GUEST SPEAKER: Rafik Riad Poverty and the Role of Social Enterprise


 
Rafik has studied and worked in Canada, Egypt, Germany, England, and Tanzania on issues related to poverty, environment, climate change, and tourism policies in developing countries. He has worked with bilateral organizations such as the UK Department for International Development and the Canadian International Development Agency, as well as with central and local governments on policy design and project implementation.
 
Rafik co-founded SALT, a fair trade social enterprise working with several communities in Africa and Latin America. Realizing that there was little done to promote fair trade and social enterprises in North America, Rafik shifted his focus to help create an enabling environment for social enterprises to thrive by improving their access to the consumers and to buyers. He founded “Buy Good. Feel Good.” in 2014.
 
Rafik started by explaining that there are many definitions of poverty, but they are all caused by separation. Examples of separation are income, education, borders, and oceans. If separation is the cause, then he believes togetherness is the cure.  Rafik helped explain his point by playing a short YouTube video called “The Opposite of Poverty” from the Tearfund. To view, please click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5qig9HIJ7k
 
Rafik told us of how he learned of the garbage pickers in his home country of Egypt, and the poverty and disease these people face. This helped inspire him to find ways of helping and explained the many challenges of making meaningful changes.  He came upon the idea of helping people help themselves and their community by organizing and negotiating fair trade for their goods and services. Fair trade organizes people into groups that help them control the prices for their products, share skills and ideas, and raise money that can help the community. This takes control away from people that exploit the poor through low wages and poor working conditions.
 
Rafik played an excerpt from a Netflix movie called “The True Cost”. This movie shows how the poor are exploited for massive profits by the fashion industry. These companies take advantage of unfair labour systems and corrupt governments.
 
He then played a video called “What is Fair trade?”. This video explained how fair trade works and how it benefits everyone. You can watch this video on Youtube by clicking on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLKTGWH398Q
 
Rafik encouraged everyone to help by supporting companies that sell Fair Trade products. If you are interested in learning more, or buying fair trade products, please attend the Buy Good Feel Good Expo  from 10am to 6pm on May 12 and 13th at the Enercare Centre Exhibition place. To get your tickets, go to www.buygoodfeelgood.com.
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