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Bringing back ball craftsmanship: Senda’s founder goes behind the scenes at our factory partners

My second trip to meet Senda’s Fair Trade ball producers last March in Sialkot, Pakistan was even more inspiring, productive and hopeful than my first one in 2012. This time around Senda is able to have a bigger impact on the ground due to larger sales. I also felt that I had a better understanding of the culture, the food, and even the clothes. I arrived wearing traditional white Kurta attire, much to the surprise of my hosts at the factory, who could not help smiling when they saw me. It proved to be the perfect outfit for many of my days inside and outside the factory.

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Here I am inspecting production of the new US Youth Futsal Match ball, wearing the traditional Kurta attire

A big part of the trip was about ensuring that Senda maintains our high quality standards and craftsmanship levels as our sales quickly increase thanks to the support of our customers and our retail partners like Amazon, Soccer.com, Target, Soccer Savings, Soccer Garage.  They have helped us to share Senda’s story, and have made a commitment to Fair Trade and to sourcing high-quality products from an up-and-coming, yet non-mainstream brand.

 

 

Partner logosI was very satisfied to see 7 different quality control checks along the ball production line, starting with the inspection of the raw materials in the very beginning, continuing along with the insertion of the bladder and the stitching, and finishing with the washing and packing of the product.

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A Senda ball maker runs a Quality Control check on the balls outer material before cutting it

Our producers are committed to craftsmanship and quality. They also know first-hand the importance of promoting the Fair Trade movement.  Many producers shared that their desire to see more Fair Trade certified orders inspires them to pay extra attention to their work when making Senda’s balls.

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Mr. Shakir, the new Fair Trade Liaison, shared some of his priorities to improve workers’ lives

One of the highlights of the journey was meeting Mr. Shakir Hussein, the new Fair Trade Liaison in Pakistan. He will now help and train the Fair Trade Community projects to perform risk assessments with their proposed new projects. Mr Shakir has experience with the UNDP, and is looking forward to leveraging the funds from the Fair Trade premium to make a difference for workers on the ground.

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Visiting the family of one of our Fair Trade ball producers

During my visit, I was able to participate in a special event at the factory related to Fair Trade: the delivery of backpacks and school supplies to the ball makers’ children ahead of the beginning of the new school year in April. The expenses associated with the beginning of the school year can be high for ball makers’ families, especially when some of them have 3 or more school aged children. This School Backpack and supplies project has been very popular with Fair Trade premium committees, and we look forward to seeing the impact it has on young children staying in school longer, and learning more with the right supplies.

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Delivering school bags to children was one of the most inspiring and satisfying parts of the trip

Another impactful Fair Trade project is the water purification plant that was built outside of the factory producing our premium quality soccer balls. This plant is open not only to factory workers, but to everyone in the community! During my brief visit to the water plant, which cleans the water by reverse osmosis, I saw dozens of peoples carrying clean water by bicycle, on motorcycles and in cars.  Every day there are hundreds of families that benefit from this Fair Trade project, and during the summer months the demand grows even more. The next phase of this “Access to Clean Water” project is to facilitate the delivery to the workers’ homes in buses, and the Fair Trade Premium committee hopes to start a pilot in 2017! I had the chance to try the water, and it tastes really good.

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I enjoyed trying the water from the purification plans funded by the Fair Trade Premium committee

As it was with my last trip, playing soccer with the ball makers was an important aspect of the trip that helped me to integrate into their community. It seems to be something that matters to them as well: during the 3 games played we had over 400 spectators watching their co-workers play with the same Fair Trade balls they make . The day after the match, I could feel that the ball makers were more familiar with me, shared a smile in a factory corridor, or talked to me about the match during their breaks (“Good game, well played!”).  Even after years connecting with people over a match around the world, I continue to be amazed and inspired by the unifying power of a soccer ball!

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Playing a total of three Soccer with Senda’s ball makers was an ideal way to get to know them

Finally, I visited the Lahore School of Economics to discuss their possible academic involvement in studying the effects of Fair Trade on local communities. The LSE is one of the top universities in the country, and their involvement to help study the impact of Fair Trade would be very beneficial!

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On my last day in Lahore, I had the pleasure of visiting the Lahore School of Economics to discuss the academic study of the impact of Fair Trade

It is hard to believe everything we were able to accomplish in 2 weeks. While we have heard that most brands prefer to do quick visits with suppliers to negotiate pricing and briefly discuss their new product lines, for Senda it is important to connect with our ball makers at a deeper and more direct level. We believe that it is not only a more human way of doing business, but also that this deeper connection helps Senda produce a better product that spreads the joy of soccer to the world!

