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).
Pioneering new business models to put people
and planet first
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
“Our research has investigated a global community of enterprises who provide a viable, inspiring alternative to 'the maximising profit for shareholders' approach that has led to negative human and planetary consequences. These are hybrid enterprises who are members of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) trade but with a social and environmental purpose, working with indigenous communities to develop innovative products. They reinvest their profits back into their social mission, display unique governance arrangements with artisans and farmers on their boards, plus over 50 per cent of them are led by female entrepreneurs.”
“The new economy is already here. Fair Trade Enterprises are joining forces with the broader social enterprise movement and others to demonstrate that business can truly put people and planet first. We all need to embrace this revolution in business.”
"Fair Trade Enterprises are not just a niche; they are a laboratory for what all business should become. In a world of scarce resources and growing inequalities, the corporate world must reinvent itself."
"For over a century cooperatives and other Social and Solidarity Economy enterprises have been serving their members and communities for improved livelihoods and services. Fair Trade Enterprises are good examples of such mission-led businesses prioritizing social and environmental goals along with economic ones."
“The Cooperative Movement and Fair Trade are natural partners, promoting and advocating for alternative business models centered around people and values instead of profit maximization - this gives greater power and value to producers and consumers all over the world.”
"This report is a timely contribution to our search for innovative strategies to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Fair trade enterprises, particularly those that have gone through the WFTO verification process, represent a mature segment of social enterprises – new models of business that are social mission driven and have a distributive enterprise philosophy. This means that they are key in any strategy to resolve systemic poverty and widening inequality. Rather than accumulating wealth for stockholders, Fair Trade and other social enterprises distribute the wealth they create to uplift the lives of the poor and marginalized as stakeholders in equitable and sustainable development."
“Fair Trade enterprises are one of a number of exciting alternatives to business as usual. Placed together, these alternative models that prioritize people and the planet represent a new business ecosystem fit for the purpose of supporting a wellbeing economy.”
"Fair Trade Enterprises are demonstrating that an alternative business model is economically viable and ecologically sustainable - another world is possible. This is a message that now urgently needs to be heard and acted on by policy-makers, investors and business leaders."
"Putting fairness at the heart of the demographic, digital and green transitions is the challenge of our times. Fair trade based on decent social and labour standards at global level is key to sustainable development. New business models aiming at generating positive social impact will play a key role in this. The example of Fair Trade Enterprises shows that new thinking in business and social responsibility can support more resilient and inclusive communities, by creating fair jobs and promoting gender equality, and altogether contribute to socially and environmentally sustainable economies and societies."
"With their business model based on re-distributing wealth back to communities, prioritizing the social and environmental needs, and organizing bottom-up, Fair Trade Enterprises are the inspirational organizational models that demonstrate an alternative, fair and just economy is already possible."
"We can all make a change, as a consumer, as a citizen, as a politician and as a business leader. For my organization Oxfam-Magasins du monde, doing business and taking into account human rights and the planet is the norm. Mission-led enterprises such as Fair Trade Organizations are structured to tackle in an integrated way both the inequality and ecological issues, the main struggles of our times."