Leading a part of a global movement to make an impact and change in communities is a huge task that we at Jonquil look up to. In this first part of the series, we get to chat to Molly Harriss Olson, the CEO of Fairtrade Australia New Zealand, about her personal journey and how she made the decision to join this global movement.
Jonquil: How did you start your personal journey in Fairtrade products and practices?
Olson: As I looked at the world, one of the biggest challenges I saw was how trade could create grinding poverty for the most vulnerable people. One of the reasons I got excited about Fairtrade was because of the elegance and simplicity of the model to make trade fair and alleviate poverty.
More broadly, I’ve always been drawn to Fairtrade products as they’re such an easy way to create change, just by changing up the way we buy things. I was a big believer in buying products with the Fairtrade Mark and thought that other people with the same drive to create change should do the same.
Jonquil: How did that lead to your decision to join Fairtrade?
Olson: Having spent more than 20 years focusing on environmental and conservation issues, I was interested in Fairtrade because of the strong social approach. Of course, Fairtrade still combines elements of environmental protection, but I wanted to shift my focus to the producers.
My first time seeing Fairtrade’s work on the ground was in Africa – we started in Nairobi and travelled around to visit various cooperatives and farms. It was an experience that really let me see Fairtrade’s impact on the ground and meet people who were striving towards real change.
Jonquil: What does a day in the life of the CEO of Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand look like?
Olson: For me, each day is linked by the excitement we feel knowing our capacity to change things in the world. Fairtrade makes a transformative difference to the most marginalised farmers and workers.
Some days, I’ll be meeting with people from businesses and the non-profit sector, aligning us with partners and donors and scaling up our impact in the world. Other days, I’m working with our close-knit, passionate and talented team here in Australia and New Zealand, enabling their work and helping them succeed.
Jonquil: What do you enjoy most about working in the Fairtrade industry?
Olson: Above everything else, I am driven by working in a system that makes a difference in the lives of millions of farmers around the world and could play a pivotal part in creating a sustainable future for all of us. The unique features of the Fairtrade System such as the Minimum Price and the Premium enable producers to take charge of their lives and plan for the future.
Working at Fairtrade means I am surrounded by passionate people on a daily basis, who are striving to achieve great things.
Another part of my role that I really enjoy is that I can show the world the great things we do, not just in Australia and New Zealand, but in the whole world. I want people to see not just what we have done in the past, but what we can do.
Stay tuned next week where Olson helps us to navigate through the world of Fairtrade and explains to us how this global movement is run. To find out more about Fairtrade, visit http://fairtrade.com.au/.
Jonquil is pleased to announce that we’ve launched our certified organic and Fairtrade bedding products. We’re excited for you to be able to experience a new form of pure, fair, luxury.