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Business models that put people and planet first

To tackle inequality, end poverty and save our planet, Fair Trade Enterprises must spread far and wide.

A new economy is emerging, one populated by enterprises born to put people and planet first. These businesses are a stark contrast to today’s mainstream businesses, who largely remain trapped in a model of profit-primacy. Based on new research, this report uncovers insights from one of the most global and deep-rooted communities of mission-led enterprises: Fair Trade Enterprises. Key insights about Fair Trade Enterprises include:

• 92 per cent reinvest all profits in their social mission;
• 52 per cent are led by women;
• 4 times less likely to go bankrupt; and
• 85 per cent report actively sacrificing financial goals to pursue social or environmental goals, while retaining commercial viability.

The time has come for governments, investors and all companies to support such enterprise models to spread them far and wide.

Prof. Bob Doherty (University of York), Prof. Helen Haugh (Cambridge University), Dr. Simon Croft (Stockholm Environment Institute), Dr. Erinch Sahan (WFTO) and Mr. Tom Wills (Traidcraft Exchange).

Five (5) ways
Fair Trade Enterprises
do things differently

Pioneering new business models to put people
and planet first


Fighting inequality

Fair Trade Enterprises exist to create opportunities for economically marginalised people and communities. By using their profits to benefit them and by holistically practicing Fair Trade, they fight inequality every day.


Women leading the change

Women make up 52% of CEOs, 54% of senior managers and 51% of boards in Fair Trade Enterprises. Whereas in mainstream business, the figures are 8%, 24% and 12% respectively.  


Saving our planet

Fair Trade Enterprises, who knowingly prioritise social or environmental goals over the desire to accrue greater profits, have more flexibility to develop investments that minimise environmental impact.


Going places other businesses won’t

As they prioritise social goals over profits, Fair Trade Enterprises invest in and support communities that mainstream businesses don’t and go places other businesses won’t.


Commercial resilience

Fair Trade Enterprises retain a stable turnover over many years. Their pursuit of social and environmental goals does not undermine their ability to operate in a competitive market.

92% of Fair Trade Enterprises
reinvest all profits in their social mission

Case studies

Explore selected examples of the businesses
that make a difference

From gender equality to businesses designed to live in harmony with their environmet, these case studies are proof that an alternative to mainstream business exists. 


The 11 strong board is made-up of four males and seven females. ACP employs 120 people directly,
95 per cent of whom are women


Ecoffins leads the way for eco-friendly coffins through innovation in material-use. Their products are 100 per cent natural and biodegradable


All profits are reinvested in the business, invested into projects or distributed among producers and staff


Mahaguthi reinvest 100% of their profit into supporting their producers and communities, building capacity, new product development


An enterprise that exists to serve these producers, prioritising this mission over any other consideration, with all profits reinvested to benefit, or redistributed to these producers


The Board of Directors is 80 per cent female and the women workers are paid 40% more than the minimum wage

Fair Trade Enterprises are
four (4) times less
likely to go bankrupt


Fair Trade Enterprises are recognised
by thought-leaders across the world

52% of Fair Trade Enterprises are led by women

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With trade recommendations to businesses,
policy-makers and investors

Explore all case studies and see how society can embrace sustainable business. 


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World Fair Trade Organization
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