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Name: Sabeena Ahmed

Business: The Little Fair Trade Shop 

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Industry: Consumer Goods 

Reason for starting? My fair trade journey began September 2008 whilst studying an online Islamic banking and insurance course. Much to my surprise I had an epiphany! A paragraph illustrating how Islam promotes the equal distribution of wealth evoked strong emotions. Stories of social injustice and disparity of earnings amongst the poorest people around the world fueled a desire to take action. In the weeks that followed, I searched the internet and discovered the home page of the World Fair Trade Organization website, and The Little Fair Trade Shop was created. As the only fair trade campaigner, educator and modest retailer in the United Arab Emirates, I have struggled to create a niche market for fair trade products. I am more determined than ever to dispel the myth about fair trade being ”charity.” I continue to educate people about fair trade artisans and groups by promoting the principles of a living wage, self-reliance, empowerment, transparency, environmental sustainability, dignity and self-respect.

Related: Read about another Fair Trade entrepreneur here. 

How do you define success? My definition of success is helping others in their time of need, be it financially, emotionally or mentally. I hope when I face difficulties I could rely on their assistance and support to lift me up again. I am the heroine of my own story. I hope to write more chapters of kindness, acceptance, tolerance and love about the artisans, fair trade pioneers and friends who have supported my fair trade journey, yesterday, today and tomorrow. I am a ‘Fair trade Nomad and Optimist for Change.’

Biggest success: Educating and converting my beloved late mother, Mrs. Meshar Mumtaz Bano, to support fair trade products. She religiously purchased fair trade tea, sugar, coffee, bananas and chocolate. I am privileged and honored to promote the work of many talented fair trade artisans, women and men around the world. Their personal stories are so inspirational that they must be told. I am blessed I have been given this opportunity to visit fair trade/ethical producers, record their interviews and share them via my YouTube channel. The first interviews I conducted were with producers/artisans in Pakistan. It was a lifetime dream come true.

What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? My challenge at present is coming to terms with my grief and my health. I have recorded videos about cancer and one was recently retweeted by Macmillan Campaigns. Macmillan Cancer Support is one of the largest cancer support organizations in the United Kingdom. I am recovering from a cancer scare and have needed iron transfusions for my beta thalassaemia. From a business perspective, I have continued with my monthly blogs and am very active via Twitter and Facebook. My aim is to continue to establish a fair trade educational and interfaith network in Dubai. I have written to the British Council UAE, the United Nations UAE, Department for Trade and Industry team, Manchester, U.K., and numerous educators, businesses and friends in Dubai and in the United Kingdom. I have recently joined many MeetUps in Dubai, and hope that I can collaborate with likeminded individuals who want to be the change in the world.

Related: 5 Crowdfunders to Watch – Inclusion, Empowerment and Education 

Who is your most important role model? My parents are my most important role models. They are no longer alive, but I am blessed to have had such caring, kind, patient, selfless individuals as my parents and first school. I miss them very much!

Twitter   @thelilfairtrade
Instagram   @thelittlefairtradeshop

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Edited by The Story Exchange