Ethical Giving through Enterprise – in Ramadan

Many of our family and friends here at the LYF are familiar with our work and already committed to donating zakat during Ramadan. But for those of you who aren’t – please read on!

Smallholder Farmers in Harar, Ethiopia

The largest portion of the world’s 800 million poor are ‘subsistence’ farmers; barely able to make a living after they’ve fed their families with the crops that they grow.

So, making enough money to be able to cultivate and sell a crop for a fair price, in order to access better health, education and housing is simply a dream for most. And all too often these farmers are also faced with climate change disasters (flooding, drought) or a war or conflict; making death from hunger an every day reality for millions.

But our approach centres on ‘help up’ – rather than the ‘hand out’ approach. Through our unique Farmers’ Voice Radio project, we give hundreds of thousands of farming families across Africa access to vital information about crop cultivation, climate change, negotiating for a better price with buyers from the North and encouraging their young people not to desert farming life for the (often false) lure of city life.

Young Ethiopian farmers learning about Farmers’ Voice Radio

So, we help these coffee, tea, rice, nuts, fruit, cocoa, shea etc. farmers in Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Sierra Leone, the DRC and Uganda to create their own radio programmes; filled with content and vital information that they have selected and designed themselves; the most important advice for them – for their crops and for their family’s survival.

We also have a UK focus; we have never been fans of the ‘Dragon’s Den/ Apprentice’ greed-focussed approach to enterprise and instead, have been working to grow a new generation of ethical entrepreneurs. In 2009, we created the world’s first refugee-owned social enterprise; the Oromo Coffee Company. And since then, we have been working with groups of disadvantaged young people to teach them about problems facing the world’s poor. After they have been made aware of the interconnectedness with those living overseas who are poverty-stricken, we then support the groups to create their own ethical and community based social enterprises – selling fairly traded products and services. This is called our ‘Not Just Us’ programme.

The first Not Just Us group – in West Yorkshire

Our groups are comprised of young people from marginalised backgrounds, who also lack privilege and advantages needed to succeed. But we also ensure that our groups are made up of people from mixed backgrounds, so that misunderstandings and prejudice can be overcome through the medium of ethical enterprise. Our very first group began in West Yorkshire, where we worked with a group of Muslim and non-Muslim youth; all of whom were at risk of long-term unemployment, who forged some life-long friendships and who have now gone on to achieve great things!

Giving it Away – for FREE

But what makes the LYF even more unique is that we are a small charity with virtually no overheads. Since 2003, we have been home-based; no expensive London rent to pay, no ridiculous CEO salaries and no feathering of our own nests. We have always been determined to keep the vast amount of funding in-country; being spent on the people who need it the most. And even better than this – our Board recently took the decision to OPEN-SOURCE our Farmers’ Voice Radio work AND our Not Just Us work; meaning that our learning and advice can now be given away – free – to the communities who need it the most.

Oromo coffee
A refugee member of the Oromo Coffee Company – proudly displaying the coffee that they sourced from Oromia, with the help of the LYF.

So if you want to be assured that your zakat will be received with huge gratitude this Eid and will go directly to the poorest people in the world overseas … please do consider donating to us – and telling others about us!

Christina Longden, Director for the LYF has been a key driving force for our work to help poorer communities both overseas and in the UK. You can find out more about Chris’ own personal passions to challenge negative perceptions of Muslims here.

See and for more. You can donate to the LYF here

LYF (of Brian)

Some years ago, Irish entrepreneur Brian Keegan found out about the work of the Lorna Young Foundation and volunteered his time and skills with one of the smallholder coffee growing communities that we were supporting in Kenya.

Brian accompanied Ian Agnew from LYF to the Rumukia Farmer Co-operative Union in the Nyeri region, where he learned about the many challenges facing some of the world’s poorest coffee growers, who lack business and marketing skills and who earn only around 1% of the retail value of their crop.

Brian and some of the coffee farmers of Rumukia

Although Brian’s business and coaching support proved to be invaluable to the farmers, Brian himself came away deeply impressed with the hard-work, the level of professionalism and the commitment that the Nyeri farming communities had for their crops.

Today, Brian is still very much committed to the principles and the practices of ethical trading. He recently got in touch with the team at the LYF and mentioned that his latest ‘Scaling Up Global’ for businesses workshop will donate all proceeds towards the work of the LYF.

So in return, we just wanted to say …. CHEERS, BRIAN!

Make your donation to the LYF here – please reference it as ‘SCALING UP’.

A HUGE THANK YOU TO ANYONE WHO DONATES TO US! DON’T FORGET TO SEE to find out what else we’ve been up to recently…

‘ENTREPRENEURS VS POVERTY’ – Brian in the coffee bushes of Rumukia, Kenya.

Remembering Daisy

The Lorna Young Foundation is incredibly sad to share with you, the news of the death of Daisy Young, Lorna Young’s mother.

