Sustainability and innovation go hand in hand for World Fair Trade Day

World Fair Trade Day was celebrated around the globe on Saturday 11th May. Every year it pays tribute to the contribution fair trade has made to sustainable development by supporting smaller producers, promoting gender equality at work and championing responsible production.

Ensuring fair trading conditions, living wages for farmers and workers in developing countries and benefits for their communities such as funds for building schools and access to healthcare is so important to developing economies.

This year’s theme was innovation, and couldn’t be more relevant for many of you involved in a start up or small business, as the principles are easily transferable. World Fair Trade Day celebrated innovation that empowers women, provides economic opportunities and supports product development, and is proof that sustainability goes hand-in-hand with providing alternative consumer choices that really appeal to their markets.

This is definitely a lesson many in business can draw from: operating in a way that supports fair trade has got to be a “win win”. Apart from the satisfaction of knowing that your purchasing or business decisions are helping to improve lives (which is reward enough), consumers are increasingly favouring fair trade products.

In fact, Fairtrade International’s latest annual report showed that sales of fair trade products reached 8.5 billion euros in 2017, representing an increase of 8 per cent, and generating 178 million euros for farmer and work organisations.

A fact to be proud of is that the UK retains the largest market per retail sales volume in the world.

This is proof that customer-driven, sustainable and ethical business practices are not just desirable but good business sense. Consumers these days are driven by factors including responsible manufacturing, fairness and sustainability, and vote with both their hearts and their purses.

This backs up a point I have made before: that responsible purchasing is the driving force behind changing how the market responds to consumer demand. This in turn leads to more equitable and sustainable business practices, in line with the principles of fair trade.And everyone in the business community, from market leaders down to those just setting up a business, has a part to play by investing in sustainable practices.

In fact, anyone starting a business with a built-in sustainable model will automatically have a USP that is really attractive to consumers in this climate, and can seamlessly contribute to a fairer trading environment.

You can read more about issues relating to the business community and its responsibility to sustainable practices on one of my previous blogs.

Find out more about World Fair Trade Day, and what fair trade means for over 1.66 million workers and farmers in fair trade certified producer organisations, here.

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