Vermont’s Annual Fair Trade Business Forum- the who, what & where of a great event!

26 Oct

By Evan Goldsmith

Photo by John Lawrence Herrick III

This past Saturday I participated in the Vermont’s Annual Fair Trade Business Forum held at Burlington City Hall as one of our city’s  Fair Trade Month events. The forum was free for all to attend and included a discussion panel with Nick Reid of Equal Exchange, Mané Alves of VT Artisan Coffee & Tea, Michael Moser of The VT-Honduras Project, and Jessica Workman of Speeder & Earl’s Coffee Roasters and myself.

The central topic of the forum was based around the question, “How does Fair Trade work in a business model?” with examples and case studies from each panel member.

So what did we, as a panel, come up with? Well the major speaking points included:

  • The positive impacts that Fair Trade products can have on your business – both for your bottom line and for the greater good,
  • The challenges of incorporating Fair Trade products into your business – particularly working with Fair Trade certified coffee.
  • Highlighting the success stories that each Fair Trade business had in relation to the artisans and farmers they represent, and how consumers can become more aware of how their purchases can support these impacts.
  • Successfully navigating the different certification labels associated with Fair Trade

Audience questions included:

Photo by John Lawrence Herrick III

  • Is there an effort to create Fair Trade products made in the USA?
  • As a small store owner, I am having problems buying a Fair Trade item direct from an artisan in South Africa, what can I do?
  • Is Fair Trade compatible with big corporation?

Overall, this was a great event that brought together a variety of Fair Trade businesses and interested and active members of the community. We look forward to participating in this great event again next year.

Our table at Vermont's Annual Fair Trade Business Forum held at Burlington City Hall Photo by John Lawrence Herrick III

For additional photos, please Click HERE.

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