The Fair Trade Group was initially set up with a vision of offering Fair Trade items for sale in the Oxfam WA State Office and in doing so to raise awareness about Fair Trade and raise money for Oxfam. We also felt that it was important to run the group in as sustainable and thoughtful manner as possible, encouraging ethical shopping by example. From these small beginnings four years ago the group has not only stayed true to that initial vision but has in fact become much more. The group is a place where members volunteer together to support each other, build skills and make a contribution to Fair Trade organizations, ranging from very small to large, the local community, Australian Fair Trade suppliers and of course Oxfam.
As the Convenor of the Fair Trade WA Oxfam Group I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all group members, past and present, who together have achieved so much for Fair Trade producers in more than 30 countries. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of many Oxfam volunteers, who whilst not being members of the group, nevertheless make an important contribution by selling our stock at stalls. Indeed, members and volunteers have sold stock at more than 60 stalls this year. In doing so they are true to the vision of raising awareness about fair trade and offering people who may never have even heard of the concept before the chance to purchase fair trade items. The stall sales for the year were over $11,000 and therefore are an important contribution to the group’s turnover. Now that we have access to a stock room and a place to store, pack and unpack stock, we hope to make it even easier for people who volunteer their time to run stalls.
The shop sales for this financial year exceeded $25,000, again the result of thousands of hours work by group members in ordering, counting, pricing, displaying, packing, unpacking, selling and photographing stock. As well, of course, there are the hundreds of hours of finance related tasks that are required to ensure that we meet requirements, including receipting, banking, recording sales, reconciling accounts and financial reporting. We now support 35 suppliers and remain active members of the Fair Trade Collective. We continue to support other Oxfam Groups by providing stock, part proceeds of the sales, as well as assistance with marketing through our increasingly successful blog and facebook pages. We are now in a position of having significant stock in reserve and own approximately $18k of stock. This will reduce the workload on stock buyers, bank fees and the possibility of running out of stock and missing out on sales. The total for product sales, Campaign sales and Unwrapped card sales was over $49k this financial year.
Given the voluntary nature of the group it is difficult to make concrete forecasts regarding sales, stalls, etc. However I hope that the group continues to be a place where people work together respectfully and collaboratively, supporting fair trade producers and organizations and always acting in a sustainable and responsible manner.
The growth of this group has been in many ways organic and reflects the skills, personalities, enthusiasm and efforts of each of its members over the past four years. The continued success of the group in the upcoming financial year will once again be dependent on the capacity of members and volunteers to donate their time, energy and skills.