Our general assembly and board

The international Fairtrade system is governed by the General Assembly and the Board of Directors.

25080 General Assembly Voting 870
Representatives voting at Fairtrade's general assembly, where producers have 50 percent of the vote.
Image © Javier Luna

Members of the international Fairtrade system meet once a year at the General Assembly. This assembly combines 50 percent producer representation with 50 percent national Fairtrade organization representation, and decides on membership issues, approves the annual accounts, and ratifies new Board members.

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

  • three independent board members

Fairtrade International board

Jean-Paul Rigaudeau (Independent), Chair

Jean-Paul Rigaudeau

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.

Mary Kinyua (Producer representative), Vice-Chair

Mary Kinyua

Mary Kinyua joined the board of Fairtrade International in July 2019. She has over 15 years of experience in various fields of leadership, including work at a Fairtrade certified producer organization in Kenya as well as serving as Chair of the board of Fairtrade Africa and Chair of its East and Central Africa Network.

During her time in these boards, Mary focused on creating stronger accountability and governance structures. She is also pursuing a PhD at the University of Nairobi.

Melissa Duncan (NFO representative), Treasurer

Melissa Duncan

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.

Bill Barrett (NFO representative)

Bill Barrett

An advocate for Fair Trade for more than three decades, in 1997 Bill formed a Fairtrade coffee roasting worker cooperative in Canada, which became a founding licensee of Fairtrade Canada. He has been in governance leadership positions in a variety of coops, NGOs, businesses and a labour union.

Bill has worked directly with producer coops around the world on different projects. He is also a photographer and an independent documentary film maker. He has been on the board of Fairtrade Canada since 2016.

Ian Bretman (NFO representative)

Ian Bretman

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.

Uwe Hölzer (Independent)

Uwe Hölzer

Uwe Hölzer has a 25 year track record at executive level in the Food- Retail Industries. After graduating from University of Cologne (Diploma in Business and Marketing Management) in 1991 he started his business career in Germany, first with REWE Group and then in 1992 as CEO ALDI Discount Ltd. in Eastern Germany. In 1999 he joined Metro Group as the CEO of Schaper Ltd. and 2 years later he signed as responsible for Real Ltd., the Retail branch of the Group.

His first international assignment brought him and his family to Vietnam in 2006, in charge for Metro Cash & Carry. Here he first confronted the poor living conditions of the farmers and fishermen, and together with his team and NGOs began working on improving their situations. It was a very valuable and educational time for Uwe and extremely helpful for his later assignments as CEO Metro China and Iran. He left Metro Group in 2016, is the founder of a retail tech-start-up and supports sustainable young food companies as an advisor and investor.

Bijumon Kurien (Producer representative)

Bijumon Kurien

Bijumon Kurien, Board Member of Fairtrade International and Chairman of Network of Asia Pacific Producers (NAPP), is a dynamic social activist who has redefined the sustainable farming scenario in the Asia-Pacific region over the last two decades. He is the President of Manarcadu Social Service Society (MASS), a successful Fairtrade and organic certified coop from India with 1664 members and families, enjoying secure and sustainable livelihoods, through fair-trade and organic business. He has implemented Fairtrade projects for USD 2 million for sustainable livelihoods, community development and eco-friendly programmes of smallholding farmers, farm workers, women self-help groups, tribal communities, and youngsters in the remote hilly regions of Kerala, India.

Bijumon was instrumental in setting up farmer cooperatives in Asia and Africa and instigated a sustainability education initiative in India – International Sustainability Academy – and an ecotourism brand named Earthbuilders. He received the Biggest Fairtrade Fan Award of Fairtrade International in 2016 at Berlin for his undying commitment to the cause. Bijumon maintains close relations with PUM Netherland and SES Germany, Rotary International, and many other leading NGOs in the world. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Mahatma Gandhi University, India.

Miguel Ángel Munguía Gil (Producer representative)

Miguel Ángel Munguía Gil

Miguel Ángel Munguía is CEO of EDUCE SC, a beekeeping cooperative in Yucatán, Mexico. He studied Economics and has a master's degree in rural development. For almost 30 years he has worked in favor of small beekeepers contributing to organizational processes aiming to more direct sales of honey (reducing middlemen). Today, EDUCE has more than a thousand associated producers in the three States of the Yucatan Peninsula, and is both Fairtrade and Organic certified.

Miguel Ángel has been an important promoter of small producers. In 1996 he founded, in partnership with other colleagues, the Latin American Network of Small Beekeepers (PAUAL in Spanish) linked to fair trade. He feels that the spaces created within PAUAL for exchange and training greatly strengthened all the cooperatives. In 2004, together PAUAL and CLA, a coffee network, decided to create CLAC (the Latin America and Caribbean Fair Trade Network of Small Producers and Workers). Miguel Ángel has been a member of the board of CLAC for two periods. He has been a member of the Board of Max Havelaar France as well. He is the founder, together with other activists, of the MAOGM Movement to defend biodiversity, agroecology and the Mayan territory against the threat of Monsanto introducing transgenic soy and pesticides to the Yucatan Peninsula.

Merling Preza Ramos (Producer representative)

Merling Preza Ramos

Merling Preza Ramos is a Nicaraguan smallholder coffee producer and CEO of PRODECOOP, R.L. Since 1989, she has collaborated with Nicaraguan producing cooperatives in institutional strengthening, funding, training, technical assistance, and commercialization. Since 1993, Merling has accompanied coffee producing cooperatives in their commercialization and positioning in the international market, by targeting the specialties market and defining internal and external strategies. The different representation positions she has held have mainly focused on establishing and defending organized smallholder producers’ interests and adding value to organizations and institutions, especially in Fair Trade.

Merling has served as former Board Chair of CAFENICA, Vice-president of CONACOOP/Nicaragua, Board Member of FENIAGRO, President of the Nicaraguan Fair Trade Coordinator, former Board Chair of CLAC and current Vice-president of CLAC, former President of RED CAFÉ Coordinator/CLAC, former Board Chair of Cooperativa Sin Fronteras, Board Member of CSF, former Guardian President of TWIN/England, former Fairtrade Foundation Board Member/England, former Board Member of OCIA INTERNACIONAL/USA, and Fair Trade America Board Member. She has Bachelor in Business Administration, with an International Marketing specialization.

Christian Varga (NFO representative)

Christian Varga

Christian Varga is founder of and executive advisor at ImpactLinx.com, a consultancy company specialised in developing risk-resilient strategies, in designing and implementing organizational change processes as well as agile monitoring solutions. Christian is an international cooperation and organizational development professional with 15 years of experience in strengthening and leading organizations and international networks. Before starting his own company, Christian held various senior management roles in the development cooperation and humanitarian aid sector, at HQ level as well as at the operational field level. In 2005-2006 he worked in Pakistan leading the humanitarian response of a major NGO to the devastating earthquake in the North of the country.

Before his time in the development and humanitarian sector Christian worked as a journalist and editor for the Swiss News Agency and a regional newspaper. Since 2016 he has served on the board of directors of the Max Havelaar Foundation, Switzerland’s Fairtrade organization. Christian holds a master’s degree in social anthropology and political sciences from the University of Berne, is an alumnus of the Saïd Business School Oxford and studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

Dr Jeya Wilson (Independent)

Dr Jeya Wilson

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.