Many small enterprises have been established with the primary aim of promoting employment and income in the community. In recent years they have benefited from innovative strategies by manufacturers and trading organizations working with them. Changing consumer behaviour in the 1990s is providing a more favourable marketing environment. However, products will only sell if they meet a need in the market and if they are not sub-standard. This article describes various strategies that have been employed by Fair Trading Organizations and by Fair Trade Sealing initiatives to bring secure employment to producers and to satisfy the 'caring consumer'.
Building financially sustainable incentives for environmental conservation into small enterprise development
The countries facing the largest challenges of unemployment, population growth and poverty are also those that contain the most important biological diversity. Many economic growth policies threaten the environment, through exploitation of natural resources and large industrial development that earns foreign exchange. These in turn increase poverty, as deforestation reduces soil quality, over-harvesting the land and sea reduces food security and people lose access to traditional resources. The challenge is to identify approaches to development that conserve the environment. Recent initiatives demonstrate that incentives can be created for small enterprises to invest in conservation in a financially sustainable way.
Agriculture remains the best opportunity to move out of poverty for an estimated 1.5 to 2 billion people worldwide who live in smallholder households. Many of them derive at least part of their livelihood from producing crops that enter commodity supply chains. About 90 per cent of smallholders engaged in supply chains operate in local and national markets; the remaining 10 per cent produce crops destined for export markets. The value created for smallholders from their engagement in those supply chains depends on many factors. This paper is intended to guide practitioners in understanding and evaluating some of the most important ones. It draws from 10 years’ experience of collaboration with companies to integrate smallholder commodity producers into mostly export agricultural supply chains. When successful, such integration increases their opportunities for making decisions on their production unit and in their households that affect their progress as producers and families. It argues that the extent of benefits to households and communities from smallholder inclusion in agribusiness supply chains depends on how well it reflects economic priorities, social structures, and gender dynamics in the producing communities and on how appropriately planned is the targeting of smallholders and their capacity building. The paper outlines enablers, inhibitors, and trade-offs when commodity companies interact with smallholders and SMEs.