Daisy was born in 1931 in Mennock, Lanarkshire and on leaving school trained to be a nurse as well as working in the mills in the area.  She met and married Bob Young and they went on to have three children. Daisy was a well known local figure, running a shop in the town of Lockerbie where the couple settled.

Daisy’s daughter Lorna was one of the pioneers of fair trade in the UK and was personally responsible for persuading national supermarkets to list fair trade products for the first time. When Lorna died at the age of 44, Daisy and Bob were devastated but continued to support their daughter’s work and were hugely proud of her achievements – efforts which continue to have an important impact on the world’s poorest people.

Daisy and Bob kept in close touch with Lorna’s former school and visited Lockerbie Academy on several occasions; reminding staff and pupils that Lorna’s legacy is carried by the Lorna Young Foundation and it’s overseas work.

Daisy’s loss will of course, be felt most profoundly by Bob and by Daisy’s close family and friends. The Lorna Young Foundation’s Director, Christina Longden says;  “I always looked forward to chatting with Daisy. She was incredibly passionate about trade injustice – about quietly getting on with doing the right things for people who held very little of the power for themselves. She had an excellent sense of humour and although she was in a great deal of pain during her last couple of years, she would always say to me soon on into our conversations; ‘but enough about me, dear – how are you?’

Daisy’s presence, wit and strength will be missed by all her close family and friends – but most of all by Bob, her dear husband and best friend.

Yorkshire Post: Go Sierra Leone!

Terrific article in the Yorkshire Post – announcing our funded project in Sierra Leone! Read below…

A Yorkshire charity is helping thousands of isolated cocoa farmers in Sierra Leone with an informative ‘forest-friendly’ radio show. Chris Burn reports.

At a time when the UK’s overseas aid contributions are very much in the headlines, a small charity from Yorkshire is showing how it can make Government-backed support go a long way.

The Huddersfield-based Lorna Young Foundation has been awarded just over £53,000 from the Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to help expand its Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative, with a further £2,000 provided by the Souter Charitable Trust.

The Farmers’ Voice Radio scheme has been running since 2010 to broadcast trusted, vital agricultural information in developing countries around the world and has reached over one million smallholder farmers to date.

Many of these farming communities, often in remote areas, are under huge pressure due to issues like climate change and intensive cultivation leading to deforestation, degraded land and declining productivity.

Chairperson, Nialaforaa village, Gola, Sierra Leone. Photo credited to Twin.
Cocoa pods. Photo credited to Twin.

The broadcasts bring together local farmers, agricultural experts and supply chain partners to share their knowledge and expertise to encourage more sustainable and effective farming techniques, as well as providing tips on how to sell produce for a good price.

Using their latest grant, the Lorna Young Foundation – named after a late Fairtrade champion – has now launched a radio project targeted at smallholder cocoa farmers living around the edge of the Gola Rainforest National Park (GRNP) in Sierra Leone. The area has been hard hit in recent years, having been on the frontline of both the civil war and Ebola crisis.

A charity spokesperson says: “The GRNP is home to many threatened species. It is a protected national park, but deforestation, slash and burn agriculture and charcoal production are huge threats. Cocoa is tree-based crop that thrives in agro-forestry conditions and can play a positive role in rainforest conservation; producing cocoa with forest-friendly credentials is a great business opportunity for local farmers, but due to geographical isolation, gender, and illiteracy, many smallholder farmers struggle to access information on how to make gains in this area. Coronavirus has exacerbated this situation by closing training programmes, shutting off trade routes and inflating local market prices.”

New programme Goolla Ndiamo Yie, which means ‘Forest Friendship’ in local language Mende, sees members of the Ngoleagorbu Cocoa Farmers Union meet each month to discuss a range of topics linked to forest-friendly cocoa production.

The discussions are recorded and edited into 15-minute programmes by community radio station, Starline FM, and broadcast twice weekly reaching an estimated listenership of 60,000.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister Baroness Liz Sugg says: “The skills and expertise in grassroots organisations from across the UK, like the Huddersfield-based Lorna Young Foundation, are changing lives in some of the world’s poorest countries.

“This innovative UK aid funded project harnesses the power of communication to support farmers to grow their way out of poverty and protect their local environment.”

LYF’s chairperson Ian Agnew says: “The LYF’s approach is simple and incredibly cost-effective. We are delighted to receive this second grant from the Government’s Small Charities Challenge Fund, which will enable us to reach even more of Africa’s poorest farmers and to assist with achieving sustained poverty reduction.

“The learning generated from this new project on forest-friendly cocoa production in Sierra Leone will allow us to expand and improve our online Farmers’ Voice Radio resources, benefiting smallholder farmers in other regions at a time when accessing face-to-face support is particularly challenging.”

