Celebrating Social Entrepreneurs this International Women’s Day

HappyInternationalWomen's Day!

Happy International Women’s Day!

We know that women are drivers of change in their communities. Not only is this common knowledge but we have also seen it first hand.

Over the years, we have been fortunate enough to have worked with many inspiring female social entrepreneurs. This International Women’s Day we wanted to tell you about a few of them. Not only are these ladies running their own businesses and changing mindsets at home, but they are also partnering with women and families abroad who use the economic opportunity to improve their own communities. 

You can meet all these talented entrepreneurs at the Buy Good. Feel Good Expo this May 13th & 14th in Toronto!

Cassandra Ciarallo of Chic Made Consciously

Inspired by her travels through Asia, Cassandra started her ethical and sustainable accessories line Chic Made Consciously. While in Ubud of Bali, Indonesia, she came across an artisan creating accessories from repurposed tire inner tubes. Seeing how these accessories not only diverted waste from the landfills but also provided opportunity to artisans, she decided to bring them to her hometown of Toronto and Chic Made Consciously was born. Cassandra’s energy is contagious. She motivates those around her to think critically about their purchases and to maintain a positive attitude.


Jennie Coleman of Equifruit

An all-star entrepreneur, Jennie took over the organic and fairtrade banana business, Equifruit, in 2013 from the original mother-daughter team. Since then her dedication to small-farmers in Peru and Ecuador and expanding the fairtrade market in Canada has driven Equifruit’s growth. Originally selling to the Quebec market, Equifruit have now seen significant expansion throughout Ontario. Jennie has also brought on three more dedicated women to the Equifruit team. Most recently, Equifruit has begun importing conventional fairtrade bananas and fostered a partnership with Concordia University. Concordia is the first campus in Canada to sell only fairtrade bananas.

Isabel Stigge of Little by Little

Believing that no child should be without a home, Isabel has always focused a lot of her energy on helping orphans. With six adopted children of her own (and four biological), she also volunteers annually at an orphanage in Haiti. What she saw was that many children in the orphanages actually had at least one living parent, but a lack of economic opportunity made it impossible to take care of the children on their own. This led Isabel to start her business, Little by Little, providing job opportunities to at-risk parents. Now Little by Little employs 18 Haitians and directly benefits 50 children, while supporting 15 other extended families and their children.


Rose Creamer & Stacey Guymer of Sweet Leaf Bath Co.

Sweet Leaf Bath Co. was born out of a desire to create something that was good not only for your skin, but for the planet as well. Rose and Stacey teamed up in 2007 to create handcrafted skin care products in small batches using pure, organic and Fairtrade Certified ingredients. Their choice to source Fairtrade Certified ingredients from West Africa, the Dominican Republic, Peru and Costa Rica was the easiest business decision they made, as it allowed them to impact people’s lives in a positive way.

Janet Viirre of TresBello

Since she was young, Janet dreamed of owning her own store full of beautiful things. Her later experiences travelling and meeting new people led her to realize her dream and open TresBello – a fair trade artisan shop on wheels. The truck brings fair trade accessories, apparel and decor directly to consumers. Her mobile business matches her love for the nomadic lifestyle. It also allows her to share the stories of artisans from around the world, connecting consumers to the people behind their products.

me and ma moe - 1

Daphna Lewinshtein of Craft Talk

An artisan herself, Daphna has always been interested in the artisan sector and making fashion more fair. She wrote her thesis on fair trade and artisans, created a toolkit for artisans, and organized events and workshops on the sector for students and new designers. From here she founded the nonprofit artisan accelerator and design consultancy Craft Talk. Projects through Craft Talk have involved working with new Americans in the United States, indigenous women in Burma, and former factory workers in Bangladesh.

Congratulations to GROSCHE for being honoured as a ‘Best for the World’ B Corp!


Most companies aim to be the best in the world, but today more and more companies are striving to be the best FOR the world. This is why each year B Corporation honours the businesses that are true to their values through the ‘Best for the World’ list. These businesses have been awarded a score in the top 10% of all Certified B Corporations based on the B Impact Assessment.

We are very excited to share the news that our friends at GROSCHE have made the list for 2016, specifically for their Environmental Assessment score. Congratulations!!

