Public Procurement Reform
Last week, the Scottish Fair Trade Forum hosted the Ethical Procurement Conference to discuss how Scotland can build on its achievements as a Fair Trade Nation through the use of public procurement - particularly against the backdrop of imminent public procurement reform. Attendees included buyers, suppliers and representative from Forum member organisations and campaigners.
Martin Meteyard, Chair of the Forum's Board and Claire Lissaman from the Fairtrade Foundation kicked off proceedings with a talk about the recent developments in Fair Trade in Scotland. Josephine Mitchell, the Scottish Government Procurement Directorate was on hand to talk about the current policies that support public procurement and the Procurement Reform. Next up was Haylea Campbell of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office who spoke about the new EU public procurement directives, which deletes the lowest price option, making it easier to take into consideration other criteria, including Fair Trade, when awarding a public contract. Karen Bowman, Director of Procurement at the University of Edinburgh spoke about Best Practice in the education sector. Helen Reilly from the British Medical Association showed a short film about the exploitation of workers in Pakistan in the production of medical equipment as part of her presentation. Sylvia Gray, Sustainability Officer at East Dunbartonshire Council spoke about Best Practice in local authorities and Kim Young from Sustainable Scotland Network followed on from this with some general points supporting ethical procurement beyond Fair Trade. Throughout the day the talks highlighted the need to think beyond Fair Trade tea and coffee when thinking about public procurement.
The day rounded off with group discussions around the issues in organisations in pursuing ethical procurement. A running theme in the discussions was that procurement officers found it difficult to persuade those at a higher level of the value of Fair Trade and ethical procurement, and that they were often locked in restrictive purchasing frameworks. The day proved a great success in discussing the value of ethical procurement and challenges that procurers face; and highlighting what needs to be done next – to keep stressing the importance of Fair Trade and ethical procurement to the Scottish Government, and make sure there are frameworks and guidance in place in order to help procurement officers integrate ethical values into their purchasing. Slideshows and presentations from the conference are available on the Forum website. http://www.scottishfairtradeforum.org.uk/newsroom/latest-news/news/procurement-conference.html#.UphsKNJdWxo
The Forum has now made its submission to the Scottish Parliament's Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee which is looking the Scottish Government's Procurement Reform Bill. http://www.scottishfairtradeforum.org.uk/newsroom/publications/written-evidence-procurement.html#.UphrY9JdWxp
Carishea is a subsidiary of Trade Right International CIC, which operates under the charity missionNOW. It is an inspiring organisation based on a Social Business model that seeks to provide trade and employment opportunities to communities in need.
Their work is spread over two places:
in Ghana, in the Bulisa District of the Upper Eastern Region, where they operate a shea nut and butter co-operation for women, providing them with important training, skills and self-determination.
in Scotland, where they have a soap factory in Greenock, Inverclyde. In Scotland Carishea cooperates with the addiction rehabilitation centre, The Haven and Scottish Prison Service (SPS) at Greenock Prison assisting with the a new creative employability programme by providing work for recovering addicts in the manufacturing of their shea butter products.
Carishea is unique and inspirational due to the fact that their core principles go beyond the concept of Fair Trade; as much as 50% of their profit is turned back into the communities they are working with. There are no shareholders to pay the dividends to as they are a registered CIC (Community Interest Company); all their workers earn living wage and the salaries of their managers are limited to 2.5 times of these wages.
As the founder of the Trade Right International, Trev Gregory put it in an article for the Scotsman
, it is often difficult to explain the nature of the organisation, which is neither a charity nor a business but rather a Community Interest Company. It works as a business, however its main aim is to use its profits to reach ethical and social development goals.
Their work is radical, inspiring and unique as they manage to help communities both here in Scotland and in Ghana while seeking to expand their core values of sustainability and ethical trading.
You can explore more about the dedicated work they do and the products they sell on their website