For more information, visit



The LYF is pleased to announce the launch of our new website – dedicated to our Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative!

Coinciding with World Radio Day, we are revealing both our fantastic new – FREE – resource-based website, along with our new ‘brand.’ We thought that a funky little clay coloured radio would be just the ticket!

So – what are you waiting for? Scoot on over to and have a look at the enormous amount of work that our small team has put into ensuring that smallholder farmers – ANYWHERE – can now access, in order to lift themselves out of poverty.

You can also join us in our latest ventures on Twitter with: @farmersvoiceradio and on Facebook with: farmersvoiceradio

PS – a very special thank you to Sally Davidson for her stunning design work. Talented person indeed.

Bond Achievement

As a small charity, it is often very difficult to get our voice heard and our work recognised, so we were over the moon to learn that we have made the long-list for Bond’s ‘Small NGO Impact Award’ for 2020.

Bond is well-known amongst anyone who works in the international development community. It provides support, advice and campaigning activity for a huge number of UK-based NGOs. The LYF’s Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative was selected as 1 of just 13 NGOs who Bond feel are demonstrating excellent examples of high impact through their work. Terrific stuff!

It goes without saying that we wish all of the best to the other chosen NGOs and thanks to Bond – for this vote of confidence in our work.

You can find out more, at the link below:

Zakat – to Support Muslim Farmers and Communities

The Islamic faith has a long tradition of peaceful and respectful trading activities. Justice, compassion, honest work and enterprise are key components. Did you know, for example, that the Qu’ran has more written on the subject of trade and commerce, than any other subject?

The largest portion of the world’s poor, are the 800 million who live in rural areas; great distances from the nearest markets and basic health and social services. The majority are ‘subsistence’ producers or farmers; barely able to make a living beyond feeding their families enough, just to stay alive.

Making enough money to cultivate and then sell a crop for a fair price, so that they can access better health, education and housing is simply a dream for most.

Smallhold Farmers working with the LYF in Harar, Ethiopia

Muslim supporters of the LYF are keen to spread the word about this small but mighty UK based charity.  Unlike many of the other ‘household name’ charities, the LYF focuses entirely on helping poor communities both in the UK and overseas, supporting them to become effective, ethical entrepreneurs. We now work with many Muslim communities in various countries across Africa through our Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative.

Not content with providing ‘a hand-up, rather than a hand-out’, the LYF also uses its programmes to bring together different communities and people of faith. Several years ago the charity set up the ground-breaking Oromo Coffee Company  – a Fairtrade coffee company designed to support Oromo refugees in Greater Manchester.

Oromo coffee

Then the LYF set up ‘Not Just A Trading Company’ across the north of England – helping youth from different backgrounds to overcome divisions by forming their own ethical trading enterprise. The charity has also worked to support Arab producers in Palestine/Israel and continues to develop new approaches to bring communities together in the name of ethical trade.

Our first ‘Not Just A’ ethical enterprise group, West Yorkshire

Most recently, Christina Longden, Director for the LYF has been a key driving force for our work to help poor Muslim communities both overseas and in the UK. You can find out more about Chris’ own personal passions to challenge negative perceptions of Muslims here.

The LYF is a very unusual, small charity. Based in Huddersfield, UK, the organisation has minimal overheads. No expensive offices or salaries and there is certainly no feathering of our own nests! We work to keep the vast majority of our funding with the people who need it the most and who can only dream of the privileges that we have.

See and watch out for our brand new Farmers’ Voice Radio website – soon to be launched!

PLEASE consider donating zakat to The Lorna Young Foundation this year and share our work with your mosque and community groups.

Wasalaam and Peace to all this Ramadan.

Phew. What a year!

Most of us will be having a wee rest now … as we flip over our old-fashioned calendars and head into 2020.

This marks a chance for us to draw breath and to – collectively – say WOW. What an incredible year we’ve had here at the LYF.

Thanks to the galloping pace of our Hannah Davis and Hannah Clark, plus the back-up support of Christina and Cristina (hmmm – what IS it about duplicate names at the LYF…) and of course the hands-on dedication of our Board, we are in a great place and looking forward to an exciting and successful 2020.

We now have projects underway or in the pipeline in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Ethiopia. Our wonderful new website will be launched in the early New Year and we have forged some fantastic partnerships, from our firm support on behalf of DFID / UKAid relationship and with new partners; household names that we will soon be able to tell you about!

Women working working with the LYF – shea butter farmers, Ghana

As always, we have some potential exciting opportunities bubbling away in the background for 2020 and we very much welcome comments, ideas and suggestions from you – our readers and supporters.

More than anything though, we need to tell people about who we are, what we do – and why. You will already know that we are a tiny charity, making a massive impact globally – but we lack slick marketing teams and budgets. So we really do need YOU to sing our praises and to donate to us – as and when you can.

