Charlotte di Vita was born 5th September, 1966. She was educated
in Italy & Britain and graduated from Edinburgh University
in 1988, aged 21 years, with an M.A.
After graduation, Charlotte di Vita worked as a voluntary
research, marketing and fundraising consultant for various
environmental, human rights and medical organisations in Britain,
Romania and the USA.
In 1988, she raised US$45,000 for environmental research and
development projects from private sponsorship in the USA.
In 1990, Charlotte di Vita took on the role of co-ordinator
of The First Anglo-Brazilian Conference on the Environment,
held in Brasilia.
The objective of the Conference was for the British and Brazilian
governments to consider ways by which the destruction of Brazilian
virgin forest could be halted, and degraded land returned
to useful purposes. H.R.H. The Prince of Wales was the patron
of the Conference, which was sponsored by the British Overseas
Development Administration (now D.F.I.D) and the private sector.
Directly after the conference, Charlotte di Vita secured
a donation of US$1,250,000 from the British private sector
a Brazilian-based Rainforest Preservation non-profit organisation.
This donation has funded the organisation and management
of the Juruena project, which examines extractivist reserve
techniques, agricultural improvement schemes and land revitalisation
techniques for communities settled on the margins of the rainforest.
The project has created alternatives to logging and agriculturally
degrading land practices in order to halt further encroachment
into virgin forest by Juruena's farmers. Over the following
10 years the project grew to influence over 10million hectares
of rainforest, an area larger than the British Isles.
In 1990, Charlotte di Vita contributed to the Body Shop Romanian
Orphan Appeal by raising sponsorship of pharmaceutical products,
childcare products and construction materials valued at US$22,750
for orphanages and children's hospitals in Romania.
She was a member of Amnesty International's Business Group's
co-ordination committee from its inception in 1990 until 1992.
To support her voluntary work, Charlotte di Vita worked as
an environmental corporate consultant for several British
firms from 1990-1992.
In 1992, Charlotte di Vita initiated the Trade plus Aid concept
designed to raise and diversify local incomes in developing
countries by promoting trade of environmentally-sustainable
handicrafts by marketing these products internationally. The
first project was established in Ghana in 1992.
Between 1993 and 1996, Charlotte di Vita successfully completed
four voluntary assignments for BESO (British Executive Services
Overseas) in Kenya, Thailand & Brazil.
In 1993 Charlotte di Vita was a finalist in the Cosmopolitan
Achievement Awards for her voluntary work.
By 1994, through the sale of handicrafts, Charlotte was able
to fund food
security and community-owned seed-credit schemes to revitalise
devastated farms in the Bawku region. 6472 farmers, 4,062
of which were women, received ground nut and sorghum seed,
allowing them to grow the area's staple diet to feed 25,000
By 1995, Charlotte's trading initiatives had also raised
build and equip three schools and to train 37 teachers
to give 1,100 children in Bawku, with no previous access to
education, the opportunity for schooling.
By 1997, Trade plus AidŽ had contributed to the economic
development of disadvantaged and marginalised communities
in twelve developing countries on three continents: Africa
(Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia); Asia (India, Nepal,
Philippines, Thailand); South America (Peru, Guatemala, Belize,
These communities sought Trade plus Aid's assistance to develop
their skills and resources through design and quality training,
interest-free credit and the marketing of their handicrafts.
These handicrafts included: environmentally-conscious jewellery,
musical instruments, household ornaments, picture frames,
candles and candle sticks, baskets, tableware, traditional
dolls, Christmas tree ornaments, handmade paper products,
rainforest toiletries, skin and hair products made from natural
ingredients. Principal markets were the U.K., Germany and
The difference between Trade plus AidŽ and other traditional
alternative trading organisations or fair trade companies
in the UK has been its focus on assisting and encouraging
communities to become self-sufficient by trading directly
and independently with commercial customers.
In 1997, with the Bawku projects successfully completed,
Charlotte di Vita began to look at projects in Kenya,
and Guatemala, where she could help some of the world's
poorest communities by donating her time, her skills and her
company's profits. Charlotte di Vita led Trade plus AidŽ into
urban slums of South Africa where she funded and devised ingenious
commercial concepts to generate income for organisations working
with abandoned children, child prostitutes, abused and battered
women. She also successfully aided a workshop for the mentally-challenged
in Kenya which was threatened with closure.
In 1997, with the majority of Trade plus Aid's producer groups
successfully trading independently, Charlotte di Vita sought
a new challenge.
In 1997 Charlotte di Vita first travelled to China to help
revive a traditional 17th-century enamelling technique, which
had originally been introduced to the Chinese Imperial Court
through gifts made to the Chinese Emperor Kang Shee. Charlotte's
aim was to create employment for villagers in a region of
Northern China that traditionally had suffered from harsh
poverty and unemployment. Charlotte di Vita traced a master
craftsman who had been trained by court masters of the Forbidden
City and together they designed a range of handcrafted and
hand-painted miniature enamel collectable teapots.
Charlotte di Vita launched the first collection of miniature
enamels in May 1998 into a buoyant UK collectibles market
to instant success. Demand for the product immediately exceeded
supply and created secure employment and fair working conditions
for over 300 Chinese artists and craftspeople, as well as
providing a national platform for Trade plus Aid's ethical
trading partnerships. Prestigious retailers such as Harrods,
Fortnum & Mason, and Saks Fifth Avenue supported this first
fair trade programme in China by promoting the miniature enamels.
In October 1998, Charlotte di Vita was invested as a Member
of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Her Majesty
The Queen at Buckingham Palace. Charlotte di Vita was awarded
this honour for her work with trade plus aid. Charlotte in
turn presented Her Majesty with one of the first of her miniature
In 2001, Charlotte di Vita established a new partnership
to found new manufacturing in China's Southern Economic Zone
to ensure the production of her miniature enamels. By this
time, the enamelling factory in northern China could operate
self-sufficiently and continue to trade independently of
Trade plus AidŽ.
In 2001, the enamels were officially re-launched under the
Charlotte di Vita
Collections brand name, which is now recognised
in the giftware trade as a leading, miniature enamel collectibles
In the same year, Charlotte agreed a distribution
agreement with W. Goebel Pozellanfabrik, one of the giftware
trade's most respected and well-established collectibles companies.
This partnership has positioned the Charlotte di Vita Collections
as a worldwide collectible brand.
In 2002, following a very successful initial year, Goebel
agreed a new licensing deal that guaranteed Charlotte
a minimum licensing fee of US$1.3 million over four years.
Between 1992 and 2005, Charlotte di Vita's trading initiatives
have been able to return US$5,500,000 to producer
groups in 21 countries as payment for their handicrafts,
and she has also committed to raising US$420,200 to fund development projects
in 14 countries.
Charlotte continues to make donations to the Trade plus
charitable trust from funds raised through the sale of the
Charlotte di Vita Collections. In 2002, Charlotte di
Vita visited South-East Asia, China and Africa in order to
research potential development projects for the Trade plus
AidŽ charitable trust.
In 2003, the Trade plus AidŽ charitable trust agreed
new development projects designed to alleviate poverty
in less developed countries in Africa and Asia.
In 2004, two further projects were funded through Charlotte di Vita and Trade plus
AidŽ in Afghanistan and Thailand.
In 2005 Trade plus Aid agreed funding for another project in Mongolia.