Turqle's Fair Trade Trust is a good people story...
On the label of every product Turqle sells, we promise the consumer that we pay 2,5% of our turnover to the Fair Trade Trust.
The money in the Fair Trade Trust is used for the education of the workers (and their families) who make products for Turqle Trading. Some of Turqle's customers - El Puente in Germany, SERRV in the USA and Ukuva Switzerland also contribute to the trust.
The priorities of the Fair Trade Trust are:
• SCHOOL FEES for the children of the workers
• GROUP TRAINING at the factories
• INDIVIDUAL BURSARIES.
The Fair Trade Trust of South Africa (est 2003) was created to provide a pool of funds to pay for education projects for the workers and their families. The money that goes to the trust varies according to turnover and is allocated according to need (rather than as a proportion of contribution to turnover).
The primary objective of the trust is to pay the school fees of the children of the workers at the various factories. While there are a fair number of 'no-fee'/free schools in the Western Cape - it is a sad truth that the level of education the children receive at these schools are not of a very high standard. The funds that are available through the trust enables parents to send their children to schools with a higher standard of education and exposure to extra-curricular activities (sport, cultural - drama, choir, chess, and extra lessons).
After the school fees had been paid, the remaining funds are allocated to group training projects at the factories.
Every second year a 'needs' assessment is done at all the factories. This involves discussions with the Human Resources people and workers representatives.
The types of courses that are requested varies:
Workplace Skills, such as Warehouse Storage & Distribution, HACCP Awareness, Food Technology for non-food technologists, First Aid, Production and Operations Management and Computer Skills.
Personal Skills like Personal Finance, HIV & AIDS Awareness, Life Skills, Conflict Resolution and Driving Lessons.
There is an on-going project with the Greenlight movement that stalled a bit during the CoVid years, that we hope to expand in the years to come.
Occasionally courses have to be placed on the 'wishlist' - they are either outside the budget for the year, an appropriate service provider could not be found or the courses are over-subscribed.
It is encouraging that there is a high level of demand - people are eager to up-skill!
Individual Bursaries are available for the workers and their immediate families for post-school, outside of work studies. The scope is broad and in the past have included a production line worker who - over a number of years - completed a qualification in Production Management, several children of workers who, having benefitted from attending better schools, went on to tertiary education and found jobs as soon as they graduated.
How does the trust work? One of the delightful things about the trust (apart from its elegant simplicity), is that the beneficiaries are right there - on the factory floor - visible, tangible and 'provable'.
At the end of every year, Turqle Trading pays 2,5% of turnover into the Fair Trade Trust. El Puente in Germany, Ukuva Switzerland and SERRV match the amounts Turqle paid to the Fair Trade Trust on their invoices.
The Fair Trade Trust is administered by trustees. To make sure the trustees are impartial and make fair decisions, none of the trustees work at the factories where the beneficiaries are working. The trustees are volunteers - they do not get paid - so all the money that goes into the trust is used for the education projects.
The current trustees are Jacqui Jansen van Rensburg - an independent consultant, Estelle Engelbrecht - Philani Training and Development Solutions NPC, Pieter Swart - Turqle Trading, Sarah Withey at Turqle Trading handles the day to day admin of the Trust.
Why the focus on education?
For almost two decades, South Africa has experienced low or no economic growth. There has also been a steady decline in the rate at which young persons (graduates and school leavers) are absorbed into the economy, and this is quite apart from the fact that fewer than half the young people who start school, pass the exams at the end of their final school year.
Our youth unemployment is amonst the highest in the world - while the official figures hover around 60%, experts suggest it might be a lot higher. It is a sad, sad fact that while the info-graphic on the right was made in 2015, at the latest update (Nov 2022), nothing had changed - except now, fewer young people are graduating from a tertiary institution and of these, a large proportion emigrate.
This is a classic 'chicken and egg' situation - it could be argued that low growth causes the declining absorbtion of young people into the economy OR if the young people cannot find the 'connections' in the economy, economic growth will decline... BUT most commentators who work in the 'real' world will confirm that there is a tremendous shortage of skills in the economy - and many positions are filled with inappropriately skilled people - and productivity in South Africa is extremely low.
In spite of many job creation and empowerment initiatives and economic stimulation campaigns - some by government; some by private enterprise - the success rate has been low, temporary and superficial. The root cause of this lack of resilience is because the youth (and the greater majority of the unemployed) simply do not have the kind of education that matches the demands of the job market.
Turqle's commitment is to building resilience - not just for ourselves, but for the people who make our products - and the children of the people who make the products - because they are the job creators and economy growers of the future.
Questions about the Fair Trade Trust?
Contact Pieter Swart or Sarah Withey - they'll be happy to assist with your enquiry.