The 2019 Fair Trade Conference: Notes from Day 1

By Jasmine Pineda, Madison Reichhold, Kylie Chow, Byron Brooks, and Gabrielle Bronx |
Chicago, IL –
Jasmine’s Notes: From the evening of Friday March 1st 
  • Kick-off Presenters

#1: Whitney Young High school

   Whitney Young is a public high school who is the first public school in Illinois to be fair trade certified. The school is very enthusiastic about being more sustainable and promoting global citizenship. The school offers a global citizenship class that teaches students to become more aware of issues around the world while encouraging them to focus on the causes, effects, and solutions of these issues. This class focuses on addressing the 17 UN sustainability goals and how they can incorporate those goals to the campus goals. They host many field trips and activities where they focus on sustainability goals. They traveled to Madrid, Spain to learn more about Fair Trade.

   Whitney Young High school had an event where they created Valentine’s for Ecuadorian Fair Trade farmers. They also want to communicate that looking at purchases of food/clothing and analyzing their power as consumers/looking at who and what they affect is extremely important. The Whitney Young High school's Fair Trade club's instagram is: @wyfairtradeclub

#2: Tyehimba Turner (UNICEF USA)

     There are more children involved with education/schooling than ever in our history. However, children become vulnerable to various industries. Human Trafficking: the act of laboring, recruiting, transporting, transferring, or receiving a person by the MEANS of force, fraud, or coercion for the PURPOSE of exploitation. 10 million children are subjected to modern slavery worldwide. 

  • The numbers: $39 billion annual profit of child trafficking and forced labor worldwide.
  • What fuels trafficking: 1. Supply and demand, 2. High reward/low risk, 3. Systemic inequalities.
  • “The average victim”: 1 child, 5 buyers per day, 7days/week.
  • UNICEF’S approach: Addressing Harmful Social Norms and Strengthening Systems.

You too may help and be involved by reaching the website:

#3 Adam Olsen (Oxfam America)

    In regard to American Politics: GOOD news from Washington. Oxfam America is a global organization working to end the injustice. Fair trade will always be the exception to the rule without fair policies. The following programs have helped lift nine million people out of hunger and poverty. 

  • BUILD ACT: bipartisan, allows businesses to lend each other money for startups. (Fabio Lavelanet: Liberian entrepreneur).
  • WEEE Act: bipartisan, requires women’s empowerment considerations in most U.S foreign aid. It's a mandate to support the development of small businesses owned by women. (Virginia Nunonca: Peruvian Farmer and Cooperative Leader).
  • Global Food Security Act: eight years to pass, Fund Feed the Future Programs, bipartisan, five year reauthorization.

 #4 Jose Boliva 

     When he was 13 years old he and his family lived in Sheila Guatemala during the Civil War. His mom organized with other parents at the school where she taught and demanded water and electricity for the school. Because of her activism, her family was kidnapped and tortured so they had to leave and find refuge in the U.S. Both parents had degrees in Guatemala but ended up working within the food industry when they came to the U.S. Because of his mom’s experience and his own, he became aware that women are sexually harassed and wage theft occurs frequently.

  • Food System: 21.5 million people are employed, it drives the economy but is the lowest paid sector, and the violation of human rights is common.

It is important to push for policy within the local, national, and international level. Boliva wants to raise minimum wage, one of the lowest in the industrial world, to $15 an hour.

  • GFPP: Good food purchasing policy: any company that wants to sell Chicago Food has to meet base guidelines.


#5 Dan DakIke (Aspire and Aspire Coffeeworks)

     100% of net proceeds go to Aspire, where it helps kids with disabilities.People face apprehension when it comes to working with people who have disabilities.

  • Metropolis had ethical and sustainable business practices.
  • Unemployment for people with disabilities is 8% as opposed to 3.5%.

     The coffee market is a competitive market yet, partnered with Canteen Vending and now Aspire Coffeeworks partners with 100 other suppliers and companies. 

#6 Karrie Pakstas (Brand Activist, The Kroger Co.)

     Kroger is a retailer in 35 different states and a large manufacturer. Customers are demanding more transparency. They want to know the ethical aspects of products, know where our food comes from and who touches it.

     International Women’s Day: The Magic of Taking Time for Tea. Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world but, very few customers know the process. Kroger sources tea from Rwanda and Chamomile from Egypt. There was an awful genocide in Rwanda which left the women having to push their country forward, they began to join the workforce. Rwandan women are now ⅓ of the workforce.

     Takeaways: fair trade empowers farmers and their communities. They support extraordinary women and promote women in the workforce. The small things we do today, affect tomorrow. We have the ability to vote with our dollar.

#7 Marci Zaroff (EcoFashion Pioneer)

     “Work is love made visible” -Kahlil Gibran

     “There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness”, fast fashion creates suffering to those vulnerable to the large corporations. EcoFshion: style with substance, no compromise.

  • Cotton Industry: the farmers who participate are doing so to make a living and to put food on the table for their families. 10% of the world’s carbon footprint comes from the fashion industry. Currently, there are 50 brands with fair trade certification.


#8 Jailan Adly/ Esperance Gikundiro (RefuSHE)

     RefuSHE has safehouses for refugees who flee their countries because of tragic events. At the refugee location, they give women the tools to succeed and work.They are able to receive an income. They allow women to heal from the trauma they have endured.

Esperance is an example of someone who has survived her experience and uses the resources that RefuSHE has offered her to create a career and a business. Esperance is now an advocate and motivational speaker who wants to help others who share similar experiences and need help.

Thus concludes the end of the first day of our intern's experience at the Chicago Fair Trade Conference, this year.