Trade Aid is a social enterprise of which all Kiwis should be truly proud, and one that they should support whenever possible. For the best part of 50 years, the fair trade organisation has been promoting artisans of developing countries around the world by selling their wares in stores nationwide. Such has been the success of their education and development programmes that many of the craftspeople no longer need Trade Aid’s help, having made enough income to go it alone and establish their own sustainable businesses entirely on their own terms.
Debbie Thorpe is certainly proud to manage Trade Aid’s Boundary-based store.
“Our customers are just fantastic,” she says. “The people here are generally pretty in touch with what’s going on in the world, they care deeply and are so interested in what we are doing.”
Do you tend to strike up a lot of conversations?
“I enjoy discussing fair trade with customers as many of them have experienced the inequity of conventional trade on their travels.”
It’s a sentiment certainly in keeping with Trade Aid’s philanthropic philosophies, and Debbie is heartened to have witnessed the general trend of the public to make more ethical consumer choices in the 11 years she’s been at the store.
“People are certainly wanting to make positive changes to the way they shop,” says Debbie. “It’s also important to remember the importance of community. The community around here is just incredible. They have supported us for many, many years, and that’s ultimately why we are still here. I’m really grateful to them, and I know that our producers are too.”