Summer news from the Lorna Young Foundation (LYF)
Just as Lorna Young pioneered the sale of Fairtrade products into the supermarkets with Cafédirect, so the Foundation is now pioneering new forms of partnership with producers. We think that Lorna would have been particularly excited by the links that we’re now making with entrepreneurs through the Lorna Young Foundation Entrepreneurs (LYFE) project. Brian Keegan and the Rumukia Farmer Co-operative in Kenya have been piloting our new LYFE mentoring programme and you can read about their venture below.
Who and What is LYF?
The Lorna Young Foundation (LYF) is named in memory of Lorna Young, the marketing specialist working for Equal Exchange, one of the founders of Cafédirect. On ‘loan’ from Equal Exchange, Lorna was the first Sales and Marketing Manager for Cafédirect. Lorna was a driven and dynamic Scotswoman who secured the first supermarket listings for Cafédirect products, and who almost single-handedly launched fair-trade coffee from the niche market to the mainstream.
Lorna died in 1996 at the age of 44, but her name, and her fierce commitment to championing the cause of producers lives on through the LYF, which was set up by Café Direct. The LYF is a UK registered charity that seeks to level the playing field for smallholder producers, so that they can compete fairly in the marketplace. This charity is all about empowerment in action – assisting producers to make the transition from being providers of raw product to becoming managers of their own businesses, building their commercial and marketing skills and helping them to develop local brands and add value to their products. Ultimately the LYF works to alleviate local poverty in a sustainable way. As well as our support to coffee and tea producers, we are also now working with nut and olive producers.
"THE LYFE OF BRIAN"
A unique mentoring partnership with Rumukia coffee farmers
The LYFE (Lorna Young Foundation Entrepreneurs) Programme is our exciting new initiative designed to provide marketing and commercial mentoring with smallholder organisations. LYFE is supported by successful entrepreneurs and business leaders (north and south) who are keen to share their own skills and experience. It aims to strengthen leadership and management skills and to empower smallholder organisations in order that they can take more control of their supply-chains, create their own brands, access new local and international markets, and secure greater value from the produce that they grow.
LYFE only works with individuals who are committed to creating and fostering long term relationships with smallholders in developing countries – so unlike some of the recent TV reality shows that have focussed on entrepreneurs, our business men and women are keenly aware of the need for sustainable assistance. We are very confident that the LYFE concept can work, but in order to test it, we carried out a full pilot LYFE mentoring initiative in Kenya. With support from Taylors of Harrogate, asmall planning grant from the Big Lottery Fund, and with a great deal of in-kind support from 360 Group.com, we facilitated a mentoring partnership between the Rumukia Farmers’ Co-operative in Kenya and the entrepreneur and business owner, Brian Keegan of 360 Group. Rumukia were ideal candidates to participate in the LYFE pilot because, despite Government introduced liberalisation of the Kenyan coffee market, most Kenyan smallholder co-operatives have little or no experience in direct marketing or sales and are unable to take advantage of the new opportunities. This left them at the mercy of middlemen and at the risk of making poor commercial choices.
Following a detailed business assessment of Rumukia, Brian started working with the management and Board of the Cooperative in September 2007, with a week-long mentoring visit and workshops in early November 2007. During an intense seven days, Brian and the Rumukia management and Board undertook comprehensive business and marketing capacity reviews, skills audits and business planning; all leading to a new business and marketing strategy for Rumukia. This will help them to develop their capacity, skills and confidence so that they can successfully directly-market their own produce; increase sales income; shorten the supply chain; and retain a greater proportion of income that will ultimately benefit all Rumukia member farmers. Together, Brian and the Rumukia Board and management have also negotiated marketing courses for co-operative members at a local college; sourced new local manufacturers of drying tables for coffee beans; and are working towards introducing new accounting systems and software in the co-operative to enable them to better track payments to farmers.
Brian and the Rumukia Board and management are continuing to work together on this mentoring venture, six months after the November field visit. This has been a great pilot initiative, not only for Rumukia and Brian, but also for us at the LYF; it has allowed us to demonstrate that the LYFE concept works and to test our approaches. We are very excited about these new developments and the great potential that this has to encourage more farmers to remain in, or return to, farming – providing long term sustainability for thousands of poor farmers and their communities.
Watch this space for more information on the next LYFE mentoring initiative and the wider roll out of the LYFE programme.
Opinion; "Beyond Fair Trade? "By Martin Meteyard
Fair trade has made a huge difference to the lives of producers in developing countries and has now become a marketing and branding success.
The latest statistics from the Fairtrade Foundation show UK sales rising to £560m in 2007; a figure that would have seemed unimaginable only a few years ago. And yet, only a tiny proportion of that £560m actually went back to the producers themselves.
Fair trade mainly affects the price of raw materials (coffee, tea, cocoa, cotton etc.). That’s certainly better – a lot better – than nothing. But it’s still true that, with a handful of exceptions, most of the money we pay for Fairtrade products ends up in the pockets of retailers, processors and packers in Europe or North America. So, the next challenge is to find ways of turning that around and for producers to gain more of the real value of the retailed products.