 

 

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ordersBringing back ball craftsmanship: Senda’s founder goes behind the scenes at our factory partners

Earth Week “Living Your Values” Series: Dana of Soma Water

The Senda Team is proud to present our third post in the “Living Your Values” Blog Series. As part of this ongoing series, we are interviewing team members of organizations we admire to learn about why they do what they do, and how they are making a difference through social entrepreneurship.  This week, we are excited to introduce Dana Trans, ManagerSpecial Projects & Impact  at Soma Water USA.

Enjoy the story, and enter the giveaway to win a sustainable Soma Water Filtration Pitcher and a Fair Trade Senda Apex Match ball at the bottom of this page!

Interview with Dana of SOMA Water:

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  1. What’s the unique innovation that your organization brings to the market?

We bring beautiful hydration solutions with a sustainable and charitable give back component to the marketplace. Our mission is to hydrate the world, and we hope to use design as a vessel to end the world water crisis in our lifetime.

  1. What inspired you to be a part of SOMA Water?

Social impact is ingrained into the DNA of the brand, so our give and mission will always be incorporated into who we are and how we deliver on product. It is a very exciting opportunity to not only disrupt the water filtration industry, but also disrupt the way business is classically done.

  1. What part of your job brings you joy each day?

Building a brand with amazing people that are dedicated to changing the world! Every day I am surrounded by talented individuals who drive me to be the best person I can be both now and into the future.

  1. What steps do you take to live a more sustainable life?

I try to make every step of my day a conscious decision — whether that is shopping at thrift stores on the weekend, making coffee at home in the AM, or taking short showers. I do my best to be thoughtful in all that I do and how it relates to the bigger picture!

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  1. Besides, Soma Water, what is your favorite Fair Trade product and why?

My favorite Fair trade product is Alter Eco Chocolate, especially the deep dark sea salt. It is such a simple product, but it is made with integrity and the highest quality materials!

  1. What is your favorite sports memory?

My favorite sports memory was when I was a competitive gymnast for 10 years growing up. We would spend 16 hours a week at the gym, bonding as a team over the good times and hardships.

  1. What do you think Senda contributes to the Fair Trade movement?

We often associate Fair Trade to just the food space, but Senda contributes to the expansion of the Fair Trade movement into other sectors. Fair trade can be ubiquitous in every supply chain if we demand our suppliers to be conscious.

Thank you for sharing how you #LiveYourValues, Dana! We at Senda are inspired by companies like Soma that aim to do more than sell just products; they create high quality products that improve livelihoods.  #LiveYourValues by choosing Soma Water and Senda soccer balls! Enter to win below!

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Customer Lis7oEarth Week “Living Your Values” Series: Dana of Soma Water

1% for the Game: An initiative to Lead the Soccer for Social Change Movement

Soccer has an amazing power to unite people, to strengthen individuals, and to teach important life lessons.  Growing up in Argentina, I played soccer almost every day. It was more than a game, it was how I built friendships, learned life lessons, and discovered the importance of teamwork. When I moved from Argentina to the U.S. to attend college, my soccer ball was this amazing tool that allowed me to connect with new people and build lifelong friendships. With about 4% of the world’s population playing soccer, more than any other sport, it is truly a universal language.

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Participants of Street Soccer USA in San Francisco build community, and a path to housing, through soccer. Photo by Maciek Gudrymowicz

But the soccer industry, and the sports industry in general, has moved away from promoting the unifying power of sports in favor of messages of individualism and domination, with calls to action like “Prepare for Combat,” “Prepare to Dominate,” and “Boss everyone.”

Along with this emphasis on the individualistic aspect of soccer and sports, the industry has also been funneling billions of dollars towards a smaller number of wealthy teams and a few globally famous athletes, while simultaneously putting pressure on manufacturers of sports equipment to cut costs. The result of this dynamic is increasingly lower wages and poorer working conditions for soccer ball makers, as well as producers making soccer shoes and apparel. These trends, combined with the recent FIFA corruption scandal, showcase the need for a paradigm shift in the soccer industry. The beautiful game needs to regain its true essence – universal, inclusive, authentic, equalizing- and reclaim its position as a catalyzer for positive social change. This urgent need for change in the sport I love, and the mantra “Be the change you want to see in the world,” drove me to start Senda Athletics 5 years ago.

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The BORP Power Soccer program in Berkeley provides players the opportunity to enjoy a fast, and competitive game with rules similar to outdoor soccer. Photo by Scot Goodman

Senda, which means “path” in Spanish, is a California based social enterprise that manufactures premium quality Fair Trade Certified soccer balls. As a B Corporation, we aim to play a small but important role in introducing a new path for the soccer industry. Rather than bidding for multi-million dollar sponsorships, our company brings back soccer ball craftsmanship by funneling those resources into higher wages for ball makers and higher standards for the manufacturing processes. Rather than sponsoring a few superstar players, we choose to support the “unsung heroes” of soccer. Since our inception five years ago, we have supported the efforts of leading nonprofit organizations that are making a difference through the beautiful game.

