Barking & Dagenham College students inspired by Mandela say ‘Pants to Poverty’

Pants for Poverty

Pants for Poverty - Credit: Archant

Inspired by the words of Nelson Mandela, thousands of students are supporting a campaign to help struggling farmers in India by selling fair trade pants.

Pants for Poverty

Pants for Poverty - Credit: Archant

Pants to Poverty, founded in 2005 by social entrepreneur Ben Ramsden, supplies 20 countries around the world, supporting more than 5,000 farmers.

Pants for Poverty

Pants for Poverty - Credit: Archant

Within a week of launching their first campaign, Pants to Poverty made one of the world’s most powerful companies pull a killer pesticide off the market.

In the 1970s a “green agricultural revolution” swept India calling on farmers to relinquish their old ways of farming and use chemical pesticides and fertilizers and sew seeds developed by big pharma companies.

Farmers were promised a better life, but it didn’t come and they lost control of the fundamentals of farming and had to pay for the consequences – with some turning to suicide.

To raise more awareness and vital funds, Pants to Poverty formed a partnership with the Gazelle Group of Colleges which operate Barking & Dagenham College. In doing so A Pants Company was formed and the Pantrepreneur competition in its fourth year, was founded.

Steven Upton, chief executive officer of A Pants Company, said: “It’s great to see people taking the step away from getting their clothes made at sweat shops and moving to fairtrade.

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“Pants to Poverty is setting a fantastic example that other clothing retailers should follow.”

The competition has so far supported more than 2,000 students across more than 25 further colleges in the UK.

Barking & Dagenham College is now competing against all the other Gazelle colleges in a competition that sees students selling as many pants as they can in a six-week period to win a trip of a lifetime to meet cotton farmers in Chetna farm, India.

In India they will live and work with the farmers and factory workers to discover the hardships they face.

Pantrepreneur also helps teach students exactly how and what it takes to run their own business, as well as giving them real-life experiences of dealing with customers.

Tom Gill, 21, who is a member of the team and studying animation, said: “I entered Pants to Poverty to get the experience needed to be able to create my own company. I also wanted to make a difference and to help people that need it.

“Since I have been in this competition I have networked with lots of people and I have realised that my dream of helping can be done and I want to continue to do things like this for many years to come.”

Overall A Pants Company has raised £2,220 and 20 per cent goes to the pi foundation set up to run the Pants to Poverty campaign.

The target is to reach £4,000, with less than two weeks left.

The pi foundation, also founded by Ben Ramsden, is the charity where all the money raised from Pants to Poverty goes to support fair-trade for the cotton farmers.

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Entrepreneurial Barking & Dagenham College students tackle poverty selling pants