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When Co-op Members buy Co-op Fairtrade products, they support communities locally in the UK and around the world #TheCoopWay. I recently visited Fairtrade producers in Colombia and Panama to see how Co-op Fairtrade is making a real difference.

Building schools in Colombia and Panama

Co-op Fairtrade banana producers and their communities are benefiting from our support in Panama and Colombia, more than ever.

Just a decade ago the children were taught outside, in pig farms. Now, thanks to Fairtrade, they’re taught in brick classrooms with a qualified teacher and even have play equipment, a sports pitch and school meals.

Scholarship students Amelia, Rene, Ilka and Luis.

Fairtrade scholarships are also helping people like Amelia, who’s training to be an accountant, Luis who could now become a solicitor and Rene, who wants to be a teacher.

Fairtrade supports a number of schools in Colombia, including one in one of the most rural and poorest regions, near Apartado, which displays a huge Fairtrade sign with a message:

“What started as a dream, today becomes reality thanks to Fairtrade and partners,”
El Guineo school


There’s more to be done with repairs, resources and a plan to balance classroom sizes by helping more children leave overcrowded schools in favour of lesser crowded classrooms. More teachers are needed too, there is only one teacher having to teach different grades in one classroom.

What is Fairtrade and how does it help?
We’re strengthening our commitment to Fairtrade producers #TheCoopWay
All Co-op African roses are now Fairtrade #TheCoopWay

Helping workers into decent housing, with electricity and indoor plumbing

Banafrut, a Fairtrade banana co-operative in Uraba, Panama, invests 40% of the premium they receive from Fairtrade on education and 50% on housing.

Workers typically live in a small wooden structure, with very few facilities. But now, thanks to Fairtrade, they can apply for a very low-cost loan to buy a 2 or 3 bedroom house with a bathroom, kitchen and electricity.

DSC_0983New family housing for Banafrut employees

Digital Engagement - Fairtrade #TheCoopWay Q1 - Blog post - bananas Banner

I’m so inspired by my visit to Colombia and Panama. I’m inspired by the people who grow our Co-op Fairtrade bananas and their organisations who are committed to Fairtrade and quality.

Brad Hill
Fairtrade Strategy Development Manager

Read more about Fairtrade at our Co-op;

Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. Pity this is not available in Great Britain.

    • Hi Alan, Fairtrade doesn’t operate in Britain, but Co-op’s Local Community Fund does. Last year over 4,000 local causes benefitted from their share of £20 million. We’re also the UK’s largest business sponsor of academy schools with the Co-op Academy Trust. ^Jordan

  2. Apologies. My post should read Fairtrade not free trade. The error was due to predictive text on my phone.

  3. I currently try to purchase as many free trade products as I can. As soon as my local Co-op opens its new store where I live, I shall be doing my entire shopping there, and will therefore have the opportunity to purchase a much wider variety of free trade products. Of course a personal benefit to this will be the guerdon that comes with the Co-op membership loyalty card.
    I am impressed with the range of projects the Co-op currently supports with funds generated from free trade sales. Hopefully it will make for a more auspicious future for some well deserving people.


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Communities around the world, Fairtrade, Food