Senda provides soccer balls, training bibs, and other equipment to leading nonprofit organizations like Street Soccer USA, which builds safe, healthy urban communities , Soccer Without Borders, which helps young refugees find community and support, and BORP power soccer, which provides people with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of sports.  After five years of learning from our partnerships with these leading soccer nonprofits, we feel it is time to formalize the relationship and the resources we allocate for them, and set an example for the rest of industry.  This is where our new 1% For the Game initiative comes in.

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Soccer Without Borders provides at-risk youth the opportunity to be part of a soccer team, as well as to support finish high school, and attend college. Photo by Maciek Gudrymowicz

Starting January 2016, Senda formalized its commitment to “the other soccer heroes,” by pledging 1% of our annual sales to provide much needed equipment to nonprofit organizations that are making a difference through the beautiful game. Our inspiration for this initiative comes from the 1% for the Planet organization, which brings together corporations that commit 1% of their annual sales to environmental conservation efforts. With the 1% For the Game initiative, we aim to galvanize a similar movement in the soccer industry. With the support of our growing customer base, we will honor this commitment to grassroots soccer, and lead the industry towards a more just and equitable future.  This is not a purely philanthropic commitment, but also an investment in growing the reach of the beautiful game.

With the recent growth of organizations like streetfootballworld, which 14 years ago started to assemble a global network of soccer community organizations, the timing for 1% For The Game could not be better! Streetfootballworld recently started operations in the U.S. and their trailblazing work will help guide our efforts to find the most efficient and innovative nonprofits harnessing the power of soccer to build safer, healthier, happier communities.

Soccer is more than a game and Senda is more than a business.  We are part of a movement to transform the soccer industry.  With the 1% For the Game initiative, we aim to set an example for the entire soccer industry and create a team of businesses financially committed to creating a better world through the unifying, strengthening, and teaching power of soccer. We hope that other brands will join us in committing 1% of their revenue to support vulnerable communities through soccer.


 

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Customer Lis7o1% for the Game: An initiative to Lead the Soccer for Social Change Movement

Introducing the 2016 Senda Collection: New Design and Street Ball

 

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We are kicking off 2016 in the best possible way: with a new ball line! To celebrate, we are sharing the story behind the new look, and giving you the opportunity to win your very own newly designed ball with a Give Away.  Enjoy the story about our new collection and enter the Give Away below!

Our 2016 collection has a NEW member of the family: a Street ball with a rubberized cover to offer more abrasion resistance when playing in concrete, tennis courts, basketball courts, and other hard surfaces.

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In 2010, our original ball design introduced Fair Trade soccer balls to the world. We came to love this look, but as we grew, we realized that we needed a new, more modern look, so we embarked on a journey to re-imagine our balls’ design.

Staying true to our Latin heritage, we consulted with ball designers in Argentina and Brazil, to bring in their insights and passion for the game.

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Our new ball design has a hand-painted look, representing our view of soccer as an art form! We also used the hand-painted look so that every new mark that goes onto the ball (from hitting a post or a fence, to playing on turf, to making a killer save) blends into the design. Now a mark doesn’t “ruin” your new ball, instead it adds to an existing canvas where you can express yourself.

In addition, we included three values on one panel of the ball that we believe characterize the beautiful game as it should be played: Joy, Respect and Community.Senda_Rio Futsal Club_Green_Yellow_Top

Joy: We believe in the pure joy of getting out on the pitch. Winning is fun, but it’s not the reason we play. We play simply because we love soccer!

Respect: We believe that each person’s game is a work of art – your opponents, your teammates, the referee, yourself – all bring their own expressions to the beautiful game.

Community: We believe in the unique unifying power of the world’s game. We hope that you use your Senda ball to connect with fellow soccer lovers across differences and to bring together old friends and new.

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Customer Lis7oIntroducing the 2016 Senda Collection: New Design and Street Ball

“Living Your Values” Series: Amanda of Divine

The Senda Team is proud to present our second post in the “Living Your Values” Blog Series. As part of this ongoing series, we are interviewing team members of organizations we admire to learn about why they do what they do, and how they are making a difference through social entrepreneurship.  This week, we are excited to introduce Amanda White, National Account Manager at Divine Chocolate USA.

Enjoy the story, and enter the giveaway to win delicious Fair Trade Divine Chocolate and a Fair Trade Senda Apex Match ball at the bottom of this page!

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  1. What’s the unique innovation that your organization brings to the market?

