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Today is the 30th December… wait back up, did I type that correctly? Somehow another year has almost whizzed past, even faster than last year. As we reflect on the year that has passed, we also look forward to 2017. For many, a change is what you are after. In the tradition known as New Year’s Resolutions, we make promises to ourselves about how we will do things differently in the year ahead. We say things like… this year I will eat better and lose weight, get fitter, spend less and save more, or spend more time with friends and family. Undoubtedly you have heard all of these many times before! One common theme that runs through traditional resolutions is, they focus on yourself; but what if that changed this year.

I was in the supermarket the other day and had a basket full of groceries. I placed the basket on the counter and before I could think about unloading the contents, the checkout attendant said ‘never do more than you have to’. As unloading the basket would have led to double handling, this was a fair remark here. But how often does this sentiment extend to all aspects of our lives? Often, we only do the bare minimum. Almost everyone is guilty of this sometimes, myself included.

When we only do the minimum, what we need to; we are almost always only doing enough to satisfy our own needs. We don’t leave room to help others out. Reasons for this range from not having enough time or money, or even that there is no one around that needs help. There are always people who need help. Also, there are more ways to help somebody than to just give money to a homeless person on the corner though. It can be as simple as giving a few dollars to an aid agency. Anyone could spare a few minutes to do this. However, perhaps the most common reason is, ‘I can’t make a difference so why even try.’

 

Whether, in your personal life or a business, you would be amazed by what can be achieved by many people doing a tiny amount each. Let me give you an example:

Almost everyone who uses the internet is familiar with Wikipedia. Have you ever been on their site when they are running their annual fundraising campaign though? In the top banner the following phrase immediately stands out, “If everyone gave $3, this fundraiser would be over in an hour.” Despite this comment, these campaigns often last for weeks.

Now I’m not endorsing Wikipedia or suggesting you should donate to them; but I do think they are on to something. What if we were to alter the wording a bit though:

If every person gave $1 or if every business gave just 0.1% of their ‘profits’ ($1 out of every $1,000) to humanitarian projects – how different would the world we live in look? What impact would that have on combating malnutrition and AIDS in Africa, or child labour and trafficking in Asia. How much better would responses to natural disasters in poorer countries be?

It’s been almost 7 years since the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, but the country is still a long way off returning to normal. And what about Nepal, 18 months on they are no longer in the news, so things surely must be better there, right? Far from it… rubble remains in the streets and many people are still sleeping in substandard exposed conditions.

 

Buying Fairtrade certified products is a great start! You are saying no to child labour, yes to better working conditions, and yes to supporting individuals and their community. However, this post isn’t about trying to make you purchase from us. Further we aren’t saying we are doing enough by stocking Fairtrade products. Yes, we purchase from suppliers who meet the standards required for Fairtrade certification, but this is our stock. For us to say you need to do your part, we as a business must also do more. Social responsibility for business is a term that has been around for some time now, it is something we fully believe in.

Tummah Ethical Trade believes that supporting social efforts is the responsibility of every single business. Yes, we do exist to make profit, but it’s what you do with that profit that matters. We were recently approached with an opportunity to support the Kaikoura earthquake response. This was something we jumped at, as supporting these appeals is exactly what we want Tummah Ethical Trade to be about. Admittedly this campaign wasn’t as fruitful as we hoped, but this isn’t going to discourage us. It is to projects like this that we want to be committed. To ‘play our part’, we will look to run varying campaigns where we will be donating portions of our profits to different projects. Whether this is supporting malnutrition in Africa, trafficking in Asia, or natural disaster responses; it all makes a difference.

We want our customers to partner with us too, in two ways. Firstly, by simply purchasing from us you are supporting our mission. Secondly, if you have a cause you believe we should support, please suggest! In the year ahead we want to play our part by financially supporting others around the world. I encourage you to do the same. This year make a New Year’s Resolution that isn’t limited to only changing your life, but one that can change the lives of others too.

Getting to the end of this post, you may still be perplexed about why there is a picture of a cacti? I will leave you with this thought. If nature allows a beautiful flower to blossom from a spiky cactus in a bed of stones, then surely something good can come from every situation. There is good to be found in everyone and every business, and it may only take 0.1% of effort – but I ask you, are you willing your play your part?

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