Fairtrade Focus: The top three things we’ve learnt from creating our own sustainable sourcing model

Since the inception of English Tea Shop, we’ve had a laser eye focus on addressing grassroot problems faced by our farmers who source the organic ingredients found in our tea.

In light of this, we are very much looking forward to celebrating and supporting the upcoming Fairtrade Fortnight, which without doubt have given a global voice to farmers.

Our business model, Creating Shared Value (CSV) facilitates a holistic approach to value creation, and not just wealth creation. As a result, the well-being of farmers, consumers and communities are continuously being placed at the forefront of our business operations making Fairtrade Fortnight particularly close to our heart.

The impact of creating and implementing our own sourcing model has been profound not only for the farmers but for our business and all those in our community, or what we like to call our Prajāva.

It has allowed us to not only support change but affect change, as we lead initiatives for those in our community that really make a difference. But our journey hasn’t been easy, and particularly from a leadership point of view, full of learnings which I wanted to share with you:

1. Your business model is only ever as strong as your Prajāva.

Prajāva means community and this along with your partnerships are your greatest assets when embarking on creating your own sustainable sourcing model. It is the life source of your brand and the more you put into your community the more you will get back.

2. The journey to creating your own ethical sourcing model is not without its challenges.

In order to create a successful model that works for your community and your business you must be prepared to overcome challenges as it is not an easy task. For us the biggest challenge was to convince ourselves that sustainability through deep social impact was going to be how we build a competitive advantage for the business. Even though it made sense on paper, we found it challenging to relate this to our everyday business work. Particularly when convincing our farming and supply chain communities that our intention was to create meaningful, long-term win-win partnerships and not to interfere and teach them how to do their work. However, if you have the passion, drive and commitment there is nothing that you can’t overcome.

3. It is extremely worthwhile!

We only have to look at the impact CSV has had on our Prajāva and our business itself to know that the journey was completely worth it. As a result of CSV, we have improved the lives of 2,500 farming families in Sri Lanka and worldwide and enhanced the livelihood of over 400 individuals in our Sri Lanka factory, which in doing so, increased productivity by 35%. Without taking the leap to create our own sustainable sourcing model, English Tea Shop wouldn’t be where we are today.

If you would like to find out more, our brand video ‘From Seed to Cup’ beautifully highlights the work we have been doing as a result of CSV and can be found here. 

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