Fair Trade Business Awards return to showcase the South West’s top ethical firms

December 18, 2018

Swindon firms that make ethical business a priority by selling or using Fairtrade products are to be championed in a unique annual awards scheme that is about to return for its seventh year.

The South West Fair Trade Business Awards recognise the contribution that businesses, organisations and institutes across the region make in support of Fairtrade by buying certified Fairtrade products for the workplace and raising awareness of ethical trade issues among their staff, customers and peers. 

Applications are now open for businesses of all kinds and sizes from around the region.

Each year the awards – which are free to enter – raise the profile of organisations from national chains to small independent businesses that use or sell Fairtrade products, or engage staff and customers with Fairtrade campaigns.

Their efforts are recognised across eight categories, plus one overall winner, at a ceremony during Fairtrade Fortnight in March – a national event raising awareness of the need for fairer global supply chains and the impact of our buying choices. 

Organiser Bristol Fair Trade Network, which runs the awards on behalf of the South West Fairtrade Network, hopes to find – and showcase – inspirational businesses such as Cotton Smiles, last year’s winner of the top award, the coveted Best Fairtrade Business title.

Based in Bristol and founded by husband-and-wife team Jim Hayman and Vineeta Gupta, it imports bags, aprons and tea towels made in India from 100% Fairtrade-certified organic cotton. By doing so it provides better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers. 

Another of last year’s winners was New Room Bristol, which walked away with a Gold certificate. Café manager Ewa Kozdeba said: “In operating a café, we understood the opportunity the awards provided us to raise customer awareness of the Fairtrade name and demonstrate our pride in supporting the quality of the products available.

“Winning a Gold award has given us great publicity and has been vital to our growth as a business. It’s had a huge positive response among the staff and customers.”

The awards ceremony takes place on March 8 at Arnos Vale, one of Bristol’s highest profile and most unusual locations.

Bristol Fair Trade Network said the venue was fitting as the Victorian garden cemetery – now a site for wildlife, culture and historical interest, and a listed landscape – is home to some notable social justice figures from the past, including Mary Carpenter, a social reformer in education and prisons, and campaigner for women and children in Britain and India.

The Network has recently been incorporated as a Community Interest Company (CIC), giving the organisation new structure and paving the way to seek new sources of funding.

It has already been successful in attracting a grant to fund a new project focussed on placing the global Fairtrade movement in the context of the economy and community in Bristol and the South West.

The Business Awards are the group’s flagship annual event, showing local consumers how supporting local, ethical organisations can have global impact.

The invitation for applications coincides with the launch of a new website for the awards and Bristol Fair Trade, designed by local volunteer and digital communications professional Kat Gulyas.

Applications close on February 1, though entries received by December 31 will be automatically entered into a draw to win a luxury Fairtrade hamper.

For more details and to enter visit www.bristolfairtrade.org.uk/swftba or contact awards coordinator Danni Ranchman at coordinator@bristolfairtrade.org.uk

Pictured above: Last year’s South West Fair Trade Business Awards winners. Photo by Caro Hutchings


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