One way – pioneered by Divine Chocolate – is to make producers part owners of the company, thus sharing in the profits made from the value chain here. Another is to promote investment in processing and packing facilities in the country or region of origin. Alongside this it makes sense to support producers in developing their own local and regional markets – one of the Lorna Young Foundation’s goals. This helps producers to maximise the value of their produce and gain new business and marketing and sales skills.
Fair trade is an important first step. It is not the final goal in decisively changing how value is created and distributed in the global economy. The challenge for us all now is to find and support the changes in production, processing, and trade relationships that will make a real and long-lasting difference to producers.
Meet the LYF Team
The LYF is governed by our Board of Trustees. We think it’s important to introduce you to our Board and management and to tell you a little bit more about the people who direct the work of the Foundation…
Martin has worked mainly in the cooperative movement for the last 25 years and is one of the pioneers of fair trade: he helped to set up Equal Exchange in the late 1980s, and chaired some of the early conferences of the international fair trade organisation IFAT. Martin was also Chair of Cafédirect from 1998 to 2005 and oversaw its public share issue.
Lawrence is a retired Management Consultant – and became interested in Fair Trade during the 1990s, whilst living in Thailand. Following a career spanning 8 countries, Lawrence returned to Europe to provide voluntary business consultancy services to small and medium Fair Trade enterprises. Lawrence now undertakes a variety of consulting missions (mostly in Asia) and is a member of the Advisory Board for a significant Royally-endowed anti-opium project in Thailand (www.doiting.org), with extensions in Burma, Afghanistanmand Aceh province -Indonesia.
Clive Montgomery Wicks, FCIM, Dip Ex.M (Dist)
Clive is a Conservation and Development Consultant, specialising in the Impact of Extractive Industries on the Environment. Clive has worked in the Environmental movement for the last 24 years, mainly for WWF and was Head of the WWF UK International Programme covering Africa, Asia/Pacific and Latin America. He represented WWF at G8, World Bank, IFC (International Finance Corporation), UNEP and UNDP meetings on extractive Industries. Prior to that, he had 25 years experience of working in agriculture, mainly in Africa, as Company Director with an International company.
A trained chartered accountant, Duncan worked overseas with both VSO and Christian Aid before joining Fairtrade pioneers Twin. He was part of the team that set-up Divine Chocolate, then launched and directed AgroFair UK, the Fairtrade fruit company and more recently led the successful launch of Liberation Foods CIC, the 100% Fairtrade small farmer owned nut company. Today Duncan works independently as a consultant.
Kate is the latest member of the Board. Kate is a Director of Fullwell Mill, the Fairtrade dried fruit and cereal-bar company, which owns the Tropical Wholefoods brand. Kate founded Tropical Wholefoods in Uganda in the early 1990s. Kate’s experience is in Marketing and Sales.
Ian has managed the Foundation since 2006, following his return to the UK from four years working with San (Bushman) communities in Namibia. Ian has set up
and led several voluntary and private sector programmes and organisations workingwith excluded and marginalised groups in the UK and Africa.
Christina provides creative and networking support to the LYF. Her background is in social housing and exclusion, with a focus on policy and research. She has been a policy advisor to the UK Government and spent 3 years working with marginalised groups in southern Africa, where she had two oral history books published. She is an active member of Lifelines UK, supporting prisoners on US Death Row.
Win a Fantastic Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea Hamper
We would have liked to tell you what each £1 of your money could buy in order to urge you to donate to our projects. However, much of our work is about training and support – not so easy to break down into simple simple, material ‘sound-bites’. Instead, we hope that you will continue to trust our integrity and track record. The nice people at Taylors of Harrogate/ Yorkshire Tea are supporting us to encourage donations by providing a Taylor’s Willow Hamper for our prize draw. The Hamper contains mugs, tea-towels, biscuits, marmalade cakes and the famous Yorkshire Tea. Each donation we receive (in the form of a cheque payable to ‘The Lorna Young Foundation’, or CAF voucher, or Standing Order, see below) and accompanied by the reply slip, will be entered into our Prize Draw. The winner will be drawn on 15th August 2008, so please send your return slips to us by then (see Terms & Conditions below). Entries/ donations can be returned to: The Lorna Young Foundation, Suite 2B, City Cloisters, 196 Old Street, London, EC1V 9FR.
Taylors Hamper Competition – Terms and Conditions
1. One entry to the prize draw per separate donation received from an individual
2. Competition is not open to Trustees, employees or direct partners of the LYF
3. The prize hamper is described above and will be delivered to the winner
4. The winner will be invited to take part in publicity (via newsletter or Taylors of Harrogate publicity)
5. No cash or alternative prize is available
6. LYF does not accept responsibility for any entry donations lost, delayed, damaged or not received.
7. LYF will only use the information provided for the purposes of our own mailing list. We will not share your details with other partners or contacts
Thanks for your support!
We want to thank all of you who contributed towards our work following the December appeal – every donation was gratefully received and helped us to support our projects. As a small charity, we receive no core funding; we remain totally dependent on donations from our supporters and from the small project grants we secure from time to time. So, please, keep supporting our work and help us to continue assisting smallholder farmers to develop their business capacity and lift themselves out of poverty. We don’t waste money on expensive central administration (our registered address is in London but we operate from a small office in West Yorkshire). We keep our overheads to an absolute minimum; making sure that money gets spent where it is needed the most – directly supporting smallholder producers. So every pound we receive is very much needed!