By Josephine Living, On Purpose Associate at Volans
On Friday 1 November, Volans hosted another breakfast in the Breakthrough series. These are targeted at bringing together groups of people around a common theme, to engage in open and challenging discussions with regard to how business models and thought leadership can be more “Breakthrough“.
The latest breakfast was hosted at the Impact Hub in Kings Cross in partnership with Fair Trade USA. Their founder, Paul Rice, opened the session with an engaging and inspiring talk about his experience in the industry and his innovation plans for the future, to which participants representing various sectors constructively debated and exchanged ideas. There were opportunities afterwards for a round-table, networking and to catch up with old friends and colleagues over a tea or coffee (all Fair Trade of course!).
Thanks to everyone who attended for their open and interesting dialogue. Fair Trade USA welcomes any comments, discussion or ideas around the content and Volans looks forward to hosting the next Breakthrough Breakfast in 2014!
In the meantime, here are our top 10 takeaways from the event.
Top Ten Takeaways
- Inclusion. In order to be scalable from both a mission and market perspective, Fair Trade must include and support all kinds of farmers and workers, not just cooperatives.
- Impact. We must go much deeper in how we think about and measure the impact of the Fair Trade model. We need indicators on health, education, environmental sustainability, empowerment and other Fair Trade outcomes in order to demonstrate quantifiable results.
- Technology. In the near future, technology will transform the way we engage and empower both producers and consumers. It will also transform the certification industry and enable dramatically greater scale.
- Producer Support. When it comes to smallholders, we need to evolve from a protectionist mentality to an emphasis on investing in producer competitiveness. Producers need access to markets, capital, and management & organisational capabilities to be competitive and successful.
- Communication. We now have the communication platforms to talk directly with farmers and workers, not just to their organizations. This will transform the way we gather and deliver information, making supply chains even more transparent, all the way back to the household level.
- Wages. Low wages continue to be a challenge throughout the developing world. 2bn people live on <$2/day. Fair Trade must demonstrate impact on household income as well as community investment.
- Cooperation. Cooperation between certification efforts is needed to streamline audit process and avoid duplicative costs. Narrow sectarian approach is counter-productive. Huge overlap of the various standards creates opportunity for greater collaboration, efficiency and scale.
- Marketing. Branding and consumer engagement are key to the success of the Fair Trade movement. Use technology and social media to activate consumers on a much larger scale.
- Expansion. The market is demanding Fair Trade in lots of product categories, including shoes, apparel, seafood, furniture, and even agricultural products grown in North America. Fair Trade should respond flexibly to the mission and market demand for these new products and geographies.
- Innovation. The Fair Trade movement must challenge its own assumptions, its core strategies and programs, its most cherished beliefs – and then have the courage to innovate, change and evolve in order to be more relevant and have more impact for more people around the world.