Loyiso Bala: Fairtrade Ambassador

SAMA award-winning musician Loyiso Bala took the honorary role as South Africa’s first Fairtrade brand ambassador on the 24th of April 2012; the momentous occasion ironically took place next to the slave bell at the Oude Libertas garden in Stellenbosch. As an ambassador for Fairtrade, Loyiso has undertaken to actively support Fairtrade and to help Fairtrade Label South Africa increase awareness of the Fairtrade label among local consumers.

 To experience first-hand the workings on a Fairtrade farm, Loyiso and his wife Jennifer Bala spent the day at Fransmanskraal farm, supplier of Fairtrade wine grapes to Distell’s Place in the Sun wines. Loyiso, sporting a PUMA Fairtrade outfit spent the day speaking with farmworkers and visiting some of the farms social projects that are financed through the Fairtrade Premium, including a crèche on the farm. The Fairtrade Premium is paid by Distell to farmworkers on Fransmanskraal, which is a requirement for Fairtrade certification. Other projects on the farm include the financing of school fees and uniforms, the provision of satellite TV and the establishment of a vegetable garden for the community living on the farm.

Fairtrade is an international movement that aims to improve working and living conditions for farm workers and small-scale farmers, with additional criteria for the protection of the environment. Locally Fairtrade wine, coffee, chocolate, tea and spices are increasingly popular amongst consumers. Last year South Africans bought for over 73 million rand worth of Fairtrade labelled products and the expectation is that this will increase to over 200 million rand in 2012. In Africa over 230 farms and cooperatives are certified, empowering and impacting the lives of half a million individual workers and farmers. Fairtrade certification requires those farmers to be inspected every year by independent Fairtrade auditors, who make sure that the social, economic and environmental Fairtrade Standards are met.

Charl Wenn, Chairman of the Fransmanskraal  farmworker governing body, told Loyiso that “Fairtrade starts a pride in farmworkers that goes beyond the Fairtrade premium, as workers are more motivated because they have a vested interested in the farm”. He continued to say that “as part of the Fairtrade Premium we can now watch the Super 14 rugby in our own homes with the satellite dishes that we’ve had installed”.

Loyiso joins many other international ambassadors for Fairtrade including Irish singer Bob Geldof and English actress Emma Watson, most famous for her role in Harry Potter. When welcoming Loyiso as an ambassador Boudewijn Goossens, Executive Director of Fairtrade Label South Africa, said “On behalf of Fairtrade workers and producers, I congratulate Loyiso on his ambassadorship with Fairtrade”. Mr Goossens continued to say that “we are glad that we have the support of a well-know and respected South African and we look forward to seeing more consumers following in Loyiso’s footsteps in supporting this initiative for a more equal and sustainable Africa”.

Speaking about his new role and about what being a Fairtrade brand ambassador means,  Loyiso said “Being a brand ambassador isn’t just about putting your name to a brand, I firmly believe that it should resonate with you as a person and what you believe in”. Loyiso went on to say that “when meeting Charl Wenn, a fourth generation farm worker on Fransmankraal farm, I really understood the significance of Fairtrade and how it empowers farmworkers. He ended off by saying “I look forward to standing here in a year’s time to show you how, as an ambassador, I have contributed to increasing awareness around Fairtrade in South Africa.

To follow Loyiso’s progress as an Ambassador for Fairtrade in South Africa please like our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FairtradeSA) and follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/FairtradeSA).

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