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Apr 2011 13

Check the drop from Muntu Valdo as he visited the Aspecks HQ (fresh from his visit to BBC London) to finalise the details for his tour merchandise.

Described in the Financial Times as “a literal one-man band, providing all the singing and playing every instrument from guitar to harmonica, like a Cameroonian Phil Collins…” Muntu has just released his new album “The One and the Many” (available in HMV, iTunes, Amazon and Rough Trade) and is about to embark on a thirty date UK tour with Ladysmith Black Mombaza. Indeed as the Sawa Blues maestro himself says “Good Music Travels Fast!” Check the Sawa Blues print video to below!!

Get your tickets for the album launch at Hoxton Sqaure Bar & Kitchen on Monday 18th April here.

Uneven Global Cotton Fields…
Nov 2010 16

This video highlights the reason why we believe in Fair Trade.

You can download the Fairtrade Foundation report “The Great Cotton Stitch-Up” here.

Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “This report reveals one of the greatest trade injustices of our time. Ten million farmers are locked into poverty while trade distorting subsidies are paid out by the EU and the US. It is incredible that EU cotton subsidies are worth more per pound than what cotton trades for on global markets. This is why we are calling on the EU to eliminate its cotton trade distorting subsidies and to include this urgently needed measure in the new Common Agricultural Policy reform process launching this week. In Mali, we’re working with one co-operative of 8,000 members who have been able to earn 50% more by producing and selling organic Fairtrade cotton. As a result, 95% of their children are enrolled in school compared with a national average of 43%. This is what a small uplift in farmers’ income can achieve. It is time to end the Great Cotton Stitch-up.”

On corporate social responsibility
Oct 2010 27

A blog post entitled Companies are not charities for The Economist magazine’s Schumpeter Blog endorses the opinion of one South African academic who believes that less developed countries cannot afford to hold multinational corporations to as high a standard of social responsibility as they would be subject to in the their richer home countries.

“Ann Bernstein, the head of a South African think-tank called the Centre for Development and Enterprise, thinks that advocates of corporate social responsibility (CSR) tend to miss this point. In her new book, “The Case for Business in Developing Economies”, she stresses the ways companies benefit society simply by going about their normal business. In a free and competitive market, firms profit by selling goods or services to willing customers. To stay in business, they must offer lower prices or higher quality than their competitors. Those that fail disappear. Those that succeed spread prosperity. Shareholders receive dividends. Employees earn wages. Suppliers win contracts. Ordinary people gain access to luxuries that would have made Cecil Rhodes gasp, such as television, air-conditioning and antibiotics. (emphasis added)

These are not new arguments, but Ms Bernstein makes them fresh by writing from an African perspective. Citizens of rich countries often fret about the occasional harm that corporations do, yet take for granted the prosperity they create. People in developing countries do not have that luxury...” (emphasis added)

She is effectively saying that people in poorer countries cannot afford to hold the large multinational corporations who go there primarily for their cheaper wage labour and raw material endowment, to the same standards of social responsibility that they are subject to at home because they are poor. There are a number of things that are wrong with this position in my view. [read more..]

Joining the Fair Trade bandwagon?
Jul 2009 23

Cadbury has officially joined the Fair-trade bandwagon. Does this mean that the farmers who provide the cocoa for the brand of chocolate loved through the U.K amongst other places will suddenly become wealthy? Having lived in Ghana for many years I know full well that the majority of Ghanaians have never tasted a bar of Cadbury dairy milk chocolate, and this is primarily due to the price. It is incredibly sad to think that though the main ingredient is sourced from Ghana the price will mean that it is out of reach of most Ghanaians, and that includes the farmers.

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One has cause to be suspicious of large companies signing up to the Fair-trade scheme, because it is logical that many of them have absolutely no interest in fairness, all they care about, and all they are there to do is make money. Do companies like Nestlé now purchase coffee beans under the Fair-trade system in order to display the logo only  to cash in on our conscience? It is interesting to know what percentage of their entire supply of beans is from the Fair-trade system. Why aren’t all of Nestlé’s products Fair Trade (only 14%) if they really do care about ethically sourced produce? Why now after all these years has Cadbury decided to sign up? In this writer’s cynical opinion they are simply cashing in on their share of the ethical food market.

The Fair Trade badge which was intended to make trade more fair, thus improving the lives of farmers and their families has now been hi-jacked by the very same companies that made it necessary for the Fair Trade Foundation to be set up in the first place. I do not believe that all companies that bare the Fair Trade logo have ulterior motives, but when big global companies who have cheated farmers for donkey’s years suddenly grow a conscious one has to wonder.  I think that the way forward will be for the farmers co-own the company that produces the chocolate as with Divine Chocholate and the producer-owner Kuapa Kokoo farmers.

*Disclaimer: This is the first of many reader submitted articles. If you have an opposing view or would like to write a follow up, please send it to aspecks@gmail.com

[read more..]

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