Warfair – helping businesses in warzones to export across the world
#MoreThanExport – Optimum Export’s blog series about exporting with a bigger purpose
They trade with quality products from conflict-affected countries along with European partners. We do this because trading is a dignified way to counteract the devastating effects of war and to create income, jobs and peace.
They source the products and help with transport, quality assurance, due diligence and control and everything else which makes exporting from warzones so difficult.
They also help facilitate payment to the producers.
Watch this short informative video, in Danish, about About – warfair (website in English)
Coffee from Yemen is the world’s best. Mocca, the town is in Yemen and they exported coffee from there in the 17th century.
Christian Friis Bach – The man behind Warfair… Shopping for peace
Christian Friis Bach has had an esteemed career and track record within overseas development.
He was a member of the Danish Parliament and Secretary of State for overseas development. Then, he became secretary-general at the Danish Refugee Council and he was also deputy secretary-general at the United Nations
Sourcing the products and the producers
Warfair had hoped that in the beginning NGOs and United Nations agencies, that work in areas affected by conflict, would be able to help with contacts to potential producers. That didn’t work because they don’t deal with trade, so they have had to rely on other contacts.
Their starting point was to ask what kind of products they are proud of in different countries and that was how we sourced liquorice, nuts and safran from Afghanistan, cashew nuts from Burkina Faso, coffee from Yemen and sesame from Somalia The products are generally not the cheapest, but there is a market for this type of high quality products.
Warfair are keen to emphasise that people should not buy the products out of pity, as that is not sustainable. We want people to buy the products because they are high quality, just as when you buy good wine or food.
Where Warfair operates
Apart from generating an income to the producers in these conflict zones, the products also play a role in creating more a positive image of the countries, so that Afghanistan and Yemen are not just associated with war.
The company has an Advisory Board that helps Warfair with strategy, economy and business development and an Ethical Committee that overlooks the implementation of the ethical policies and principles.
6000 packages of Safran to Irma (a key Danish supermarket)
Two large boxes have arrived (see below) with 6000 bags with 0.5 g of Safran in each to the Danish retailer Irma. It is their first “private label” production – specially packed bags so they can fit into the special sustainable spice packaging in Irma. By moving bags, stickers and packing to Afghanistan we create even more income and more jobs. This is needed in Afghanistan – especially right now where international troops leave the country. It creates uncertainty and the large turnover and income created by the foreign presence disappears.
One of those who have been working in safran production is Shah Mohammad for 43 years. He had his own business, but went bankrupt during Covid-19 and has now a job at Afghanistan Saffron Company, where they buy our Safran. He weighs Safran and it provides income to the family. The work is not so physically hard, and it has therefore also helped with the back problems he had previously.
Coffee from Yemen to South Korea and Denmark
After a persistent effort of partner Yemen Journey the first container with top quality Yemenitic coffee is on the way to South Korea. It is one of the first major business orders outside Europe that Warfair has helped to secure.
The coffee comes from the well-known coffee farmer Ghalib Ahmed al-Hamasi, Hadda in the Haraz region and has a cupping score of over 88, which is very high.
After many challenges, there are now over two tons of quality coffee at a value of total approx.
£50,000 on the way.
So, exporting with a bigger purpose also makes commercial sense #MoreThanExport
The next blogs in the series include
- How a woman-owned business in Afghanistan is selling premium, handpicked quality dried fruits and nuts across the world
- How genuinely diverse and inclusive businesses are better at developing export with a bigger purpose