Whether you’re shopping for curios, the latest women’s fashions or just local crafts during your trip to Africa, it pays to buy fair trade sourced items. Knowing that your purchase will help to enrich the lives of local African artisans and communities — instead of factory owners in China or multi-national corporations — will give you a sense of personal satisfaction and also make the continent (and world) a better place for all. Luckily there are hundreds of fair trade shops in Africa, which we’ve provided a sampling of here.
1. Kampala Fair, Kampala
This hip Kampala clothing label was launched by designers Mette Islandi from Denmark and Louise Graymore from the UK. The aim was to provide fair trade jobs to tailors and designers and export funky fashion further afield. The label now employs 13 people and has put 42 kids in school. Aside from Kampala Fair’s serious sustainability credentials, it creates some of the most wearable African fashion in the region. The flagship store in Kampala is definitely one of the best fair trade shops in Africa. It’s also stocked to the rafters with lovely dresses, shirts, hoodies, skirts and tops, all beautifully-cut and fashioned from colorful prints. 50 Bukoto Street, Kampala Tel: +256 788 405 838
2. Kazuri Beads, Nairobi
Kazuri, which means “small and beautiful” in Swahili, produces handmade ceramic beads and pottery in a factory located on what used to be Karen Blixen’s coffee plantation on the outskirts of Nairobi. It was founded in 1975 by Lady Susan Wood (the daughter of English missionaries in Kenya) as a workshop to employ Kenyan women (mostly AIDS widows and single mothers) who had trouble finding jobs. Now more than 400 work there (including a few men), producing fair trade beads and tableware for customers in 30 countries around the world. Visitors can take a factory tour, watching the women shape and glaze the beads, tableware and small animal figurines using clay from the Mount Kenya area. There are also outlets in two other locations in Nairobi, and two in Mombasa. Factory: Peponi Road, Mbagathi Ridge, Karen, Nairobi, Tel: +254 20 2328905
If you can’t make it to Kenya, here’s where you can buy authentic Kazuri beads online.
3. Bean There Coffee Company, Johannesburg & Cape Town
Bean There was South Africa’s first roaster of Certified Fair Trade coffee. They provide single-origin, unblended coffee beans from Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi, DRC and Tanzania, and pay farmers fair wages directly. They have two trendy stores, one in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town. You can also buy their beans online. Joburg: 44 Stanley Precinct, Milpark, Tel: 087 310 3100. Cape Town: 58 Wale Street, Tel: 087 943 2228
4. Claudio Corallo Chocolate, São Tomé
Known as the chocolate king of São Tomé, Claudio Corallo makes what many consider to be the best chocolate in the world. This Italian has two plantations on Principe and São Tomé where workers are paid living wages, treated fairly and all materials are locally sourced. Take a tour of the factory and he will guide you through the process and offer free samples. Avenida Marginal 12 de Julho, 978, Sao Tomé, Tel: +239 222 22 36
Here’s where you can buy authentic São Tomé chocolate online.
5. Def.i.ni.tion, Kampala
All products made by Ugandan fashion label def.i.ni.tion are conceived and manufactured in Africa, from funky blue necklaces and oversized bracelets to tanks and tees emblazoned with Ugandan slogans. The brand says it ‘wants to redefine the market place and redefine the value of African’, by making products that support fair trade and boost the African clothing industry. The small store is stocked from floor to ceiling with upcycled t-shirts, tanks that say things like ‘Life is Short; Wear Miniskirts’ (a reference to Uganda’s attempt to ban the miniskirt), baby bibs and onesies. Upper Level Acacia Mall, Acacia Avenue, Kampala, Uganda, Tel:+256 790 914 924
6. Eco Echo, Stone Town, Zanzibar
Eco Echo is a fair trade shop that offers affordable and authentic Tanzanian gifts. Items such as Masai bead bracelets and earrings, kikoi bath robes and towels, woven hand bags, and massage oils are produced by Tanzanian women’s co-operatives, and a percent of each shilling spent helps local communities improve water supplies, get an education, and further develop their communities. Shangani Street, Stone Town, Zanzibar
7. Keur Fall, St. Louis, Senegal
Keur Fall is a fair trade shop whose items come from one of fifteen villages in the Diourbel region that make up an association called Ndem. They sell clothing, accessories and home decor products. Quai Roume, St. Louis, Senegal
8. Cooperative Taytmatine, Touama, Morocco
Cooperative Taytmatine‘s all-female artisans specialize in leather products, jewelry, carpets, and dolls as well as other traditional hand-made crafts. The co-op empowers women in the poor village of Touama and helps them gain access to economic and educational opportunities they would otherwise not have. Touama Centre, Touama, Tel: +212 678 563 133.
9. Le Souk Ceramique, Tunisia
The studio of Le Souk Ceramique opened in 1997 in Nabeul, Tunisia. Every detail is painted by hand on these one-of-a-kind pieces, and every color batch is mixed by hand. Le Souk is in the process of receive Tunisian Fair Trade certification because it follows practices such as setting wages above minimum, and providing healthcare and social security for artisans. 49 Avenue Mongi Slim, Nabeul
Here’s a link to Souk Ceramique’s online store.
10. Muya Ethiopia, Addis Ababa
Muya Ethiopia was the first shop in Ethiopia to become a member of the International Fair Trade Association. They produce cushion covers, runner rugs, cotton throws, table settings, distinctive fashion accessories like handbags and shawls, and exotic pottery and furniture. They employ over 150 people, mostly weavers. Muya pays substantially higher wages to their employees than comparable shops, offers subsidised meals to employees, and trains female prisoners to develop skills that can change their lives once they are no longer incarcerated. Rotunda Building, Siddist Kilo, Addis Ababa
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