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You have probably heard of Fair Trade, an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries to create better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The idea is that a certification advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards. Fair trade focuses, in particular, on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee,cocoa,sugar,tea, bananas, and other goods. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.

However, Fair Trade is much more than just trading: it proves that greater justice in world trade is possible. It highlights the need for change in the rules and practice of conventional trade and shows how a successful business can also put people first: there is a number of set-in-stone principles that Fair Trade evolves around, such as creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers, transparency and accountability, fair trading practices, payment of a fair price, ensuring no child labor and forced labor, amongst others.In the best case, fair trade prevents the exploitation of the poor, who typically produce most of the stuff in the developing world.

Did you know that Fair Trade principles are also applied to the area of tourism?

The goal of our SAP Social Sabbatical team in Pretoria is to support an organization which does exactly that: Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable tourism development through awareness raising, research and advocacy, and by facilitating the world’s first tourism Fair Trade certification program through an alliance of members, the Sustainable Tourism Certification Alliance South Africa (STCAA).

So where does FTTSA need most help? First, their current website is not attracting new members due to unclear navigation, complicated structure, and outdated content. Our team was charged to come up with a proposal to simplify the site, and to make it more attractive for all categories of members. Furthermore, we wanted to propose measures to drive traffic for the new revamped website.

A second, much more complex issue our team is focusing on is the ‘impact analysis’ – to which degree does a certification support the principles of Fair Trade, in a measurable way? How does certification impact number of employees, improve environmental impact of operations, become more sustainable, to name just a few areas? The biggest problem around this topic – and a problem which could not be resolved in FTTSA’s 10 - year history) is related to data sources, a feasible aggregation of data, and to relate any changes to the certification process.

Part 2 of this blog will discuss our teams initial approach, Part 3 final conclusions.

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