Incoherence: The contradiction of subsidies, aid and philanthropy

Incoherence

It’s a natural human trait to focus on celebrating the good while giving less thought to the harmful. Reconciling contradictory behaviours can be difficult, especially when good intentions are challenged by uncomfortable questions about the problems we’re trying to solve.

Two areas where this is especially true relate to foreign aid and philanthropy. The provision of both undoubtedly improve lives and lift many out of poverty. Many problems addressed by these forms of giving are highly complex and difficult to solve. Generosity is vital to developing lasting solutions.

But is it a case of giving with one hand while taking more with the other? Whether it’s through agricultural subsidies, tax regimes that favour multinationals or profiting from low wage workers, it’s useful to reflect on a simple question:

Is it better for me to give more, or take less?

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Incoherence: The contradiction of subsidies, aid and philanthropy

Financing fairer trade

Financing Fairer Trade

Getting access to finance is difficult for small entrepreneurs in developing countries. Without reliable access to the financial system, many developing country producers are struggling to participate in global trade.

In this blog post*, I will take a closer look at attempts to provide easier access to finance for fair trade producers. Organisations such as Shared Interest and Triodos Bank offer schemes which aim to provide direct loans to smaller producers. Separately, other potential innovations involving fair trade intermediated bonds or fair trade certification for futures contracts is also discussed.

Innovation in trade finance shouldn’t only be about providing easier access to capital for producers. Rather it is important to consider how financial markets can be adapted to be more inclusive of smaller entrepreneurs in developing countries.

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Financing fairer trade

Lower commodity prices: Why Fairtrade really matters right now

Fairtrade

Much of the recent attention on falling commodity prices has focused on the impact of lower energy prices. However, crude oil and its refined products are not the only commodities to have seen recent price declines. Many agricultural products and precious metals – including those sold under Fairtrade certification – have experienced downward price pressure coupled with high volatility. Lower prices mean lower incomes for farmers and artisanal miners, creating a greater role for the Fairtrade premium.

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Lower commodity prices: Why Fairtrade really matters right now