News & Media

Is India ready to shop for change?

August 18, 2009

Shop for Change Fair Trade (SFC) was set up by IRFT and Traidcraft to launch a new Fair Trade label for the Indian domestic market. SFC invited Zameen and other producer organisations to contribute to the consultation process around communication and I travelled to Mumbai last week to share Zameen’s thoughts on messaging. SFC introduced the new label and their excellent PR agency LinOpinion, which will be working closely with SFC over the coming years.

The certification mark will look different from the internationally recognised FAIRTRADE Mark, just as the standards differ from FLO’s (they are more tailored to the specific needs of Indian producers and artisans). There is little doubt that India’s so-called burgeoning middle class is now fully fledged, but is India ready to embrace Fair Trade?

There was some discussion about the difficulty of persuading a famously sceptical nation about a new and challenging concept. Everyone agreed that we shouldn’t shy away from the core messaging of Fair Trade, but meet this challenge head on. I was encouraged by the presentation by IRFT as they have received positive responses to their initial promotional work around Shop for Change. IRFT produced a fantastic film to introduce the concept of Fair Trade to Indian audiences, which was shown free of charge in cinemas in India. This reminded me of my experience at the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK; despite how big it’s grown, it still gets freebees and is pushed forward by volunteer power because once people get it, they tend to support it.

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