We reached by phone Stefano Magnoni, adviser to the cooperative Chico Mendes, a non-profit organization, and a member of the consortium CTM Altromercato which promotes economic solidarity through fair trade with the developing world.
In 2012, the cooperative initiated a project, Calabria Solidale, which aims to propagate an alternative market based on the principles of social justice, sustainable development and solidarity of our own country, marketing the products of our region in the north, particularly in Milan.
From Chico Mendes to Calabria Solidale, two initiatives that look to household consumption as concrete tools for change, to create a more just world for all. How did the idea evolve?
Chico Mendes was born in the ’90s when even the fair trade was almost non-existent in Italy. It had fallen just a year before the Berlin Wall … a symbolic event of a radical change. And we, a group of mostly students who spent time discussing the development of the third world, recycling and solidarity, we were determined to invest in the opportunity for growth in the southern hemisphere through economic exchanges that focus on the dignity of every person. We are children of the international welfare!
Italian consumers have realized the value of ethical trade promoted by Chico Mendes. What about Calabria Solidale?
In only a few short years Chico Mendes was developed … in the meantime we started to look around and we realized the existence of pockets of profit even close to us, here in the south. I had spoken with Professor Tonino Perna who prompted us to turn our attention to Calabria and its uniqueness. So we began to individualize and form into a network a number of Calabrian producers who responded well to the principles of our project: legality, transparency and solidarity, respect of labor and environmental protection.
We have seen that the site is active and that in addition to selling products in the product line Calabria Solidale at your shops, there is the opportunity to purchase them directly online. How did consumers respond?
The products are well accepted by the market. The problem is the price, a bit high because of logistics and transport. This makes it likely to shift over to the Spanish competition, which has better prices. The presentation is a weak point: we know that the consumer is susceptible to the aesthetics of the product! On these issues more work is needed.
Have you already planned new activities to bolster the Calabria Solidale project?
Surely we aim to strengthen and distribute this line of products through the network of Italian product fairs, then we would like to make the leap to presenting them abroad.
While waiting to take this leap, we understand that in the meantime you’ve added to the products already on the market another Calabrian product of excellence of Reggio Calabria, bergamot.
Yes, we had this invitation to market bergamot which we welcomed with much positivity. It is a production of quality and, moreover, is a product rich in health benefits. As well as in our shops, we introduced bergamot to Banco di Garabombo, the point of reference for the Christmas solidarity in Milan.
Stefano Magnoni is not Calabrian, but he believed in the possibility of bringing visibility to the specialities of our territory to help improve our economy and at the same time help us build a better future. For this Calabria Solidarity is not only a network of producers and a product line, but it is a message of hope, trust and transparency. An invitation to walk tall bringing the beauty of our region to the world.
For additionalinfomration we refer you to website: Chico Mendes http://goo.gl/Rgg8Wi