The inspirations of Michael Gidney, chief executive, Fairtrade Foundation

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Michael Gidney Fairtrade Foundation

It’s a quarter of a century since Fairtrade-certified goods first became available in the UK. Here the charity’s leader reveals his inspirations

I began my career in Kenya. There I saw the realities of poverty up close, but I also witnessed incredible entrepreneurship and endless creativity. It was really inspiring and it’s one of the things I keep with me from my early days.

One of the most inspiring things about Fairtrade is that it’s a movement – no one owns it. The residents of Garstang, Lancashire, thought it was a really good idea, so they lobbied local firms and cafes to stock Fairtrade goods. They declared themselves as the first Fairtrade town in 2001. That influence has since spread to the point at which there are now more than 2,000 Fairtrade towns around the globe.

There are so many quiet heroes out there, from the farmers who are trying to make ends meet every day to the Fairtrade campaigners who spend their weekends leafleting and putting on events. They are the ones who make the world a better place.

Going to the coast is a great stress-buster. Life is busy, so being able to see open skies and hear the sea is fantastic.

I took up sailing a few years ago. The thing I really love about it is that it’s just you and the elements. It’s a wonderfully liberating feeling when you set your course, the wind is fair, the tide is in your favour and everything comes together.

My favourite quote: ‘It always seems impossible – until it is done’ Nelson Mandela

I would encourage anyone to spend time working in a charitable organisation. Serving a mission-driven enterprise can be incredibly fulfilling. We all need to pull together to solve any of the big challenges facing the world, from tackling climate change to feeding the nine billion by 2050. There is so much need for collaboration.

On Fairtrade Fortnight (24 February to 8 March) thousands of people and enterprises around the UK will campaign to end the exploitation of African farmers supplying the developed world with cocoa and other products. Visit fairtrade.org.uk/getinvolved for details

About author

Sam Forsdick

Sam Forsdick

Features writer, Director magazine

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