A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Friday, July 27, 2007

New Trade Linkages- From Uganda to Ireland

This small, crazy world of connections…

Back last year, when I was in Uganda, I tried to track down a fair trade coffee entrepreneur called Andrew Rugasira- but to no avail. Andrew had been recommended for an interview on a few different occasions, as a man with a broad vision and the determination to develop Uganda’s coffee supply market in an ethical and sustainable way. He is founder and CEO of Rwenzori Coffee (now Good African Coffee), but his packed and busy lifestyle meant that he was hard to find!

But two days ago, in a hotel conference room, in Cork, his name came up again. I was photographing a seminar with an organisation called Traidlinks, a new Irish NGO which connects businesses in Ireland to businesses in the developing world. Andrew, it seems, has been busy building links with Irish coffee businesses to learn and expand his own market.

(Paddy Maguinness- Concern, The Ambassador of Lesotho to Ireland, and Tony Barry from Barry's tea, speaking at the Traidlinks event)

Good African Coffee and Traidlinks have a lot in common. Both are of the opinion that foreign aid is not enough to make development work, but that trade is the key factor in generating employment and building communities. Good African Coffee respond to this by splitting profits 50:50 with their produces, and Traidlinks respond by getting interested business people in Ireland to share their knowledge, link with businesses in the developing world and create market space in Ireland for African products.

Traidlinks have helped Bewley’s coffee (one of the longest established coffee importers in Ireland), to link with Andrew. A team from Good African Coffee have come to Ireland to learn about Bewley’s chain of coffee shop; everything from roasting the bean to working behind the counter in the cafes. It is a fantastic example of the power of the private sector to accelerate development.

In another effort, Traidlinks, together with Barry’s Tea, Bewley’s, Jacob Fruitfields and a number of other companies in Ireland have teamed up to develop the Heart of Africa products; coffee, tea, dried fruits and nuts, importing products, redistributing the profits back to the producers and trying to get more African products on Irish shelves. Heart of Africa products are currently available in the leading supermarkets…(I particularly recommend the dried mango (yum) and I am drinking their coffee as I speak!)

This is a new form of collaboration in Ireland- as the corporate sector forges links with the development sector. It is early days yet as Heart of Africa breaks new ground, as the development sector opens up to new ways of thinking, and as local African entrepreneurs find different ways to enter the highly competitive European market.

I’ll be watching the space… and I may get to interview Andrew yet!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Blogger Jagg said...

clare, in that photo ... that's no "tony barry of barry's tea" ... that's paul beggan! i don't know what he's doing at that particular event, but he WAS working in anti-corruption when i was in uganda in parts of '04,'05 & '06. i think he's moved on to another area now (accountability, maybe? not unrelated to corruption, eh?), but i'm pretty sure he's still in k'la. like you, he's a dubliner. we (my hub & i) met him and his wife marie and a whole lotta other irish ... and muzungus from everywhere else in the world, for that matter ... when we joined the kampala hash house harriers (KH3), a "drinking club with a running problem" ... great fun. happy silly muzungus & ugandans in equal measure. did you hash while you were there? anyway, am enjoying yr blog v much. as we say in the hash, On, On! - cheers, jagg, now in grimsby (& toronto), canada, and missing uganda v much.

7:37 p.m.

Blogger Clare Mulvany said...

Hi Jagg,

Must be a strong look alike.. but yes, it is Tony Barry from Barry's tea.
Doppleganger effect perhaps.

Saw the hash out running alright!
Glad you are enjoying the blog

8:06 p.m.


Post a Comment

<< Home