“I say I am interested in creating a people to people, cultural bridge by trading products and experiences; I work to create level playing fields in the market place for small businesses, here and abroad.”
The Fair Trade Way is about building capacity. Its founder Carina Bekkers is passionate about culture and its artistic expression. She supports African artists and artisans as SANAA AFRIKA and has extensive expertise in managing challenges facing small operators in Fair Trade.
Carina practices a balanced business and advocacy approach to achieve win-win relationships in all collaborations. By sharing her experience and knowledge to benefit others she builds capacity for growth in Fair Trade.
Carina’s Fair Trade story
After a family visit to Tanzania in 2002 I started selling at Akoonah Park Market in an outer eastern suburb of Melbourne. My sales book shows that on 20th August 2003, my first trading day, I sold 2 pair of coconut earrings, paid $22 for the stand and $2.70 for the carpark.
Sales improved and soon after I launched online and from 2005, I also wholesaled framed artwork to African shops. In 3 years I covered everything: import, retail, wholesale, online.
In 2007 I moved to the Central Coast and after roles in education, I took Sanaa Afrika on full-time.
Since then I have held exhibitions, participated in trade fairs, ran galleries, re-launched online, upped my profile and credentials, and forged new connections. Then, as now, the same thread runs through my business: I import, I retail, I wholesale, I advocate, and I support disadvantaged groups. The only thing different at times is the mix and balance.
My product range is focussed on culture and sustainability. It includes handmade copper and brass tableware and jewellery, scrap metal sculptures, wooden carvings, hemp and recycled silk accessories, swamp reed jewellery, recycled thong sculptures, hand-embroidered soft furnishings and accessories, individual artworks and tribal pieces.