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Not just another trading company

SUCCESS STORY: Two of NJaCE’s young entrepreneurs at a recent launch

Does charity begin at home or overseas?

The Lorna Young Foundation’s (LYF) work with black and minority ethnic   (BME) communities in the UK shows that it begins  in both places.

LYF has launched a ground breaking initiative called Not Just a Community Enterprise (NJaCE).  The project  was inspired by the success of the Oromo Coffee Company (OCC), also  set up by the LYF and a group of Ethiopian refugees from the Oromo region of the east African country who have now settled  in Manchester.

UNIQUE

The OCC, featured in The Voice in December, was created as a unique  ‘community to community’ social enterprise generating  financial benefits for Oromo refugees in the UK and  smallholder coffee farmers in Ethiopia by way of direct trade between the two.

OCC coffee is Fairtrade certified but the initiative has always been about more than simply selling a ‘Fairtrade’ product. The emphasis is on maximising profits at both ends of the supply chain.

Coffee is sourced directly from smallholders in Ethiopia. However, because it is purchased and imported by the company itself, they cut out the middlemen and put more money in the pockets of Oromo famers in Ethiopia.

And OCC has gone from strength to strength  selling  its coffee to community groups, individual shops and supermarket chains.

The innovative company’s way of working has enabled the UK based Oromo community to develop skills and work experience, directly reducing reliance on welfare benefits as well as fostering relationships with local people.

The LYF has reflected this mix of ‘global and local’ in its latest social venture.


FAIRER TRADE: Oromo coffee farmers who have benefited from the work of the Lorna Young Foundation

NJaCE focuses on bringing together young people from disadvantaged BME neighbourhoods through the medium of ethical trading.  They are often people classed as ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET), who may not have excelled academically but have a natural entrepreneurial flair.

They overcome faith, social and cultural barriers to work together. As one young participant told the LYF: “Some of us even went to the same school. But round here, you don’t bother with someone if they’re not from the same (ethnic) group as you. Even if they live next door. This (NJaCE) has changed all of that.”

MEMBERS

NJaCE was set up in 2009 with a Huddersfield pilot. Young people from black, white and Asian backgrounds established a social enterprise called Young Ethical Pioneers (YEPs).

The members set up their business from scratch, sourced ethical supply chains and created a brand and new fairly traded products such as rice, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and chocolate bars.

Since fair trade awareness is still not as common amongst people from marginalised BME neighbourhoods as it is amongst more affluent groups, the YEPs have been working to educate their own communities about the importance of ethical trade.

The benefits are many.  The young people are gaining new skills and earning incomes for themselves, barriers are being broken down between ethnic groups and partnerships have been made directly with poor producer groups in countries such as Malawi and India that sees them receive a fair price for their products.

NJaCE’s programme has now expanded, with groups in Leeds and in Doncaster. 

The team is now looking to work with other organisations and individuals from a BME background who want to become ethical entrepreneurs.

If you are interested in supporting an existing group, would like to set up your own NJaCE  group, or want some more information please visit www.notjustawebsite.org.uk

*Christina Clare is Director of Fundraising and Information at the Lorna Young Foundation.

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