They say fair exchange is no robbery and a new venture at the Social Enterprise Hub on Market Street in Lurgan is setting out to prove just that.
Officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council Darryn Causby, the event also saw a presentation to Craigavon Area Food Bank.
The purpose of Fair Exchange is to sell goods on a commission basis to help organisations that are providing services in their communities worldwide.
It has a committee of seven members, including one paid employee, who meet on a monthly basis at which the distribution of profits to charities will be decided.
Proceeds are used for community based projects either local or international. The first cheque was given to Craigavon Community Foodbank, as coming up to Christmas it was thought appropriate to support a charity close to home.
Goods are sourced from Third World countries through mainly Christian based organisations employing people and producing goods rather and than giving them a discounted price they are given full price for their efforts - hence Fair Exchange.
As well as Third World countries goods are also sourced from the likes of Cambodia and Eastern Europe.
Driving the project forward is Charlie Gardiner. He said the seed was sown some years ago but it was only when he spotted the opening of the Social Enterprise Hub in Lurgan that things really began to take shape.
He told the ‘MAIL’: “I was coming past the hub and asked what they did. I felt Fair Exchange was a good social enterprise business, I’ve been working for four to six months to get it open.”
Goods are also sourced closer to home as Charlie explained: “A lot of furniture is taken in and sold for people on a commission basis or wholesale seconds.”
The Southern Social Enterprise Hub promotes and supports social enterprise throughout the Southern Social Investment Fund area. The Hub provides incubation space for new and developing social enterprises and also offers information, training and support to assist social enterprises to get started and grow.
The Southern Area Social Enterprise Hub is one of eleven Hubs established across the nine Social Investment Fund zones under the Northern Ireland Executive’s Delivering Social Change framework.
With £4million of funding from the Executive’s Delivering Social Change fund, the Social Enterprise Hub Signature Programme addresses poverty, dereliction and unemployment by encouraging social enterprise business start up within local communities.