Glasgow-based sports ball producer Bala Sport was set up with initial funding from the Co-operative Glasgow Development Fund, and now hopes to raise £150,000 through its community share offer to develop the Fairtrade ball sector.
The community benefit society wants to expand the range of Bala Sport balls on offer and increase sales so it can consistently place orders with six Fairtrade-certified factories in Sialkot, in the Punjab region of Pakistan.
Sialkot produces over 70% of the world’s hand-stitched sports balls, but Fairtrade balls currently account for less than a quarter of 1% of the UK sports ball market, in contrast to the strong sales of other Fairtrade products such as coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar and bananas.
“Most people think it’s only farmed products that are Fairtrade, but labour in factories and hand-stitching centres can be certified too,” said Angus Coull, joint managing director of Bala.
“Fairtrade guarantees fair rates of pay and safe working conditions as well as an extra 10% cash premium which goes towards projects such as free healthcare, education, and even water purification plants for the use of whole communities, not just factory workers.”
Bala places a strong emphasis on democratic working systems. “Through Fairtrade, our workers are empowered to make decisions democratically, through a ‘joint body’, on what to invest the premium in,” added Mr Coull.
“We look forward to co-operating with our new member investors, such as the 1,100 pupils at Gleniffer High School in Paisley. It will be great to get the opinions of young people who actually use our products.”
As well as footballs, Bala Sport sells rugby balls and futsals, and plans to introduce a range of Fairtrade netballs and volleyballs in 2016.
The current community share offer has been extended to 31 July 2015. To find out more, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/fair-trade-sports-balls/