General Assembly and Board

The international Fairtrade system is governed by the General Assembly and the Board of Directors. Members of the international Fairtrade system meet once a year at the General Assembly. This assembly with 50 percent producer representation/50 percent national Fairtrade organization representation decides on membership issues, approves the annual accounts, and ratifies new Board directors.

There are also annual assemblies for each national Fairtrade organization and the producer networks.

The Board of the international Fairtrade system is elected by the General Assembly and includes:

  • four board members nominated by the three producer networks

  • four board members nominated by the national Fairtrade organizations (NFOs)

  • three independent board members

Fairtrade International Board

Jean-Paul Rigaudeau (Independent), Chair

Jean-Paul Rigaudeau is an executive with experience in health care and consumer goods in the United States, Europe, Japan and Latin America. He spent 30 years in leading positions in blue chip companies such as Beiersdorf (Nivea), Johnson&Johnson and Kraft, where he was EU President with responsibility for the coffee and chocolate businesses in particular. From 2009 to 2013, he was the CEO of Unilabs, Europe’s leading supplier of diagnostic services.

Rigaudeau has extensive experience in global management, growth strategy and team development. He has served on numerous boards, including the German Branded Goods Association.

Dr Jeya Wilson (Independent), Vice-Chair

Dr Jeya Wilson has held executive positions across a broad spectrum of organizations, sectors and countries. These include CEO of Africa’s largest Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Director for Business Partnerships at UNDP, CEO of the World Heart Federation, and Executive Director of the International Organizations MBA at the University of Geneva.

She was the founding CEO (and now Board Director) of the Nigeria-based Africa Initiative for Governance, a private sector led initiative to transform the public sector in Africa. She serves as an independent member of the finance and audit committees of the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization and the Global Fund, and is a Governor of Northumbria University.

Jeya has carried out research on topics such as the impact of foreign investment on African small-scale enterprises, and making business work for the poor. She has a Doctorate in International Relations from the University of Oxford where she was President of the Oxford Union, and holds the Financial Times Non-Executive Director Diploma.

Melissa Duncan (NFO representative), Treasurer

Melissa Duncan is a shareholder director of a long-established manufacturing business in the North of England and of a start-up lingerie design business. She spent five years working for a leading Fair Trade organization and development charity in the UK and served as a Trustee and the Vice Chairman of the UK Fairtrade Foundation for six years.

She has a 20 year background in marketing and communications which spans corporate and charity sectors, including WHSmith plc, where she held the position head of communications. An American, Melissa also worked in East Asia for a number of years, before moving to the UK to do an MBA at Cranfield University and ultimately settling there.

Bharath Mandanna (Producer representative)

Bharath has a long history with the Fairtrade system, having served for four years as Chair of the Association of Indian Fairtrade Producers (AIFP) from 2006 to 2010 and thereafter as the Chair of the Network of Asia & Pacific Producers from 2010 to 2017. He was also Vice President of the Plantation Division of Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Ltd, where he worked for over 35 years. All the company’s tea plantations are Fairtrade certified.

Bharath is currently Chair of Fairtrade International’s Nominations Committee and was previously a member of the Finance Committee. He is now retired and spends his spare time working on his coffee farm in India.

Charbel el Fakhri (Producer representative)

Charbel El Fakhri is a young wine producer from the North of the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. He has represented ‘Les Coteaux d’Heliopolis’ cooperative since 2012, and has been striving ever since to see his village prosper.

Charbel is Chair of the African and Middle Eastern network of producers (Fairtrade Africa), serving for his first year on its board.

He holds a wine executive MBA from Kedge business school in Bordeaux, France. Charbel originally majored in product design, and worked for 7 years as an art director. It wasn’t until 2010 that he went back to his roots and joined his village’s cooperative, where he has been an active and dynamic member.

Marike de Peña (Producer representative)

Marike de Peña is Director and co-founder of Banelino, a banana cooperative comprising nearly 400 small farmers in the Northwestern Dominican Republic, since 2000. She also is Chair of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small Producer Organizations (CLAC) and has served on its board since 2006. 

