Here at Kindred Global Mentorship, being a social good endeavor, we are quite enthusiastic about and supportive of fair trade businesses. This will become especially evident in our upcoming crowdfunding campaign, in which perks for donations include some cool fair trade items like organic cotton pajamas and jewellery provided by Moonbird Designs and Kaleidoscope Global.
You may have noticed a little ‘fair trade’ label on your coffee, tea or chocolate. For many, this is naught but a reassuring sign that those who produced your morning brew/afternoon treat were paid fairly for their efforts. Beyond this, many folks may not understand what exactly is the movement that is ‘fair trade.’
I thought it would be useful to look at the 10 principles of fairtrade, as published on the World Fair Trade Association website.
Moreover, I thought it would be useful to spell out what this means to us at Kindred, and how we fit into it all given our for-profit corporate structure with an in-built charitable component. How we run the business at Kindred really does relate to fair trade principles which, though not always relevant in the ‘fairtrade’ context, nonetheless has a bearing on our values and operations.
“Poverty reduction through trade forms a key part of the organization’s aims. The organization supports marginalized small producers, whether these are independent family businesses, or grouped in associations or co-operatives. It seeks to enable them to move from income insecurity and poverty to economic self-sufficiency and ownership. The organization has a plan of action to carry this out.”
Kindred is committed to supporting organisations like Kiva, which work directly in this space. This is in keeping with the premise of the Kindred platform, which is to help grow businesses, globally.
Principle Two: Transparency and Accountability
“The organization is transparent in its management and commercial relations. It is accountable to all its stakeholders and respects the sensitivity and confidentiality of commercial information supplied. The organization finds appropriate, participatory ways to involve employees, members and producers in its decision-making processes. It ensures that relevant information is provided to all its trading partners. The communication channels are good and open at all levels of the supply chain.”
Kindred strives for open and positive communication with our registered users and the public. Most tangibly, this is visible in our transparent pricing. There are no secrets and hidden costs. Mentors state clearly what their prices are for mentorship, and what services you receive for each price. This is in contrast to some coaching programs in which prices are not disclosed until the end of a lengthy interview or assessment process, and in which the prices are variable to you as a business owner depending on how your business has been assessed. At Kindred the only price variation is in how the mentors themselves set their price points, which is reflective of their expertise.
Principle Three: Fair Trading Practices
“The organization trades with concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers and does not maximize profit at their expense. It is responsible and professional in meeting its commitments in a timely manner. Suppliers respect contracts and deliver products on time and to the desired quality and specifications.”
Kindred does not sell products per se, but supports fair trade businesses both through partnerships and promotion, and also through our charitable commitments. Further, we follow the practices in the way we operate as demonstrated in this post.
Principle Four: Payment of a Fair Price
“A fair price is one that has been mutually agreed by all through dialogue and participation, which provides fair pay to the producers and can also be sustained by the market. Where Fair Trade pricing structures exist, these are used as a minimum. Fair pay means provision of socially acceptable remuneration (in the local context) considered by producers themselves to be fair and which takes into account the principle of equal pay for equal work by women and men. Fair Trade marketing and importing organizations support capacity building as required to producers, to enable them to set a fair price.”
Whilst this issue, as described above, is less relevant to Kindred’s business model, given that we do not sell products, it nonetheless touches on an important value, one of fair compensation for mentoring services. Experts are valued for their contribution to mentoring through payment. Equally important, we do not believe that those seeking business guidance should be pressured into long-term, expensive arrangements if they do not need them, hence we provide a pricing structure that suit a variety of offerings – and crucially, give the mentee choice as to what they invest. Kindred employees and partners are paid a fair price.
Principle Five: Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
“The organization adheres to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national / local law on the employment of children. The organization ensures that there is no forced labor in its workforce and / or members or homeworkers.“
Kindred does not engage in the employment of children or force people into its workforce. Nor does Kindred engage with suppliers or other businesses that do.
“The organization does not discriminate in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/Aids status or age.”
Kindred values and respects diversity and does not discriminate in its hiring, selection, remuneration, training, promotion, and termination processes.
Image Credit: US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Principle Seven: Ensuring Good Working Conditions
“The organization provides a safe and healthy working environment for employees and / or members. It complies, at a minimum, with national and local laws and ILO conventions on health and safety.”
Kindred respects the guidelines and laws around safe and good working conditions.
Principle Eight: Providing Capacity Building
“The organization seeks to increase positive developmental impacts for small, marginalized producers through Fair Trade.”
This falls under Kiva’s commitment, and reflects our values through our charitable component.
Principle Nine: Promoting Fair Trade
“The organization raises awareness of the aim of Fair Trade and of the need for greater justice in world trade through Fair Trade.”
Kindred promotes fair trade by promoting fair trade businesses, as well as through its support for organisations like Kiva.
Principle Ten: Respect for the Environment
“Organizations which produce Fair Trade products maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible. They use production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. They seek to minimize the impact of their waste stream on the environment. Fair Trade agricultural commodity producers minimize their environmental impacts, by using organic or low pesticide use production methods wherever possible.”
Kindred respects the fragility of the natural environment and employs systems and processes that minimises impact upon it. This includes the way we communicate, travel, consume, and dispose. Most of the Kindred team work remote from each other, and employ technology as a way of communicating rather than travelling by plane, car, and train on a regular basis.
The fair trade businesses we partner with also adhere to this principle.