Manifesto by World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)

In a world where traditional business models are centre stage, the question of how to reach a sustainable economy without changing this ‘for given’ fact has emerged as a crucial conversation. If we want to achieve the 2030 Agenda,  it is crucial to reconsider the very fabric of these models, as they are one of the main causes of the environmental and social crises we are facing in the world. As we grapple with issues of sustainability, social impact, and environmental considerations, designing better business models becomes a crucial endeavour for a future-proof society.

We all know that mainstream businesses focus mainly on making as much money as possible in the most time-efficient way. People, planet, health, quality and positive impact on society – all come second in the agenda of profit-maximising businesses, as their one and only goal is simple: no matter what social and environmental cost, financial gains (in the hands of a small group of shareholders) will always be above all else. Rooted in their willful ignorance that there will always be someone to bear the cost for their malpractices, and that they are contributing to the destruction of our planet, extreme poverty and inequality, such businesses are embedded in the foundation of our society, feeding into a culture of entrepreneurship solely centred around money above all else.

However, profit-centric approaches are not the only option to be economically successful and resilient in our system. While financial success is still an objective for such businesses, an increasing number of enterprises are challenging this conventional model, and proving that profitability can coexist with a commitment to sustainable practices, encompassing both people and the planet. This emerging shift encompasses a triple bottom line — considering people, planet, and profit — as three interdependent aspects that should be simultaneously considered while designing a business model. At the core of their actions stands the belief that if one of these three elements is not included while designing the business, then such a business model can’t be considered “sustainable” in the long term and should not exist.

For this reason, starting on the 1st of February 2024, WFTO is launching a campaign calling for a #BusinessRevolution, to amplify the voices of Fair Trade Enterprises and call for a fundamental change in the way businesses are designed. We believe that our economy can be transformed and that traditional approaches are not sustainable, neither for the people nor for the planet. As WFTO we know plenty of examples of successful businesses that are designed for both positive impact, and we believe that good entrepreneurship can be a key driver of that needed change we are calling for when we are marching in our climate protests, when fighting to close the pay gap, when calling out governments to shape an environmentally and socially sustainable future for all. Fair Trade Entrepreneurs are transforming important words into real actions on the ground.

That’s why we as WFTO are launching our campaign #BusinessRevolution: we don’t want to see only sustainable products made by unsustainable businesses, but we aim for sustainable business models that are truly designed for positive impact, prioritising local communities, social responsibility, supplier relationships, and environmental protection — areas often overlooked by large corporations. We are inviting everyone to join, from organisations, enterprises, advocates, citizens and policymakers. We want Fair Trade to be the norm but trade is everywhere, impacting our everyday lives, starting on a smaller scale from the things we consume, to the broader picture of who is currently populating our economic landscape. System change from the bottom up and top down!

Let’s join our forces and strengths to demand change from decision-makers, to ask them to support the transition towards a fair and sustainable economy, populated by businesses designed for positive impact! We can make a #BusinessRevolution happen globally: this is not a plea for incremental change; it is a demand for a systemic shift!

Stay tuned and support our demand for #BusinessRevolution by using our campaign toolkit.