Marike was born in Holland, but has lived and worked in the Dominican Republic for 25 years. Among other positions, she worked for the Dominican Land Reform Institute, where she supported small farmer groups in developing sustainable agricultural practices. She continued her focus on supporting small farmers by co-founding the Banelino cooperative in 1996. The cooperative works to defend the interests of farmers in the market and promotes strong farmer alliances and organization. Marike is also coordinator of a network of banana farmers, and president of the Dominican national platform for small Fairtrade farmers.

A strong advocate for the power of Fairtrade, Marike believes that it provides the social, economic and environmental conditions necessary for farmers to take control of their own lives and produce real and long-lasting development.

Ian Bretman (NFO representative)

Ian Bretman has played a central role in the development of the Fairtrade system for 20 years. From 1997 to 2008 Ian was Deputy CEO at the UK’s Fairtrade Foundation, leading work on mainstreaming Fairtrade products in the British market. From 2008 to 2012 he worked as Executive Vice-Chair of Fairtrade International, responsible for strategic planning, stakeholder relations and governance, in which capacity he led work on making the Regional Producer Networks co-owners of the Fairtrade system alongside the market-based members.

Ian’s connections with the wider Fair Trade movement date back to 1985 when he joined Oxfam GB’s trading division, working with handcraft producers as well as small farmers. Overall, Ian’s professional career extends over 40 years and includes work with travel, oil, engineering and publishing businesses as well as senior management roles in the voluntary sector. In recent years Ian has combined consultancy work (including several Fairtrade-related assignments) with a small portfolio of non-executive positions.

Melchior Lengsfeld (NFO representative)

Melchior Lengsfeld has been the Executive Director of Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, a Swiss-based NGO engaged in international cooperation since 2005. Its mission is to improve the living conditions of disadvantaged populations in 32 partner countries in Africa, Asia, South and Central America and Eastern Europe. The promotion of smallholder farmers through sustainable agriculture, secure land rights, fair value chains and market system development is one of Helvetas' focus themes.

In earlier assignments Melchior worked in India, Mozambique and Mali, among other topics on the development of national and international value chains under different certification schemes, and on the formulation of Fairtrade standards. Melchior has been a member of the foundation council of Max Havelaar Switzerland since 2006, at present as its vice-chair.

Tapan Ray (Producer representative)

Tapan Ray is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Nature Bio-Foods Ltd, dealing in organic and Fairtrade certified products. He is a postgraduate in Agricultural Science with more than 20 years of experience in the sector including farming operation, supply chain management, quality and food safety certification, finance, product development, export and domestic business development and has fair understanding of the socio-economical dynamics of farming communities across India and overseas.

Tapan is a board member of the Association of Indian Organic Industry. He is also the president of the Fair Farming Foundation, an NGO working on the various social issues in different parts of India. He has been associated with Fairtrade for many years; during the last general assembly of the Network of Asia and Pacific Producers (NAPP) in February 2014 he got elected as a board member representing rice and cotton producers under contract production. He is also the coordinator of the NAPP Rice and Cotton Network.

Valentina Tripp (NFO representative)

Valentina Tripp is the Executive Director Transformation for Simplot and leads the Top Cut Food Group, with operations across Australia, China, Japan and South Korea servicing the food service and catering sectors. Simplot is one Australia’s largest food manufacturers. Valentina is also the Chair of the Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand Board.

Valentina has over 20 years commercial experience with expertise in corporate strategy, operational restructuring, turnaround, commercial due diligence, supply chain, international trade, manufacturing, sourcing, brand and portfolio management coupled with CPA and MBA qualifications. Valentina was formerly the National Sector Leader for Consumer Products for KPMG’s Management Consulting Division, partnering with clients to improve their strategic and operational performance. Valentina also served on the KPMG Global Retail and Consumer Sector Leadership Team. Valentina has worked across international markets developing market entry strategies and managing the end-to-end international supply chain operations. Valentina has published the Australia Food & Grocery Council Annual State of Industry Report from 2009-2014.

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