Universal Village History

Universal Village History

How We Came to Tea

Nicole Lamond made the decision to start a fair trade business in 1998 after returning from a trip to India and East Africa. Along with the typical, memorable backpacking experiences – stolen bags, bed bugs, vomiting all night from food poisoning – there was one memory that stood out.  

In Kenya, Nicole had the opportunity to visit some families that worked on a tea plantation. They were aid recipients as a part of a World Vision project which helped give them access to education, clean water and other resources; yet both of the parents worked full time and seemed intelligent and hard working types. How would someone advise them to improve their lot in life if they were both working full time?

They lived in a very humble home (I would’ve said shack, but that felt disrespectful as I could see they had gone to a lot of effort to decorate it and make it look home’ish) and they couldn’t even afford the basic essentials for their children such as healthcare and education….this led me to the question - so what are the flaws in the system that created these impoverished circumstances and why do people tolerate it?

If a tea product was worth making, buying and consuming, then why wasn’t there enough in it for everyone? Are consumers in rich countries not paying enough for the finished product, or is someone syphoning off too much profit somewhere along the supply chain?

Thus began a journey of questioning the status quo; of how business is done, how the people in power make their decisions, and can a business be run so that all people involved can be paid a living wage?

When Nicole returned to Melbourne, Australia and read an article about fair trade, she decided that that was what she was going to do with her life - start a fair trade business.

A mainstream vision

In 2000, in Melbourne Australia there was a small group of people importing fair trade products called People for Fair Trade (PFFT) who were selling to churches and the like. Nicole’s vision was to take fair trade into the mainstream and make it the norm, so anyone could buy fair trade products from their local supermarket.

The Fairtrade Label comes to Australia

In 2002, Nicole met Sasha Courville and Natasha Lewis, among others who collectively worked towards setting up the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand and to bring the International Fairtrade Certification Label to Australia. Nicole became a founding board member of the Association.

 

There have been many twists and turns in the journey; some inspiring, some ‘oh-my-god is this the end, gut-churning moments, and a whole lot of plain old work….read on here 


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