Fair trade at the Latin American Day, University of St. Gallen

April 18, 2013

Today the Latin American Day 2013 took place at the University of St. Gallen, organized by Aiesec, and focused on the topic of Fair Trade.

The founder of the company Eco Terra, Dr. Carmina Alvarado De Van Bergerem, and her husband gave a very lively presentation on quinoa, the special grain. The started the company in 2006, importing Quinoa from Bolivia to Europe and also to the US. Quinoa is a unique cereal because it is gluten free and is very nutritious. The high quality quinoa grows above 4500 meters of altitude, a very challenging environment for humans, animals and plants. This is part of the reason why quinoa is both more nutritious, but also more expensive than other cereals. The UN has called 2013 the year of the Quinoa, emphasising the importance of this grain type to fight malnutrition in the world. You can use quinoa as cereal in the morning, to make soup or even to make quinoa-risotto, burgers or cereal bars. A great example of social business & looking forward to the webshop!

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The day concluded with a panel moderated by Prof. Eppler: among the panelist there was Francesco Illy, of Illy caffe and founder of Amici Caffè, Tobias Meier of Helvetas/Max Havelaar, Dr. Christiane Berth of the university, Heiko Specking of Credit Suisse and Nicolas Niklewicz of Impact Economy.

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From cooperation projects to markets

October 16, 2012

The symposium “Un mondo alla rovescia: quale ruolo per la cooperazione internazionale” took place last Saturday in Lugano, organized by Fosit (Federazione ONG della Svizzera italiana) and USI’s MIC program (Master of Advances Studies in intercultural Communication), among others.

During the morning a panel of experts on the topic of International Cooperation had a provocative discussion on ‘the world upside-down’. With the recent economic crisis we are witnessing profound changes in international cooperation: which countries need help and which kind of help. The moderator brought data regarding public debt, with Greece and southern European states having public debt-to GDP ratio 4 times bigger than many African states, as Uganda and Zambia for instance. Although I appreciate the innovative take on the issue, by the end of the panel I felt as the real problems have been somehow forgotten, giving to the public the impression that there are no more problems that require our attention in Africa or Asia. Thus I greatly appreciated the intervention by prof. Poglia, pointing out that problems are still real and far from being solved, since many countries still have a life expectancy of 40 years (compared to 80 for Developed countries), just to cite one parameter.

The afternoon was focused on specific themes, and I chose to attend “dalla cooperazione al mercato”. A very authentic and insightful presentation was given by Jean-Claude Luvini, founder and head of Masaba coffe Switzerland, and by Florian AnderHub, founder of AnderGroup, the branding agency which helped Masaba creating a professional brand (and follow the philosophy of “do good”). Masaba coffee is selling fair trade coffee from Uganda, rosted in Italy: “Masaba helps small farmers in Uganda produce a coffee of excellence, in respect of fair trade and organic agriculture” (source: website). We concluded the day with a taste of this premium coffee, which was indeed excellent – in addition to provide help to Ugandan farmers… a social enterprise from Ticino!


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