University welcomes Malawian fair trade expert

University welcomes Malawian fair trade expert

A Malawian fair trade expert and business consultant will visit the University of Aberdeen tomorrow (Friday, March 6) to share her experience of how fair trade improves the lives of producers and communities in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Towera Jalakasi is giving an informal talk at a special reception being held in Zeste restaurant at 4pm.

This event is the culmination of the University's Fairtrade Fortnight 2009 celebrations and is being held jointly with Robert Gordon University and Aberdeen College.  It is open to staff and students at all three institutions.

Ms Jalakasi's visit to Aberdeen is the last leg of a major tour of Scotland where she has been visiting fair trade accredited villages, towns, cities and organisations, encouraging them to maintain the work they are doing to support fair trade schemes.

She said: "In Malawi, where over half the population live on less than 70p per day, only 30% of children are able to attend secondary school. Only 1 in 1000 women attends university or college.

"Every day in my work I see the difference that fair trade has made to Malawians. For the first time, people are getting a fair price for their products and are able to send their children to school, able to focus on improving their communities rather than merely getting by.

"I work directly with several fair trade businesses in Scotland, helping new producer groups to sell their goods through fair trade and improve their production methods.  By buying Fairtrade products and supporting Scotland's campaign to become a Fair Trade Nation, people in Scotland are making a genuine difference."

Lynne Anderson, the University of Aberdeen's Fairtrade Steering Group Convener, said: "Having the chance to meet and discuss fair trade issues with someone so closely involved in the development of schemes is a fantastic opportunity.

"Hearing how people in Malawi have been empowered to improve their lives and communities through fair trade will drive home the point that everything we do to support fair trade really does make a difference."

Niccolo Capanni, who coordinates RGU's Fair Trade Status and Procurement Group, added: "The Fairtrade Foundation has enabled Robert Gordon University to build on its relationship with the University of Aberdeen and Aberdeen College based on the institutions' commitment to making ethical choices which improve the lives of real people in the Third World.

"Simple choices and small changes to our lives can have a dramatic affect to others, especially when we work together. If you look around RGU you'll see a choice of Fairtrade products available for internal events and stocked in our catering outlets. We are also in the process of implementing a Fairtrade policy to ensure our commitment in this regard is understood by all and I look forward to working with the University and College to further our progress in future."

Ms Jalakasi will be joined tomorrow by Betsy Reed, the Coordinator of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, who will provide an update on Scotland's progress towards becoming one of the first Fair Trade nations.

If you would like to attend this event please email your name and contact details to