Dieter Overath founded the non-profit organization TransFair in 1992. The organization supports fair trade with developing counties and awards the Fair Trade seal in Germany.
The organization's founder says Germany is itself still a developing country when it comes to fair trade. On Talking Germany, Dieter Overath talks about his ideas on how to get Germans to abandon their "greed is good" mentality.
Dieter Overath was born in Cologne in 1954. His father was a postman. After leaving school he joined the army for four years. But his anger over NATO’s decision deploy medium-range missiles led him to nail his military ID to the door of Cologne Cathedral. He went to night school and later studied business administration. Even then he knew he did not want a classical career in the business sector. Instead, he went to Latin America. After returning to Germany he founded a vocational school for unemployed youths in Gummersbach where he worked as an instructor for seven years. In his free time he managed theater groups and organized festivals, as well as being active in Amnesty International. Then Overath saw a want ad from an association of small farmers looking for a managing director. At the time he already had two job offers, one of them a well-paying post at the EU commission in Brussels. However he chose to take the job with the shakiest future and joined the consortium of small coffee farmers. That developed into the famous fair trade insignia that is now familiar to around 70 percent of Germans. TransFair neither buys nor sells, but awards its certification. Today fair trade products are on offer in 36,000 stores and 18,000 restaurants in Germany. Vendors pay a small license fee for the right to use the logo. When he goes shopping, Dieter Overath often moves the fair trade products to the front of the supermarket shelves. The avid jogger and fan of 1. FC Köln soccer club lives in Cologne. He has two daughters.