I just pressed SEND to launch Motif’s application for World Fair Trade Federation Guaranteed Member Status – and WOW!!! – does that feel good! International third-party accreditation for eco-friendly, green companies; sustainable, circular businesses and ethically, social enterprises is vital today to establish our transparency as responsible employers and traders – AT LAST we’re on our way!

This is Step 1 – but there was a lot to get in order before hitting ‘send’ just now! And that’s why I’m documenting this journey. Now artisan groups and others can peek behind the scenes of an application for Fair Trade Accreditation. There are a growing number of ‘seals’ out there to validate our ethically sourced goods and/or socially responsible services, so why did Motif choose the World Fair Trade Organisation?

Why WFTO?

Some socially responsible businesses now create their own monitoring systems. Many do it well and can maintain both transparency and high standards. Others are not so reliable. At Motif our fair trade customer relationships are based on years of building trust. And although that word-of-mouth counts A LOT, to reach more new customers we need to be tested and proved worthy of that trust.

Your reasons for accreditation may be different to mine. The key is to research well the following points:

  • Who are the customers that need assurance of your fair trade or organic or sustainable claims and where are they based?
  • Research which accreditation marks are best recognised in those areas.
  • Find which mark is the right fit for your organisation and/or products both financially and in what the accreditation service offers.

fair_trade_labels

Answering these questions leads me to WFTO, but there are historical reasons too. The original International Federation of Alternative Trade (IFAT) that became the WFTO, was gathering steam in the UK at just the time I was moving to Bangladesh in 1989. Over the years camaraderie with leaders and members has been inspiring. We’ve had a few nudges to start the accreditation process but honestly, back then it was just too expensive!

Motif is still a relatively small business, however the good news is that as WFTO has evolved, the costs are now more affordable – Good News!

What Next?

Any verification process asks lots of questions and needs loads of proof that what you say you do is truly what you do. Motif was set up in 1998 and so we have records going back a long way! Some things however we’ve been slack on and this application process has highlighted them – that’s humbling to say the least!

But don’t let that put you off! This is the reason we head into this process in the first place right? For greater transparency and accountability? For example, we’ve been very poor at maintaining annual reports. But we’ve also seen that more than double the artisans we thought benefit from the fair trade practises Motif has championed all these years – that makes us very happy!

Gathering the info is a team effort. So be sure everyone is on board, because going forward is a team sport too.

Out There!

Having landed at the WFTO international office, our application is tracked and sent to WFTO-Asia, the regional office. This is when the ‘interrogation’ begins. Referees are contacted, a peer review takes place from within Bangladesh and an external consultant will come to perform a preliminary audit. It all takes time so whenever there’s action you’ll hear about it here!

Jackie_CorlettThe World Fair Trade Organisation has great information on its site. But whether you’re curious or keen about the process, if I can be of help in any way just let me know! Here’s towards a fair trade future for us all … Happy Dancing!

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