From Rachel Ngondo, Regional Development Executive.
When Malcolm, Shared Interest’s Customer Services Manager, came to Nairobi last week I was reminded of four years ago when he interviewed me for this job and I am amazed at how time has gone so fast!
This is the week that the East African Community (EAC), comprising of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, launched its own common market for goods, labour and capital within the region, with the goal of a common currency by 2012 and full political federation in 2015. The EAC is a potential precursor to the establishment of the East African Federation, a proposed federation of its five members into a single state. This means now I can live and work anywhere in the region with no requirement of a work permit.
In Kenya, Malcolm and I visited Salom Enterprises and, as always, Pauline, Salom’s Managing Director does not stop amazing us with more and more projects she is working on and the new ones she wants to start. She is really passionate about the coffee project she is setting up and she always takes the opportunity to get more information about buyers and advice on how to set up. It is this energy and enthusiasm that we saw in this organization that I know will be translated to many of the producers she works with. Pauline was also not short of thankful words to tell us as she was working on an order for an Australian buyer who contacted her through us after he read Salom’s story in a recent edition Quarterly Return (QR) magazine. It is great to know the potential QR brings to our customers.
Unfortunately our trip to Uganda on Sunday was delayed first by one hour at the airport and then three hours from Entebe airport to Kampala. Apparently there were three things happening that Sunday; parents visiting their kids in boarding school, people coming from the Lake Victoria beach in Entebe and a music concert. As if the agony of waiting in traffic was not enough, the presidents convoy came zooming past us, with police sirens warning drivers to give way!
In Uganda we met with Nawou. It is an organization we have worked with for many years and both Malcolm and I had visited them before but we could not remember the way there as there is so much building work now going on. Peace is now the new Secretary General of the organization and it was impressive when she said that unlike other organizations, the financial crisis did not affect them and in fact they received more orders! We understood why when we saw the impressively intricate new designs that they are making. The women work in the villages but they are able to learn and make the new designs that are requested from their buyers. We were informed that today the women are facing challenges in sourcing raw materials as wetlands which are their main sources are getting depleted. This shows the importance of the work that Shared Interest Foundation is doing within its training programs to create awareness of sustainable production methods.
I’ll be back again soon with more on our journey in Uganda….
Click here to learn how you can invest in fair trade.
Click here to donate to the Shared Interest Foundation