Being a mother is hard work and today we honor and celebrate women around the world with inspired messages and gratitude for all that it is to be a mother. Words cannot express how thankful I am to be a mom and for the love and guidance my mother gave to me. While there is reason to celebrate each and every mother, the unacceptable fact remains that violence against women—many of them mothers—continues around the world. This has become ever more apparent over the past several months in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Equal Exchange partners with Panzi Hospital and Foundation, supporting their holistic approach to treating victims of sexual violence.
Frankie PondolphMay 11, 2018
Frankie PondolphMay 7, 2018
I came away from a recent visit to our cacao partner CONACADO with a feeling of tremendous appreciation for the way that co-operative has promoted women in roles that traditionally are assigned to men. I have even more appreciation for the strong women who have taken opportunities for leadership and have excelled, despite the challenges. According to the organization Farming First, “female farmers receive only 5% of all agricultural extension services from 97 countries, [and] only 15% of the world’s extension agents are women.”
Frankie PondolphApril 30, 2018
Happy May Day! International Workers’ Day is near to our hearts here at Equal Exchange. After all, we’re one of the largest worker-owned co-operatives in the U.S., and May 1st is our birthday. There’s no one we’d rather celebrate with than YOU, our discerning customers and passionate advocates.
Frankie PondolphApril 18, 2018
In November 2017, I wrote a post about the Honduran presidential election for this blog and I followed that up recently with a short update on current events in Honduras. In this blog, I asked my friend and Café Orgánico Marcala S.A. (COMSA) member Betty Perez Zelaya to join the conversation to provide context on the election, her perspective, and to share a deeper analysis of the COMSA vision. Betty is a member of COMSA, works as part of the certification team, and also manages her own farm.
Frankie PondolphApril 9, 2018
In mid-December 2017, I wrote a post for this blog to share an update on the November 2017 presidential election in Honduras. My colleague Beth Ann Caspersen and I had planned on visiting our partners at Café Orgánico Marcala S.A. (COMSA) but decided to postpone our trip due to political unrest and uncertainty immediately following the presidential election (see original post here for more background). I was able to reschedule my trip to COMSA in February 2018 and wanted to share an update on the political situation in Honduras. Next week, I will post an excerpt from an interview with COMSA member Betty Perez Zelaya with her perspective on the elections, the impact on COMSA and its members, and a broader look at what COMSA is trying to do in Honduras.
Frankie PondolphMarch 26, 2018
On Wednesday, February 13, a delegation from Equal Exchange and the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) arrived at Cooperativa Zacarias Padilla in the coffee-growing village of Quibuto in the mountains of northern Nicaragua.The Zacarias Padilla cooperative, founded in 1992, has 61 members: 18 women and 43 men. It's a "primary-level" co-op; members market their coffee through the secondary-level PRODECOOP, which serves as processor and exporter for small-farmer groups.
Frankie PondolphMarch 12, 2018Categories:
This year we asked our director of purchasing and production, Todd Caspersen, to conduct a critical analysis of how we think our coffee farmer cooperatives are faring. His assessment is sobering. We have decided to share it in this space, unsparing and unfiltered, believing that this level of analysis will make all of us more informed and enable us to critically assess where in the years to come we can collectively make the most progress in building supply chains that truly work for small scale coffee farmers, Equal Exchange and our customers.
Frankie PondolphMarch 5, 2018Categories:
There are many tangible pieces to the Equal Exchange model. Organic. Fair Trade. Small Farmers. Cooperatives. While these are all important elements of our holistic approach toward trade, the small farmer piece is critical. First and foremost, the Equal Exchange mission is to give small farmers a place in the global marketplace. This is exactly why our tagline reads Small Farmers. Big Change.
Danielle RobidouxFebruary 20, 2018
As consumers, as people, we are pretty disconnected from most of our products. We may believe a label brings us closer to the real story, but at the end of the day, labels don’t tell stories, people do. Last week, on an Action Forum webinar with Pushpika Freitas of Marketplace: Handwork of India, I was pretty floored. I felt proud to have her as an ally in this work and was moved, not only by how she told the story of Marketplace, but by how she truly honored the stories of the women she worked with. Marketplace is a nonprofit Alternative Trade and Development Organization that grew out of a small-scale venture in 1980 to help three low-income women in Mumbai, India.
Frankie PondolphFebruary 6, 2018
Last year, Deepak Khandelwal wrote critically about fair trade certification and the contradictions of its apparent success. On the one hand, fair trade food (less so handicrafts) is more widely known, with greater sales and distribution than ever before. At the same time, the pioneering Alternative Trade Organizations (ATO’s) who built the model of more just trade terms in the chocolate, coffee, tea, banana, handicraft, and clothing industries are under extreme duress. In the last decade Equal Exchange has saved three of these Alternative Trade Organizations (Oke USA, Equal Exchange UK, and La Siembra (Canada) while watching others falter and even close.