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?
Continue reading “Incoherence: The contradiction of subsidies, aid and philanthropy”
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.
Continue reading “Financing fairer trade”
In Part 1 of this blog post, the focus was on the use of dialogue between investors and corporates to engage on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. A framework for this engagement proposed by Fabrizio Ferraro (IESE) and Daniel Beunza (LSE) was discussed, in addition to the way in which it might possibly be extended to other actors in the investment community, including fund managers.
How can this framework be harnessed and utilised by non-investors? Part 2 of this blog post takes a closer look at aligning the actions of investors and non-investor activists in interacting with corporates. Further, the use of dialogue by groups such as ShareAction, Fairtrade and Oxfam as part of ESG engagement is analysed. Ultimately, further collaboration between end investors, fund managers, civil society organisations (CSOs) and individuals will enable greater awareness and integration of ESG considerations by investors and corporates.
Continue reading “Talk isn’t cheap: Engaging corporates on ESG issues (Part 2)”
On a recent trip to Germany, I was surprised to notice that the Fairtrade mark was missing from a Kit Kat chocolate bar I saw in the supermarket. So I picked up the bar to take a closer look and realised that I unfortunately, I wasn’t mistaken – Kit Kat is not Fairtrade certified in Germany in contrast to the variety sold in the UK. It seems that not all Kit Kats are created equal.
So I decided to take a closer look at how Nestle, the producer of Kit Kat in the UK and Germany (and many other European countries), approaches the matter of using cocoa sourced on fair and sustainable terms. Unfortunately, I’m still a little confused. Consistency and transparency are required in order to provide confidence for consumers.
Continue reading “Spot the difference: Nestle’s confusing cocoa plan”
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.
Continue reading “Lower commodity prices: Why Fairtrade really matters right now”
BBC Panorama raises some salient questions regarding Apple’s production practices in developing countries. There are significant implications for consumers and investors in developed countries. What is the role of the Fairtrade Foundation and Fairphone? Are you indirectly investing in Apple via the UK’s National Employment Savings Trust, the BBC’s pension fund or a myriad of other pension funds?
Continue reading “Another Nike moment for Apple?”