Like many great ideas, Banchory-Devenick School’s Fairtrade tuckshop started small.
But within weeks, the pupil-run social enterprise grew arms and legs, until the school received national recognition.
Being well aware of the cost of living crisis, the pupils had initially wanted it to be awareness-raising, rather than profit-making.
They secured a grant from Scotmid Co-op to get started, and have been going from strength to strength ever since.
Following a workshop with the Social Enterprise Academy, the pupils set up their own social enterprise called Fabulous Fairtrade Feasts.
Business plan, adverts, emails – Banchory-Devenick pupils do the lot
Like any other business, they came up not only with a company name, but also a logo, slogan, business plan, email address, and posters. They even made a professional film using green screen and advert using i-Movie.
Once a month they go shopping for ingredients before doing the baking. They then open up the shop every second week.
After a successful start, the pupils realised they did want to raise some money after all. To this end, they decided to organise a fundraiser for the Fairtrade Foundation each term.
They made and sold keyrings and friendship bands, and organised a photo shoot in the sunflower field opposite the school. They printed and framed the photos to sell.
Sponsored toilet block at Nigerian school
By now the Banchory-Devenick kids had heard of the Toilet Twinning scheme, which enables people living in poverty access to lifesaving toilets.
Photo sales from the sunflower photo shoot raised enough money to sponsor not just a toilet, but an entire toilet block at a school in Nigeria.
“Not bad for a wee school with only 41 kids,” said head teacher Karen Downie.
“The work we have done has been recognised by the Social Enterprise Academy and we picked up an award in their annual ceremony in Edinburgh in June.
“We were also delighted to pick up the award for innovation at the Scottish Fairtrade Awards 2022 ceremony in November. That was a real coup for us.”
‘They are learning so many life skills’
She added: “I am extremely proud of the work the children are doing. They are learning so many life skills.
“Best of all though, they are learning to have empathy for others and that, even though they are still young, they have a voice and they can make a difference.”
Primary Six pupil Leda said: “I very much like the idea that we’re helping a lot of people by supporting Fairtrade. We also learn a lot of skills through all the activities we do, including teamwork, communication, maths, art, and technology.”
And Primary Seven pupil Natalie added: “I think the work we are doing is very important because we’re helping farmers get fairer wages and communities to get the things they need to survive.
“We have proved that no-one is too little to make a difference.”
An ‘incredible journey’
Lynn Ogg from Scotmid Co-op said: “From an initial community grant, they have created a self-sustaining co-operative that supports Fairtrade – wow!
“They have demonstrated endless creativity, commitment and enthusiasm. We know there is more to come, and we’re thrilled to play a small part in their incredible journey.”
Finally, parent council chairman Alan Stevenson said: “Banchory-Devenick Primary have woven the understanding of being a global citizen into everyday life at the school.
“Fairtrade is a fantastic way in which our children witness the little things they do having a positive impact on other people around the world, and it gives them that sense of worth on an international scale.”