Uganda. This is indeed that live case that I am involved in and I have been responsible for bringing all the parties together. I must add that it is early days yet as we work the details out but all the parties are in agreement that this is the way forward in the fight against poverty.
If this model is that fantastic I hear you say, why isn’t it being adopted on a much wider scale? Well that is the question I would like an answer too. But one thing is certain, this is doable and Neil has proved that. Is it therefore a case of committment on the aprt of decision makers, Businesses, Retailers or investors? Who is responsible for making this practice wide spread?
The fashion industry has in many ways lead the way in the VALUE ADD movement, they have however let themselves down by unfair practices especially the working conditions of the producers, we have all heard about PRIMARK being associated to the so called sweat shops.
Do you have a view on any of the issues raised here? Please share it, in the meantime take a look at Neil’s presentation below.
In the next blog, I will bring to life a conversation I had with the CEO of the Investment Facility of Africa and you will learn why poverty in Africa is simply not about money