Visitors to an unassuming East London newsagent in trendy Dalston are in for a surprise this week and next because within the magazine racks and behind the countless snacks, inquisitive chocolate lovers are invited to press a secret button that will see the shop floor rotate 180 degrees (see video below) and transport them to a West-African themed speakeasy-style cafe.
The initiative has been created to support Fairtrade’s ‘She Deserves’ campaign. Rosine’s Newsagents on Kingsland Road is actually Rosine’s Hot Chocolate Salon, named after a real cocoa farmer from Côte d’Ivoire.
Fairtrade Fortnight’s She Deserves campaign aims to establish a living income for women cocoa growers in West Africa. Fairtrade standards ensure that women have a voice in the community, are represented in decision-making and benefit from the increased value of Fairtrade sales.
All money raised by the salon will help fund programs such as the Women’s School of Leadership in Côte d’Ivoire. The project aims to empower women cocoa farmers in West Africa to become business owners, members of farming groups and leaders in their communities.
UK comedian Harry Hill, one of the visitors to Rosine’s, said: “I’ve been a supporter of Fairtrade for more than 10 years and have visited Fairtrade banana and cocoa farmers in Ghana as well as Fairtrade peanut farmers in Malawi. I've seen how Fairtrade works and how easy it is to help change people's lives just by choosing products that carry the Fairtrade mark when we shop. This year, I’m behind Fairtrade Fortnight #SheDeserves 100%.”
Julia Nicoara, from the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “We’re excited to launch the immersive Rosine’s Hot Chocolate Salon, an experience that allows chocolate lovers interact with the very people who make their favorite delight possible. This is not just any pop up; visitors are engaged in the lives of the cocoa farmers behind a bar of chocolate and every time you buy a Fairtrade certified product, you are making a real difference.”
As part of the Fairtrade Fortnight, and to celebrate 25 Years of the Fairtrade Foundation, the organization held a reception at the Houses of Parliament to raise political awareness to the She Deserves campaign.
One of the guests was Awa Bamba from the Women’s School of Leadership in Côte d’Ivoire, who told MPS and invited guests about the harsh conditions endured by women on the farms.
“A female worker on a cocoa farm wakes up at 5am very morning, starts by cleaning her house, then gathers water from the village well, before cooking breakfast for the family before starting work in the field at 7am.”
The work is backbreaking, she said, cutting and gathering the cocoa pods from the trees and helping with the drying process.
The reason cocoa is "tasty", she said is “because it is made by women”.
But at the end of all their hard work, Bamba said women are left without anything, even though they do all the work.
The situation is totally unfair and women’s rights are being abused, Bamba told British politicians. “As a human being, we have the right to earn an income from our work,” she said.
She said the Fairtrade Premium re-establishes a balance and part of the money goes towards training women to be more empowered on the farm.
“Fairtrade really helps women to become more independent and supports them in creating a better future for their children and creating better opportunities for the whole family,” she said.