The pandemic and its economic shocks have shaken the world, and our community of Fair Trade Enterprises are feeling the pain. Our challenge is enormous and unprecedented as trade and production halts and costs mount. In response, WFTO has mobilised all resources and refocused all work to support members during this crisis. We adapt and listen each day, but overall members told us four things:
• This is a crisis like no other, the pain is large and growing, and WFTO must adapt
• Promoting webshops should be our main priority (72% said it should be or 1st or 2nd priority)
• Supply-chains are disrupted, so we need creative ways to generate income and support to members
• Non-Fair Trade buyers are critical, we must find ways to reach them to generate new business
In response, we are doing the following:
1) New commercial buyers – working closely with leading networks in fair fashion and the homewares we are profiling WFTO members and increasing searches of WFTO members. We are promoting members to over 20,000 buyers this month, including to Common Objective’s network of fashion leaders, and an upcoming campaign to attract the support of other key industry players (more soon!). In one week of our new campaign, we have doubled the number of people searching for WFTO member products on wfto.com.
2) #StayHomeLiveFair campaign – built with the input of WFTO regional branches, campaigning networks, and social media experts (see wfto.com/stayhomelivefair). The campaign is focused on reaching beyond the Fair Trade community to garner support, and has led to engagement increasing 400%.
3) Promoting webshops – when we heard from members to prioritise this, we built a webshop search (wfto.com/webshops) It grew rapidly and now has over 100 WFTO webshops listed! This is now being promoted by networks outside our movement. Innovations from members include a pre-order option to get cash-flow while trade and supply-chains are halted.
4) Promoting member crowdfunding – our list of members seeking direct support from the public is growing, so we built the wfto.com/supportFairTrade webpage and we are promoting this through our #StayHomeLiveFair campaign. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your link to your crowdfunding or donation initiative to be included.
5) Engaging donors and social finance institutions – we are talking to a range of donors to garner support to WFTO and fund activities to support our members. Competition for donor funds is high and their endowments have been hit, but we are working hard. We are also promoting our members to social finance institutions, both those who can finance working capital and those who invest in equity. Update on this will be shared with members soon.
6) Gathering experts to provide insights to members – we are currently trying to set up webinars on fundraising, webshops, accessing finance and other immediate concerns.
There are also regional initiatives, especially in Asia, where a growing number of members are working together and with WFTO Asia to produce face masks.
We have re-steered the WFTO to focus on the most effective ways to support our members across 76 countries. We re-evaluate our position daily and continue to adapt. We wish you success in navigating one of the largest challenges our movement has ever faced.