Divine Chocolate’s vision is a world where chocolate is cherished by everyone- including the family farmers who grow the cocoa.  Divine is co-owned by the 85,000 farmer members of Kuapa Kokoo, the cooperative that supplies the cocoa for each bar of Divine.  The farmers of Kuapa Kokoo get paid a Fairtrade price for their beans and receive a social premium that the cooperative invests in schools, clean drinking water, medical clinics, and women’s entrepreneurship projects.  Plus, as owners they get a share in the profits, a say in the company, and a voice in the global marketplace.

  1. What inspired you to be a part of Divine Chocolate?

I became involved in the fair trade movement as a college student, advocating for small family farmers to have better incomes and more power in the supply chain. To me, Divine represents the very best of how a company can deeply integrate those values into their business model, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work for such an innovative brand.

  1. What part of your job brings you joy each day?

It certainly helps to always have chocolate at your disposal, but even better, I get to share the unique story of Divine with chocolate lovers around the country every day.

  1. What steps do you take to live a more sustainable life?

I try to support companies that value how their products are made and how their producers are treated so that I’m not only supporting a sustainable supply chain, but sustainable livelihoods for all.

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  1. Besides, Divine Chocolate, what is your favorite Fair Trade product and why?

There are so many fair trade products that I love, whether it’s Peace Coffee or Canaan olive oil, but I probably own the most fair trade items from Mata Traders- they’re a great company that sells lovely dresses and accessories made by fair trade organizations in India and Nepal, with a focus on women’s empowerment.

  1. What is your favorite sports memory?

As the child of two Duke University alum, I was born a Blue Devils super-fan, and most fondly remember sitting in the family room with my dad as a kid and shouting at the TV during every NCAA tournament season.

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  1. What do you think Senda contributes to the Fair Trade movement?

Senda is able to share the message of fair trade to a community of consumers and companies that might not otherwise be aware of the movement- bringing fair trade to the most beloved game in the world is an incredible thing!

Thank you for sharing how you #LiveYourValues, Amanda! We at Senda are inspired by companies like Divine that aim to do more than sell products, they sell high quality products in order to improve livelihoods.  #LiveYourValues by choosing Divine chocolate and Senda soccer balls! Enter to win below!

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Customer Lis7o“Living Your Values” Series: Amanda of Divine

“Living Your Values” Series: Austin Graff of Honest Tea

The Senda Team is proud to introduce our new monthly blog series “Living Your Values”.  As part of this ongoing series, we will interview team members of organizations we admire to learn about why they do what they do, and how they are making a difference through social entrepreneurship.

As a bonus, we will be doing joint giveaways with these amazing organizations so that you have a chance to win Free Stuff! Enjoy the story, and enter the giveaway at the bottom of this page!

Interview with Austin Graff, Social Media Manager at HONEST TEA

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Administrator“Living Your Values” Series: Austin Graff of Honest Tea

Senda 5 Year Anniversary Celebrations in NorCal!

On December 5th 2015 Senda Athletics celebrated our 5th birthday with an exciting Footgolf tournament in San Leandro, California. Senda was started with a clear goal: disrupt the industry by embracing Fair Trade, bringing back craftsmanship, promoting joyfully playing, and improving lives along the way.

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AdministratorSenda 5 Year Anniversary Celebrations in NorCal!

Street Soccer USA & Senda Athletics: Tackling Homelessness Through Soccer

Street Soccer USA competed in National Cup with Fair Trade Soccer Balls, provided by Berkeley-based Senda Athletics.

The 6th Annual Street Soccer USA National Cup took place at the  San Francisco Civic Center August 15th and 16th of this year, with a total of 22 soccer teams composed of homeless men and women from 16 cities. Street Soccer USA operates programs within these cities, training homeless youth and adults year-round in preparation for the event. Street Soccer USA, a national non-profit, is committed to utilizing sweatshop-free Fair Trade Certified soccer balls.

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AdministratorStreet Soccer USA & Senda Athletics: Tackling Homelessness Through Soccer

Fantastic Futsal, Part 3: Futsal Positions

We’re back again, folks! This is the third part of our blog series in which we investigate that wonderful game of futsal. Today we’re going to talk about futsal positions. If you’re the sort of person who learns best with visual aids, then check out Ryan’s video below. He uses a whiteboard and magnets to diagram what I will write about.

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AdministratorFantastic Futsal, Part 3: Futsal Positions

Senda Joins UNICEF USA Online Panel : “Addressing Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains”

I was both thrilled and humbled to be invited to participate in a UNICEF USA Panel  “Addressing Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains”. This opportunity enabled myself and others to learn how various organizations are creating more fair supply chains and working to eliminate human trafficking, forced labor, and worker’s abuse.
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AdministratorSenda Joins UNICEF USA Online Panel : “Addressing Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains”