Innovative NGOs, start-ups, social enterprises, and SMEs will be gathering on June 23 at the Amway Experience Center to showcase their projects, services, and products for the audience to engage with. In preparation for the upcoming CSR Innovation Fair, AmCham Shanghai is conducting a series of four interviews to offer a preview of the organizations.
This week we spoke with Yun Ming Wai, founder of a trading company called Fair Globe, to learn more about her innovative idea and what difficulties come with fair trade in China. Fair Globe is a social enterprise that is focused on fighting world poverty through its fair trade movement and encourages responsible consumerism in China. Fair Globe makes fair trade products accessible to consumers in China including chocolates, tea, coffee, and handicrafts, teaching buyers the importance and benefits of making ethical purchases. The social enterprise also organizes campaign activities such as mini-fairs, guidebooks for fair trade shopping, talks and sharing events to cultivate the expansion of the fair trade market in China.
Insight: What goods are considered fair trade goods?
Ming: All our products are sourced from farms certified as fair trade, either via Fairtrade International or the World Fair Trade Organization.
Insight: How did the idea of Fair Globe China start?
Ming: Before the idea of Fair Globe was developed, with the help of my team, I opened a small café in Suzhou called The Green Room with the idea of providing quality coffee to the public. Soon after opening we got in contact with a provider that sells organic ingredients that are certified as fair trade products, and with their help, we started to sell organic coffee beans and tea at my café. I believe that people should have access to fair trade products, such as the fair trade certified organic coffee beans, outside of just the café thus, we started a trading company now known as Fair Globe. Fair Globe began to distribute fair trade products online that are sourced from farms certified as fair trade by either Fairtrade International or the World Fair Trade Organization.
Insight: How do you contribute to alleviating poverty? Do you donate to a specific charity or do part of your sales go back to the producers?
Ming: Fair Trade is a movement about ‘Trade not Aid’ and in the fair trade system; farmers are guaranteed to receive their fair pay. I believe fair trade is in principle very different from charity, or even opposite. We believe to help farmers is to pay them fairly without exploitation. It is about justice and trading practice. Because Fair Globe believes the rapid domestic market on the quality of imported goods in China could boost global sales on fair-trade products, we want to do our part as to alleviate world poverty and build a company that gives back.
Insight: What is the biggest challenge you find in your line of work with Fair Globe China?
Ming: There are a lot of challenges. If I am allowed to choose only one, I would say cash flow. As the market development on ethical consumption is slow, distribution of capital gains are low and many buyers pay late while we remain responsible to pay the fair trade farmers upfront. As a small start up, it can become a great burden.
Insight: How can China implement more fair trade goods?
Ming: Business to business development could be the key. Such as active participation in CSR initiatives that focus on the catering and hospitality industry could greatly increase the consumption of fair trade products. There are 100 five stars hotels in China and their annual expense on food and beverage is more than 2 million USD. If they all got their sources from certified fair trade farms then the annual consumption could reach 200billion USD. This means there could be an extra social premium of 3 million USD for poor farmers on top of their fairly paid income. It could help 40 thousands farmers come out from poverty. Ideally, all multinational corporations would use only fair trade tea and coffee in their pantries and use such products as their corporate gift sets. The impacts would become tremendous. Therefore initiating more business to business commitment on responsible procurement is very important.”
If you wish to learn more about this organization and twenty others at the CSR Innovation Fair on June 23rd RSVP directly on our website.