Trade Aid founder Vi Cottrell still advocating for equity and fair trade
Trade Aid was founded in 1973 on the revolutionary values of fair trade and social enterprise. Following a life changing trip to India in 1969 to work with Tibetan refugees, Vi and Richard Cottrell returned to Christchurch determined to continue this work. Inspired by a new and revolutionary wave of social development theory, they gathered a small group of social justice advocates around them and went on to co-found Trade Aid and start a retail revolution in Aotearoa that’s felt across the globe. A social enterprise based on trade, not aid.
Vi Cottrell has played many roles within the organisation, most significantly as Trade Aid’s Development Manager, a role in which she was still involved in until her retirement in 2016. Her understanding of the partners Trade Aid works with, the issues they face, the philosophies behind fair trade and the power it has to bring change, are equaled by none. Vi continues to be heavily involved in the strategic and philosophical direction of Trade Aid with her roles on the Trade Aid Importers Board and Development Committee.
Vi has been honoured for her life’s work with various awards. In 1994 Vi was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for Community Service. In 2016 she was recognised in the Zonta Women of Achievement awards. She is an Honourary Member of the World Fair Trade Organization, and in 2017 was recognised in the New Year Honours for business leaders, and named as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Trade Aid and the Fair Trade Movement.
She has seen Trade Aid grow from a seed of an idea into a movement that includes 28 stores nationwide, a wholesale business, manufacturing facilities, including a chocolate factory, and engages thousands of volunteers nationwide.
Through this growth, Trade Aid has held true to its founding principles and firmly believes in the power of every single person to change the future. Every good choice makes the world a little better. And, buying good products made in a fair, sustainable way makes life better for everyone, protects our beautiful earth, and our way of life. Trade Aid’s fivefold mantra – buy good, live green, be kind, speak up, make change – reminds people that we all have the power to make positive change every day.