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Leading social entrepreneur says much still to be done to make trade fairer

08 April 2014

Sophi Tranchell, Managing Director of Divine Chocolate

Sophi Tranchell, Managing Director of Divine Chocolate

Sophi Tranchell, Managing Director of Divine Chocolate, one of the UK’s most successful Fairtrade businesses, will be giving Scotland’s Fair Trade Nation Lecture in Glasgow on Thursday (10 April). The annual lecture organised by the Scottish Fair Trade Forum and hosted by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) is the second time the event has taken place – the first was at University of Edinburgh last year when Scotland achieved Fair Trade Nation status.

Sophi is the managing director of the pioneering farmer-owned Fairtrade chocolate company Divine, first appointed back in 1999 when the company was a year old. Since then she has worked very closely with cocoa farmers in Ghana, challenging the industry to change, competing with huge corporations for market space, while coping with fluctuating currencies, and the roller coaster of a volatile economic situation. Divine is unique in that farmers from the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative in Ghana own 45% of the company and sit on the board. Divine Chocolate is a growing company with a multi-million pound turnover and a presence in the UK and worldwide.

The lecture will celebrate the extraordinary achievements of Fairtrade to date, to identify where the challenges now lie, and rally support for the next stage of the journey. “Divine Chocolate set out back in 1998 to raise the bar for what fairer trade could mean,” said Sophi. “Today it is even clearer that smallholder farmers worldwide are crucial to the future not just of the treats we love, but of nearly all our food. We still need fundamental changes in the way business is done to ensure these farmers can afford to carry on feeding us, and take an active, sustainably remunerated, and empowered role in the food supply chain.”

Sophi will also highlight the particular effort the Scottish nation has put into growing the Fairtrade movement, and will be referring to issues facing sugar growers in Malawi – the African country closely linked with Scotland.

Professor John Lennon, Vice Dean of the GCU’s Glasgow School for Business and Society, said: “We are delighted to be hosting the annual Fair Trade Lecture. GCU, in association with our Students’ Association, was awarded Fairtrade status two years ago in recognition of the the university’s ongoing commitment to supporting and using Fairtrade products throughout the campus, from the boardroom to the student refectory and cafes. 

“This type of high level contribution reaffirms to students and staff the University commitment to the Principles for Responsible Management (PRME) and our belief in an education for the common good for all peoples.”

Martin Rhodes, Director of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum commented “It’s testament to Scotland’s status as a Fair Trade Nation that Sophi Tranchell will be giving this important lecture. And the message is clear we have achieved a lot but there is still much more to be done to shift the balance of power in global trade in favour of small-holder farmers.”

Since Scotland was declared a Fair Trade Nation, a further six communities have achieved Fairtrade status building on the 75 at the time of the declaration. Two more local authority areas, Inverclyde and Orkney have achieved Fairtrade Zone status bringing the total to 20. Another college has been awarded Fairtrade status and over 1,000 schools are now registered with the Fairtrade Schools Programme.

Register to attend the lecture