It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since I founded Oz Fair Trade (initially known as Global Handmade). What a year! I still remember coming back to Australia from Southeast Asia with a burning desire to help the kind and talented people who lived in such poverty. The images of bare footed children selling things on streets were popping up in my head over and over again during Christmas, when my own nieces and nephews were spoiled with endless toys. I felt depressed, and I wanted to cry. Nelson Mandala once said that
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
I have been donating. I have been volunteering. But I felt that I could do a lot more. How? How can I help these people? I read widely and brainstormed. It didn’t take long before I came to the conclusion that I could help these people to find a market for their products in Australia. I would source from fair trade suppliers and sell their products in Australia via e-commerce.
I’ve always loved Oxfam, and my research has introduced me to a few other fair traders in Australia. However, most of them are quite small, and over the years Oxfam has scaled back its retail operation. In contrast, fair trade has flourished in Europe, America and New Zealand. I strongly believed that Australians are kind hearted and generous. There is no reason why fair trade can’t flourish here! I wanted to introduce fair trade products to people who normally wouldn’t have thought of buying fair trade. I wanted to help to expand the fair trade market in Australia. I believed I could do it.
So there I was, setting up a website and a business with no relevant experience or knowledge whatsoever. The first version of the website was horrible, but at the time, it was a great achievement and I was really excited when I got my first order. Over the next 12 months, I read widely and learned a lot about website development. Then in October I made the move to rebrand and launched a brand new website (www.ozfairtrade.org). I have been working very hard, managing both a start-up and a full time job. I have made mistakes along the way, but I have learned so much. Looking back, I am very proud of what I have achieved in the last 12 months, and I already have great plans for the next 12 months. The best thing that happened in the last 12 months is the number of people who have kindly supported Oz Fair Trade and made me believe in myself. The next 12 months will not be easy, but it will be great!
Thank you all for supporting Oz Fair Trade, and I promise that you will never be let down!