Conor Woodman’s 4-part series documenting his trading adventures around the globe is educational and heart-warming.
Conor gives away his City of London financial services job and hits upon the novel idea of trading face-to-face with people around the world. He sets off on a trip spanning three continents. His aim is to buy low, transport the goods himself, and sell high at the next destination.
To maximise the contrast with his former job, most of the countries he chooses to visit belong to the global South which represents a minority of global trade, GDP-wise. The 25 least developed nations collectively account for 1% of global GDP.
The doco presents the ups and the downs of his escapades, and they are by no means all successful for him. Selling particularly proves to be harder than he anticipates. Full of confidence in his strategy, Conor deals open-handedly with the sellers he meets. Sometimes that favour is not reciprocated. Other times he founders because of lack of cultural nous (for which he can hardly be blamed!) Then other times it’s just plain bad luck.
What I really enjoyed about the series is that it puts a human face on globalisation and the movement of commodities. Our Kenyan coffee beans didn’t magically arise from the Kenyan soil and send themselves our way, they were planted and tilled by real life Kenyan farmers who are either working at it right now, as you are reading this, or will be tomorrow.
Here is the first ten minutes of Episode 1:
The full series runs for about 200 minutes.
- You can buy Around the World in 80 Trades on DVD from the BBC