Fairtrade Producer Elected Board Chair
Director of Fairtrade banana cooperative named Chair of Fairtrade International Board, first time a Fairtrade producer holds the position.
Marike de Peña, former Vice Chair of the Fairtrade International Board, has been elected Chair. De Peña is the Director of Banelino, a 400-member strong banana cooperative in the Dominican Republic, and brings a wealth of experience and a rich perspective to the Board role.
De Peña was born in Holland and has lived and worked for more than 25 years in the Dominican Republic. Prior to co-founding the Banelino cooperative in 1996, she worked for the Dominican Land Reform Institute supporting small farmers as they developed sustainable agricultural practices. She also is current Chair of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small Producer Organizations (CLAC), the Fairtrade Producer Network representing Latin American and Caribbean farmers and workers.
“It’s a clear sign of growing producer empowerment in the Fairtrade system. We in Fairtrade have a unique structure that gives us the opportunity to join our strengths – producers, workers, national Fairtrade organizations and civil society – to make Fairtrade grow in impact,” said de Peña. “The ‘producer driven’ concept is more than just some words, it is part of our daily mission, producers and workers participate actively in the governance of the Fairtrade system.”
“I believe this is a sign to the world that Fairtrade is more than just products and markets, it’s a movement of dedicated people working together to change the rules of trade and enable producers and workers to decide on their own future.”
Along with the election of de Peña, the Board elected Esther Guluma as Vice Chair, who previously served as Board Chair in 2011-2012. Guluma has extensive experience in international development and research, policy and public affairs work. She has served in various roles with UNICEF and is currently heading UNICEF operations in Malawi.
Fairtrade would like to thank Molly Harris Olson for her dedicated service as she steps down to take on another role in the Fairtrade system. Her leadership has led to greater integration of the entire system; a marked increase in representation of farmers and workers at the highest level of governance; and strong improvements in measuring and maximizing the impact of Fairtrade.
On this occasion, we also pause to remember our dear friend Raúl del Águila, who passed away a year ago this week. His incredible dedication to the movement – and small producers in particular – is greatly missed by us all in Fairtrade. Read about his work and service here.