Here are some of the ways that GROSCHE is leading the way:

  • Switching to LED lighting in their warehouse and office reducing energy usage by almost 40%
  • Installing a simple but efficient air exchange system that cuts their A/C use by almost 90%
  • Offsetting emissions and being a Carbon Neutral operation since 2012
  • Planted over 5,000 trees through their reforestation project to offset footprint
  • Reuse shipping materials to reduce waste
  • Initiated compost and recycling program for neighboring tenants
  • Weight their waste weekly and target an 80% landfill diversion rate
  • Consolidate shipments to optimize international shipments
  • Put green energy back onto the grid the grid to match the amount used by their facilities via Bull Frog Power
  • Fully funded a banana plantation project in South Sudan where 400 banana trees have been planted
  • Created the two most eco-friendly French presses in the world
    • Dresden French press- made with 50% recycled plastic & packaged with over 50% recycled paper
    • Terra French press- made with 75% recycled plastic & packaged with over 50% recycled paper
    • A tree is planted for every Dresden & Terra French press sold

Hopefully you had the chance to chat with Helmi or Shah at our past show, but if you aren’t familiar with GROSCHE now is the time. You can make your fair trade tea or coffee taste even more sustainable with their line of infusers and french presses. Plus every product purchased supports the Safe Water Project. Check out the video below to learn a bit more about it.

Left to Right is: Grosche International, Enviro Stewards, Salt Spring Coffee, and Saul Good Gift Company

Go Grosche!

The Young Social Entrepreneur Contest is Open for Video Submissions!

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We have officially launched our first Young Social Entrepreneur Contest! This is an exciting time for us at The Fair Trade Show, because by the end of the contest, one inspirational young individual and their social business will be joining us with a free booth at the May 2017 Fair Trade Show.

All of the contest details can be found on the main contest page. This post is just to share a bit of the history and purpose behind the YSE Contest.

History of YSE

At our previous show in June 2016, we invited the social entrepreneur, Toby Kriwiel, Founder of Matano, to join us at the show for no cost. Toby was launching a KickStarter campaign to get his Fairtrade sports apparel on to the market and was looking for platforms to share his brand with people. After our Founder Rafik Riad talked with Toby about his business, he knew he wanted to support him. One generous act sowed the seeds for what is now known as the Young Social Entrepreneur Contest.

Toby , Founder of Matano
Toby Kriwiel, YSE of 2016


That is where the idea for this contest was born. By giving an emerging, youth-led social business the opportunity to exhibit at a major consumer show, we aim to encourage more youth leaders to take action. The creativity, innovation and thoughtfulness of today’s youth is inspiring – and contagious!

Help us spread the social innovation bug and tell your network about this opportunity!

Engaging the Public

We are also excited for round two: the voting round. Once we have chosen our top social entrepreneurs, their videos will be shared with the public who will be asked to vote for their favourite. Voting opens in January, so stay tuned!

Interested? Create your video and fill out the application!

“Young people around the world were crucial in designing the Sustainable Development Goals, the targets for global development agreed by all countries last year. The goals focus on your priority issues: quality education; empowering women and girls; ensuring decent work for all.

All countries have pledged to bring this agenda to life. Young people must lead the way.”

– Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN speaking to youth in Jordan

News: We have joined CSI!

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It’s been a historic week for The Fair Trade Show! We have officially joined the Centre for Social Innovation community and can’t help but celebrate! We are now planning the next show from 215 Spadina Ave.

If you haven’t heard of CSI yet, it’s time. With four locations in Toronto, CSI is the ultimate co-working space for creative individuals and organizations who are solving social, environmental and economic issues with their ideas. Check out www.socialinnovation.ca to see what we mean!

There are too many amazing CSI members to list them all, but these organizations will give you an idea of some the initiatives that are coming out of CSI:

Ontario Council for International Cooperation (OCIC) – is a community of Ontario-based non-profits, institutions and individuals working globally for social justice. They also host Development Drinks once a month!
ZooShare – is developing North America’s 1st zoo-based biogas plant that will recycle manure from the Toronto Zoo and local food waste into renewable power for the Ontario grid! Plus, they were at our June 2016 show!
Cuso International – works with skilled volunteers and partners around the world to reduce poverty and empower people. They were also with us this past June at Heritage Court.
Toronto Tool Library – are leaders of Toronto’s sharing economy, all while saving you from clutter at home and clutter in the landfills. You don’t need to buy when you can rent tools for those occasional DIY projects!
350.org – is fighting for the environment through grassroots mobilization. Down to keep fossil fuels in the ground and build a low-carbon economy? Check them out!
Jayu – is a human rights film festival and mobilizer of the arts to affect change in our communities. Originally focused on North Korean films, Jayu has now expanded to open minds and tell stories from all over the globe.

This video does a great job of showing off both the social impact and the good vibes of CSI: