“It is impossible to find a man who has everything, but it is possible to find one who enjoys the things he has”- Maasai Proverb
Naisiae was busy updating her ecommerce shopping portal when her mobile phone rang.
It was a customer from New York who wanted to place some new orders. This time about a 100% increase from his previous order!
Naisiae politely accepted the order and then “hung up” the phone.
She turned to her brother and said “quick, we need to bring everyone together”.
Sironka then stood up and left.
It took him under an hour to get to the first village, about 15 kilometres away. He only stopped for about 5 minutes and then went on to the next village, this time only 5 kilometres away.
By the end of the day, Sironka had visited eleven villages that day and had run over 100 kilometres.
You see, Naisiae and Sironka live in Tanzania on the border wit Kenya.
They are Maasai.
They also run a fair trade ecommerce store where they sell arts and crafts to people all over the world – like the customer in New York.
Naisiae needed to get everyone together because the order that was just placed, was going to be a huge challenge, but she also wanted everyone to celebrate with this great news as well. It was a time for joy.
Life is different in this part of the world to what many of us experience.
Many years ago, I had the most gratifying experience to spend time there. It is a land that is known of course for the Maasai, but also The Great Rift Valley, The Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Mount Kilimanjaro and as Anthropologist know, the cradle or the world – where some of the earliest fossils of humanity can be found.
Every day I would walk with the head herdsman, the elder of the village, as he tended his cattle. I struggled under the hot sun, yet it was a real joy to learn from this man.
It is also a very cruel place. Drought, disease and extreme poverty.
Yet amongst this back drop, this sister, brother and community are now sharing their story, their culture to the world through their arts and crafts. In return, their communities are being transformed. Medicine, doctors, schools, teachers, university qualifications, clean water, clean energy – the list goes on.
This is the power of taking action.
This is the power of having dreams and not accepting the circumstances that you may be in today.
This is about you, stepping up, being responsible and making a difference today.
“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process”- Benjamin Harrison
In business we are typically focused on achieving customer satisfaction and we often link customer satisfaction to overall success. However, is this where the focus should be?
In fact, if you Google the key words Customer Satisfaction today, you will get about 95.4 million results. Employee Satisfaction on the other hand, gets you just 10% of that, at 9.6 million results or references.
What about Shareholder Satisfaction? Surprisingly this comes ahead of employees at 20.4 million references, yet Supplier Satisfaction gives you 52.2 million.
Now of course you can extrapolate what you want from that data. It is not real research with any particular hypothesis in mind. However, I wanted to use it to bring up a point that perhaps in business we should continually be looking more broadly across the ecosystem that we are part of and understand how we can have an impact both positively and negatively. With this in mind, we do not have to go too much further from our supply chains and where we source our goods and services.
For me, this is about two important concepts – Fair Trade and Impact Sourcing.
I do not know about you, but I am very uncomfortable to know that modern day slavery is prominent around the world. In addition, there are far too many work places of which may not be classed as modern day slavery, yet clearly provide working conditions for their employees or contractors in which most business owners and managers would find appalling.
Fortunately, though, things are changing and more transparency of the working conditions is being achieved as companies implement social responsibility policies and ethical sourcing practices and even having independent parties audit supply chains. The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” just does not cut it these days for most of us. However, it is a very difficult area to continually to monitor.
That said, it is my view that as customers or clients, we have an obligation to ensure we are sourcing from reputable businesses where the rights of individuals and communities are being respected to the same level that the International Labour Organisation would come to expect.
So what can you do?
Well Education Is The First Step
You need to become aware as to what are indeed some extremely poor and cruel practices are out there, maybe by the businesses that you are currently sourcing your goods and services from, but you are just unaware of.
Next Is To Take Action
Develop you own ethical sourcing policies and work with your suppliers to improve theirs as well. If they are not prepared to change, well you can change them and if you need to, report them to the appropriate authorities.
Third, Become An Advocate Or Champion For Fair Trade And Impact Sourcing
Embrace it within your own business. Assist your employees own awareness. Invite representatives in from other organisations to share their stories as well.
Lastly, if you are like me and have become very passionate about the subject of Fair Trade and Impact Sourcing then start you own business supporting it directly! You see, I cannot over emphasise the amount of pride I have today in launching the Fair Trade Store, an ecommerce store supporting micro business startups around the globe.
Would the World miss it, if I had not launched the Fair Trade Store today? Probably not.
However, is it possible that the Fair Trade Store will make the World a little better for some in it? Most definitely!
The Fair Trade Group Announces The Launch Of Their Fair Trade eCommerce Platform…
The platform will be showcasing artisans from communities around the world and their handicrafts.
Supported by the e-commerce platform Shopify, the whole end-to-end supply chain is semi automated, resulting in minimal overheads. What this means for consumers are fair valued products to purchase and for the artisans, maximised revenues.
The e-commerce store is also supported by a community site – www.fairtradestore.info to provide information and insights on all facets of fair trade.
When the founder of The Fair Trade Group was asked why he established the portal, Dr Ross McKenzie said:
“I wanted to create a way to give back but at the same time draw upon my expertise in global technology and startup businesses – that way I can help more businesses”.
As in the case with all Fair Trade products, the money that is made by the artisans is channelled back to their local communities and families.
So whether you are in New York, Hong Kong, Perth or Paris, you have at your finger tips access to some of the most beautiful hand made gifts while knowing that the proceeds are going towards making the world a better and fair place.
The Fair Trade Group is part of The Business Centre of Excellence Pty Ltd or which also owns The Startup Business and The Startup Business School. All enquires regarding The Fair Trade Group, or the Fair Trade Store should be referred to firstname.lastname@example.org