James wondered how he could be involved in something that would give back.

James Milligan Student, UBC Continuing Studies,
Sauder School of Business,
UBC Robson Square

In 2005, James Milligan decided he wanted to do work that had a positive impact on the world. Inspired by campaigns like Make Poverty History and Live 8, he started to wonder how he could be involved in something that would give back. “I was in Scotland when the Live 8 concert was happening, and got caught up in it. I was also starting to question my job at the time [in telecommunications], so when I came home, I started looking into fair trade and thought it was a business I could get behind—to make money in a socially just way.”

Though he wasn’t able to leave his job right away, he worked to obtain a UBC Certificate in Project Management and Award of Achievement in Sustainability Management through UBC Continuing Studies, as well as the Certificate in Strategic Leadership through Executive Education at UBC Sauder School of Business as he contemplated his work options. “I started looking for fair trade products to represent,” Milligan says. “I came across sports balls and thought that was a cool idea. I also kept taking more courses, and that drove me to go get my MBA.”

Then, last spring, Milligan’s company laid off 200 people, including him. “I thought ‘do I go for it?’ It was now or never.” So, two weeks after his last day of work, Milligan found himself at a booth selling fair trade sports balls at the EPIC Sustainable Living Expo at the Vancouver Convention Centre. “Fair trade respects people at the front end,” Milligan says. “They’re paid a fair wage and it helps lift them out of poverty.”

His company, Social Conscience, which sells soccer balls, volleyballs, beach volleyballs, MINI soccer balls and basketballs, has since partnered with OA Projects, a Vancouver-based organization that uses soccer to help build stronger communities for war-affected youth in Africa. “I wanted to get more involved in the community,” Milligan says, “and this was a perfect fit. There’s so much work I want to do, and I love what I’m doing. This business has the potential to make a difference.”

Fair trade at UBC
UBC is committed to supporting fair trade products, including coffee, tea, chocolate and tropical fruit for sale on its campuses. This year, it was named Canada’s first Fair Trade Campus by Fairtrade Canada.

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