[ ‘SHARE’ Nov-Dec 2015 ] TAKING ACTION
Written by: Sara
Loathing for unfair trading
People often think of Africa’s poverty and unending problems. Colonial aggression severely exploited African lives and natural resources, African raw materials such as cotton, coffee and cocoa beans were bought way below market price by European countries but resold worldwide as high-end products after further processing. European traders made the maximum profit while African farmers remained destitute and exposed to the risk of losing everything if disaster strikes. Isn’t it ironic that many such farmers never tasted the coffee or chocolate they grew because they could not afford it?
Sick and tired of charity
Many African countries became independent in the 1960s, but politically they are either ruled by dictators or troubled by ethnic power struggles which damage their economies. This coupled with underdeveloped infrastructures greatly stifle their economic development. Although international charitable funding helps Africa meet urgent needs, a deeper (and invisible) level of problems is formed, such as a weakling mentality, irresponsibility or dependence, and dying entrepreneurial intentions. Africa’s general economy is stagnant and many countries are in great debt, making poverty eradication seems impossible.
Yearning for fair-trading
In recent years, many in Africa have cried out, “We are tired of charity! Give us fair-trading!” Nowadays Sino-African trade is going strong and Africans greatly welcome China exchanging infrastructure projects for African natural resources. When I heard their cry, I co-started a company in Hong Kong two years ago called SAWA Africa which buys products directly from the producers, maximising profits for them and their workers. We import quality products from East Africa, such as organic unrefined shea butter from Uganda and fair-trade ceramic accessories from Kenya. As our company grows, we create employment opportunities for the African people and with steady employment they will depend less on charity.
A “love to the end” mission
That is how SAWA Africa tries to work for the African people. God planted in me a love for them for over a decade when I started volunteer work in Africa in their times of disaster, famine or terrorist attacks. Now with our socially responsible business we are helping the Africans in a way they feel respected. We pray that this will be a sustainable ministry, not to maximise profits but love to the end.
The writer is the founder of SAWA Africa, and through the fair-trade platform sells African products and creates employment opportunity for the African people.