Ethical consumer conference for those working to develop the ethical sector is one of the highlights of the year, a welcome opportunity to get away from the daily grind, reflect and explore ideas with like minded people. This years conference asks us to consider the “how” of collaboration, the many ways that different individuals, enterprises, organisations, governments can work together. Collaboration clearly covers a broad spectrum and one that would require a much longer conference!
Cooperatives – like Ethical Consumer, Suma and fairmondo – have collaboration as part of their DNA. Principle 6 – Cooperation among Cooperatives – is one of seven guiding principles that strive to make cooperatives one of the most ethical business model available. P6 invites all coops to think about collaboration with other coops as part of their normal activity. This is not always easy, especially for small and start up coops who oft times find that keeping the business afloat is challenge enough. However, going the “extra few yards” and working with others is the cooperative difference and one that may be the difference between success and failure.
Collaboration is not alien to non-cooperative sectors. The development of “lean thinking” in business theory over the past 10 -15 years places emphasis on working with people and enterprises in supply chains and processes to improve efficiency and remove waste and reduce costs. Perhaps lean thinking coops ought to consider how value and control are distributed to make sure our supply chains are not only lean but also ethical. We still have a long way to go level the power and wealth gradient between global south commodity producers and the goods that flow through our high streets and websites. Collaborating on these social issues is at the heart of the whole ethical project.
Fairmondo’s vision of our ethical future is one where the participants in our trading networks are on a level playing field and each contributor is equitably rewarded and all can live decent productive lives with freedom, education, health and happiness etc. We are working towards this by building what will become a federation of cooperative marketplaces within different territories. German cooperators have forged a path and created the a fully featured platform; fairmondo.uk has an “alpha site” running and is inviting people to join, test and form an active trading community.
It is currently free to join, there are no listing or transaction fees. We welcome all offers of support and collaboration.