Harriet Lamb

Photo credit: Matt Crossick/Fairtrade International

Harriet Lamb

Harriet Lamb CBE (Hon LLD 2011) is the Chief Executive of Fairtrade International, a global organisation which seeks to secure a better deal for farmers and workers. The Fairtrade system works with 1.3 million people across more than 70 developing countries, with its products sold in 125 countries.

As Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation for just over a decade, Harriet oversaw a huge increase in UK sales, from £30m to £1.5 billion by 2012.
She is also the author of Fighting the Banana Wars and other Fairtrade Battles.

During her Fairtrade journey there have been plenty of highlights:

“It’s hard to choose because Fairtrade has been a series of steps forward, each of which has been fantastic at the time but has then been superseded by the next leap up!” she explained. “Maybe when Sainsbury’s switched all their bananas to Fairtrade as that meant Fairtrade was becoming mainstream; but it could be when we hit 1,000 Fairtrade Towns – or when we started Fairtrade olive oil from Palestine, or launched Fairtrade gold with a single mother, who cried as she held the first ingot of Fairtrade gold and spoke about how tough it is as one of the few women in mining in Bolivia…”

Harriet admires women who are working to challenge inequalities and injustice but particularly those creating living alternatives; demonstrating that the world can be different.

She is constantly inspired by the many women smallholders and workers she meets, who are succeeding against the odds.

“Just last week I met a young woman, Alida Strauss, who left her village to attend school in Cape Town and came home afterward uncertain of her future, whether there would be any opportunities in this small town,” she said.

“But then she applied for a job at this growing cooperative - and after 11 years, she is now the general manager! She told me how the cooperative has changed things and young people see possibilities to stay in the community.”

Harriet finds joy on a daily basis: “My children being kind to others; the sun shining on daffodils dancing in the wind; a random stranger smiling as I cycle by…..the little moments of each day.”

As someone who meets people working in the toughest of conditions, she believes in the importance of a good sense of humour and making the most of life.

“Laugh a lot and have fun - the happier you are, the more you will succeed – and the stronger you will be when all the cynics tell you ‘It cannot be done.’