Thank you to each and every one of you who has contributed to our work this year.

Keep in touch – and let’s continue to work together in order to tackle the root causes of poverty for farmers in developing countries.

Onward – and skyward – for 2020!

Ian Agnew (Chairman)

Christmas Change?

It might seem to have gone a wee bit quiet on the ‘news’ front from all of us here at the LYF but rest assured that we have been working our socks off!

We have SO much to tell you – but being the sneaky lot that we are, we wanted to burst forth will all of this in the New Year. We have a spanking brand new website for Farmers’ Voice Radio to launch and reams of exciting project news to give you.

Most readers will know that we are a tiny team and that we truly do our best to keep every penny ‘in-country’ so that farming communities gain maximum benefits.

With this in mind – we’d be delighted if any followers of our work want to DONATE to us in order to support our work further.

Just head over to our ‘Support Our Work’ pages to see how you can help. And whatever you can give, rest assured that we will spend it more wisely than even a Wise Man would.

Thank you. And have a peaceful festive season.

Kenyan smallholders – LYF project group

Farmers’ Voice Radio: Ghana & Shea Butter – NEW project!

In May the Farmers Voice Radio (FVR) team travelled to Tamale in northern Ghana to launch a new FVR project. The project is working with female farmers involved in the harvesting of shea nuts and the production of shea butter; a highly desirable ingredient used in many food, cosmetic and hair products, as well as being a staple in local cooking.

Members of the Tungteiya Shea Butter Association processing the shea butter by hand

Northern Ghana is one of the principle areas where shea nuts are grown, but deforestation and climate change are decimating shea tree parklands. At present, demand for shea butter outstrips supply – representing an excellent business opportunity for women, who desperately need to improve their household income.

In Ghana, women gather the shea nuts from the trees and process the shea butter (a very labour-intensive process). However, most do not have the knowledge or information they need to generate a quality product and find a buyer who will give them a fair price. Radio is the most effective way of sharing knowledge with the farmers; it is trusted, inclusive and quickly reaches thousands in their fields or in their own homes. FVR is bringing these shea nut gatherers and butter producers together, along with local agricultural experts and community radio stations, to produce radio programmes that provide exactly the right information needed by the women, at the right time of year and in the language that they understand.

Hannah D and Hannah C (nicknamed Hannah Squared by the team!) conducted a training and planning workshop with the amazing project team, hosted by our partners CARE International in Tamale. The participants included our two fantastic radio presenters, Kate and Osman from GBC-URA FM; Listener Group leaders and farmers from Jawani and Tariganga, Sahada and George; agricultural extension officers from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Titus and Fausta; and Gladys and Agnes from CARE International. We also welcomed Shani, an associate of our BRAVE [HD2] partner, the Walker Institute, and expert in RAINWATCH; and Madam Fati and Thomas from the Tungteiya Shea Butter Association.

One of the key outputs of the workshop was identifying the targets for the Farmers Voice Radio programmes, which are:

  1. Improving the quality and volume of shea nut and butter production
  2. Improving market information and access for collectors and processors
  3. Improving the health and safety of collectors and processors
  4. Improving the environmental sustainability of shea in target communities

A cross-cutting theme of improving access to relevant and downscaled weather and climate information and supporting adaptation was also identified.

We also developed a Radio Programme Plan that laid out the priority issues that the radio programmes will address over the coming year. These included how to avoid snakebites when collecting shea nuts; when and how shea nuts should be collected to get the best quality; how to protect shea tree seedlings; finding alternative wood fuel strategies to deforestation; the process for producing high quality shea butter; and the different markets for selling shea nuts and butter.

One of the highlights of the week was a visit to Mbanayili, a shea butter processing centre, hosted by the Tungteiya Shea Butter Association. Tungteiya supply shea butter to The Body Shop  and have remained true to their values of promoting women and the development of the producer communities.  During the visit the team were guided through the full shea butter making process, which is all done by hand and is focussed on making the highest quality butter. The radio presenters interviewed some of the association members and the Executive Chair, Madam Fati, and links were made between the communities of Jawani and Tariganga and the Association.

Sahada is a farmer from the community of Jawani and the Listener Group Leader. Sahada really enjoyed the visit to Tungteiya and she was very keen to report back to her community everything she has learnt, and to include it in the radio programmes.  She told us ‘I like so many things about Farmer Radio because I hear what is going on in farming and I am ready to put it in to active work as a farmer, who is picking shea nut’.

This project is funded by UK Aid’s Small Charities Challenge Fund, Prince of Wales Charitable Fund, the Gibbs Trust, Edith M Ellis 1985 Charitable Trust, Ashworth Charitable Trust and the W. F Southall Trust. We want to thank all our generous donors and supporters for enabling this important work, which is strengthening the livelihood of thousands of shea nut gatherers and butter producers and their families across northern Ghana.