The first question always must be, “the benefit is for whom”? Peace and security are built on democracy, human rights and values, values which respect people, our human capital. Peace is that which is in people’s hearts. Democracy and human rights are built on economic, social and cultural rights, the rights of the people.
The economy, entrepreneurship, small businesses, big businesses, incomes, that’s trade. Social rights are your rights to health, education, the environment, housing, employment. These are things that are also provided by trade. Your cultural rights, the arts, religion, the freedom of the media, these are also things which go with trade.
So there is a huge benefit to trade, but trade is not acceptable unless we consider the economic, social and cultural rights of the people. The first question always has to be, “how does the trade affect our people?” My name is Madi; Madi stands for “Make A Different Idea” and everything I do has to make a difference.
I am a survivor of domestic violence, a single parent, and I was in poverty when I started my first business in my kitchen at home. Today, I’m running 8 international companies and organisations across the world. We use the profit to empower people, create more entrepreneurs, support enterprises to grow and educate.
We invest in sustainable trade and economic growth and that is why trade is so valuable. I’m also a member of the European economic and social committee, where we get to work on policies before they are made. Madi is about valuing people and speaking out against injustice, but also about using the tools of trade. I am proud to be an entrepreneur. 98% of the backbone of any economy is small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), established by entrepreneurs who have fought to set their businesses up. How many times have we been asked about trade negotiations?
In Europe, all trade negotiations are held behind closed doors (e.g. TTIP). It is hypocritical to think that we should have trade negotiations with certain countries, while we don’t have with others. But there is a way forward. The first question must be, “how does the proposed trade affect the people?” “How can we empower the people to be a part of that trade?”
There must be an international safeguard clause that allows civil society to stop any trade negotiations, to stop any routes being built if they don’t benefit society, or the economic, social and cultural rights of people in any country. We must focus on local people, on local trade, entrepreneurs, local growth, building from within a country, job creation, innovation, skills development. We have to value our human capital.
How will your trade plans for trade affect me in reality? Ghandi said, “you must be the change you want to see.” Madi says, “you must be the change you want to see; no excuses!”
Author: Ms. Madi Sharma
United Kingdom Representative, European Economic and Social Committee
Ms. Sharma was appointed to the EESC by the Prime Minister, representing the Employers’ Group. She has been appointed to European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani’s Advisory Board for Industry and Enterprise representing entrepreneurship. Her slogan is "You must be the change you want to see—No excuses." The name “Madi” stands for “Make a Difference Ideas” and is the basis for the "MADI Group," which is a group of international private and social enterprises and NGOs with a mission: Local Action, Global Impact. Her focus is in the field of entrepreneurship, female entrepreneurship, diversity, gender balance and her passion for corporate social responsibility.