Wednesday, July 29, 2009

fair trade tobacco?

a few years ago, I was asked if I knew of anywhere a colleague might be able to procure fair trade tobacco from - and it got me thinking: why not?

1) Fair Trade producers are inevitably organised as marketing or agricultural co-ops, and there's at least one tobacco growers co-op (in Tanzania - scroll down to the bottom of this linked page to find their contact details)

2) There seem to be lots of 'lifestyle' goods gaining the fair-trade label beyond food - fashion clothing, footballs...

3) An ethical dilemma? Well, to my knowledge the Fair Trade foundation who administers the mark have no stated restrictions as to the types of goods that they can't assure on the basis of ethics

So why not fair trade tobacco?
For the sake of all those smokers who want to be more ethical, let’s help them at least change the impact they have on poverty through the 'lifestyle choices' they've made (just like we do for those people who can't quite kick their love of chocolate or alcohol in the form of wine...)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is the CIC regulator trying to tell us something?

At a recent regional Social Enterprise event, I 'caught up' with the CIC regulatory team (given my 'history' with them, and the fact that they have a file on me, only feel its fair to give them a chance to either slap me or kiss me in person...); anyways, after seeing their stand, I'm wondering if the CIC regulator might be trying to tell us all something - the freebies on offer were a CIC stress ball and a CIC air freshener...

Friday, July 3, 2009

is social enterprise being forced to become charitable?

In 2006, there was an overhaul to charity legislation, which included extending those things that are deemed to be 'charitable' in law, and so organisations created to pursue them are now legally required to gain charitable status (and all that comes with it with regard to governance, restrictions on trading, etc)...

An example of this is in respect of the charitable purpose of preventing or relieving poverty (surely something that all social enterprises aspire to) and how it can be acheived through Fair Trade; it caught my eye and gives me pause for concern:

"To prevent or relieve poverty by awarding a 'fair trade mark' (and remember that there are now 'social enterprise marks') to products, the sale of which relieves the poverty of producers by ensuring they receive at least a fair price for their goods and advising such producers of the best ways in which to engage in the trading process."

But Fair Trade is about trading not charity - so the lines between charity and enterprise are becomming even more blurred with what some would see as being quite a fundamental social enterprise activity now apparently being charitable in purpose, and so any social enterprise created to purse fair trade (or similarly 'marked') activities now being legally required to adopt chaitable status, even if they felt another form would suit them better...

Are we then now entering an age where as social enterprises we are being forced to change our purposes in order to ensure we can adopt the legal form that best meets our needs and circumstances?
Is the state perhaps becomming too prescriptive in allowing us the market freedoms we need in order to fully realise our potential?