Fair Trade: Market-Driven Ethical Consumption


Alex Nicholls & Charlotte Opal

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    Let us spread the fragrance of fairness across all aspects of life.

    Professor Shyam Sharma, TARA projects (Hanoi, 2004)

    About the Authors

    Dr Alex Nicholls, PhD (King's College, London) and MBA (Saïd Business School, University of Oxford), is a university lecturer in Social Entrepreneurship at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship within the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. He has worked extensively on Fair Trade as a writer and researcher for the last five years and has published articles and spoken at international conferences whilst continuing to teach and research on the topic.

    Charlotte Opal, M.Phil and MBA (both as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University), is the New Products Manager at TransFair USA, the Fair Trade certification and marketing agency in the USA. She has worked in Zambia, Swaziland, Mexico, South Africa, and Belize and at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC.

    Both authors have carried out Fair Trade consultancy work for commercial partners and the United Nations Development Programme. In 2000, the authors were jointly awarded first prize in The Guardian/Association of Business Schools’ Award (Business and Society category) for their project work on new product development with Cafédirect.

    Whitni Thomas, MSc (London School of Economics) is Head of the Access to Finance Initiative at NEF (the New Economics Foundation). Her work at NEF includes research and consultancy around improving access to finance for financially excluded individuals and for socially driven businesses. She is also an associate of Twin Trading Ltd, a leading Fair Trade organization based in the UK. She has worked in Mexico on international development projects, and spent six years as an investment banker for JP Morgan in New York and London.


    There are so many people to offer our thanks to who have materially helped us in the writing and production of this book that space does not allow us to acknowledge them all here. A good number are, or have become, close friends. All are worthy of our sincere appreciation. The brave cohort of interviewees who gave of their time in helping us to research this book have played a huge role in giving this work relevance and deserve a special mention: Hamish Renton; Diana Gayle; Sarah Hoole; Bruce Crowther; Ian Bretman; Alistaire Menzies; Carol Wills; Steve Sellers; Kim Easson; Luuk Zonneveld; Paul Rice; Joe Osman; Pauline Tiffen; Rob Everts; Sophi Tranchell; Jeroen Kroezen; José Luis Zârate; Ben Huyghe; and Terry Hudgton.

    Furthermore, many of our colleagues have also been invaluable in providing comments and thoughts on this book while it was in progress and we are greatly indebted to them: Professor David Waller; Dr Andrew Alexander; Peter Cullen; Dr Doug Foster; Dr Steve New; Dr Jesse Rothstein; Dr Tim Jenkinson; Mark Magers; and Katie Feiock. The (certified) award for patience and support goes to our editor, Delia Alfonso.

    Alex Nicholls

    Particular thanks also go to my academic ‘patrons’ — Jeff Skoll and Professor Anthony Hopwood — without whose material support this book could never have been written. My personal gratitude goes to my mother Catherine Nicholls for repeated investments (emotional and financial) in my academic vocation and to Adele, Sam, and Harriet for their love and support above and beyond the call of duty. This book is dedicated to my father, Peter Nicholls.

    Charlotte Opal

    I would like to express my admiration for René Ausecha Chaux, Pedro Haslam, and the legions of others who risk life and limb to fight injustice. You are an inspiration and it is an honour to be ‘fighting the good fight’ with you. Many thanks also to Mark Magers, from TransFair USA, for allowing me to take brief breaks from said good fight to finish this book.

    It is dedicated to my grandparents, Chet and Zee Opal, in loving memory of my father, Chet Brian Opal.

    This book is a celebration of the extraordinary and inspiring work being done by Fair Trade campaigners, retailers, wholesalers, labelling initiatives, other support networks, and, above all, by heroic producers. We owe them our single biggest debt of gratitude.


    ATOAlternative Trading Organization
    EFTAEuropean Fair Trade Association
    FLOFairtrade Labelling Organizations International
    FTOFair Trade Organization (registered by IFAT)
    IFATInternational Federation of Alternative Trade
    MNCMultinational Corporation
    NEWSNetwork of European World Shops
    NGONon-Governmental Organization
    NINational (Certification) Initiative
    SMESmall or Medium-sized Enterprise
    USUnited States of America
    UKUnited Kingdom
    VCVenture Capital(ist)

    A Note on Currency Conversions

    This book includes figures in US dollars ($), Canadian dollars (CA$) UK pounds (£) and Euros. The exchange rate calculations used at the time of writing (October 2004) are as follows:

    CurrencyConversation Rate
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