While donating money to charities that help build schools, provide clean water and help tackle disease is a rightfully important cause, after a summer of disgraced fundraising organisations and increasing awareness of white-saviour complexes, it can be a murky area knowing how you should be doing your bit to help those who are less privileged and genuinely in need.
TKMaxx, however, are here to help try and tackle that internal battle, by creating a Sustainable Trade project that doesn’t just go in and attempt to rescue communities, but actively helps farmers to increase their own income and in turn, get their children into school. And you can help, by buying the chocolate grown from these farmers.
Created in 2011, the Sustainable Trade project works with over 6,000 families in the Rwenzori Mountains of Western Uganda, where war, famine and political unrest have led to entire generations missing out on education. While their initial project, back in 2008, was to build classrooms, teachers houses and supply educational material (as well as clean water and toilets), the company quickly realised they couldn’t just provide schools, they needed to help families actually be able to afford to send their children to school.
The result was the Sustainable Trade Project, which increases the income of famers by helping them to increase the quality and yields of their products which range from coffee, cocoa, cotton and traditional crafts. In partnership with The Rwenzori Trading Company, which promotes trade skills, employment and aims to improve the lives of disadvantaged communities across Africa, the project includes selling the products across various stores owned by TJX, which include TKMaxx and HomeSense. As a result, farmers have since seen a 20% increase in their earnings for coffee crops.
With greater incomes and the increased ability to save money for schooling, enrolment in primary education has risen by 40% since 2011, to a whopping 93% with over 10,000 children across 12 communities now in school. More than that, one of the coffee groups also won the ‘Uganda National Taste of Harvest’ award for the quality of their coffee. Plus, coffee, cotton and cocoa co-operatives are Fairtrade certified, ensuring fair pricing and better access to international markets.
So how can you help the project continue its efforts? By gorging on the gourmet chocolate sold by TKMaxx. With flavours ranging from milk chocolate and salted toffee to zingy orange dark chocolate, they make the perfect Christmas gift, or if you’re anything like us, an ideal Friday night feast.