Aleksi Saarikkomäki - intern

Exploring fair trade exports

Aleksi in Tanzania“The key idea of my project is to find out whether or not it is profitable to import Tanzanian products into Finland. And is it still profitable when you follow the rules of Fair Trade so the local entrepreneurs get the profit from exporting their products.” Aleksi Saarikkomäki, 25, says about his internship in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Saarikkomäki, who studies at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Finland, is researching local products, transportation costs and retailers. After this Saarikkomaki calculates how much it costs to export Tanzanian crafts to Finland. The most important thing is to find out how local entrepreneurs would benefit from these arrangements. Is it profitable to them to export their products to Finland?

“I am talking about authentic local products such as Tingatinga paintings, bowls, plates, fabrics and so on. I am also going to visit a leather factory in Moshi. According to my information, the people who work at the factory are mostly people with learning difficulties and people with albinism, who are persecuted in the countryside.”

This is why many people who are affected by albinism choose to live in cities.

Saarikkomäki comes from Järvenpää, Finland. How did he end up in Bahari Beach, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania doing his internship for Art in Tanzania (AIT)?

“A stroke of luck, I suppose. This opportunity came up when I was searching for internship and graduation thesis placements on the Internet. I did not have a specific subject for my graduation thesis when I contacted Art in Tanzania. The manager of AIT, Kari Korhonen, suggested the subject I am now working on. Before I came here I had quite a good idea of what I would be doing here.”

“European critique”

Saarikkomäki feels that doing an internship or working for AIT is mostly quite enjoyable.

“Work gets done slowly but it gets done. I have almost half a year to work on my graduation thesis. I am not worried by the African working style which tends to mean that timetables are elastic.”

Saarikkomäki sees that any critique targeted towards work or leisure time is a bit “European”. It is mostly the little things that bother him. There can be power cuts for a couple of days which mean no Internet access, but if you are going to Africa that is to be expected.

“Things do not work in the same way as they work back in Finland or somewhere else in Europe.”

Bahari Beach, where Saarikkomäki spends most of his time with other interns and volunteers is in his opinion a very quiet and peaceful place. There is a restaurant nearby and everything else a human being could possibly need.

“I am more than comfortable here. AIT’s housekeepers make my bed every day, chefs cook my dinner and I don't mind sharing my room with a couple of other guys. Back home our Government makes us do it for six to twelve months.” Saarikkomäki refers to the military service that is mandatory in Finland.

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