There have been some significant tie-ups between fair trade organisations and retail chains in the country, recently. Shop for Change Fair Trade and Anita Dongre’s AND announced a groundbreaking new partnership to mainstream fair trade across India. Seth Petchers – CEO, Shop for Change Fair Trade, throws some light on the subject and the tie-up in a conversation with Neha Malhotra.
Neha Malhotra (NM): Can you give us some details about the inception and growth of Shop for Change Fair Trade?
Seth Petchers (SP): Shop For Change Fair Trade, an Indian Sec. 25 not-for-profit company, was established through a multi-stakeholder process that began in 2006. It was created to build on successful international models of fair trade certification and grassroots marketing and mobilisation. This process was spearheaded by Traidcraft (UK) and International Resources for Fairer Trade (India) - both independent organisations working to promote fair trade norms and products. These organisations saw the huge potential to spread awareness about fair trade products amongst the growing consumer market in India through an Indian-grown certification body. Amid the growth of awareness about social and environmental issues, the boom in organised retail, and the popularity of new technology to communicate to consumers, there is a convergence of opportunities in India to make fair trade big and long lasting. There’s a great opportunity for Shop for Change, and what’s exciting is that it is a win-win opportunity for farmers, business, and consumers who want to make a difference.
NM: Shop for Change has entered into a tie up with Anita Dongre’s AND. Throw some light on the tie up?
SP: This is a landmark alliance for Shop for Change Fair Trade representing a significant new platform to promote the concept of fair trade. Our collaboration with AND is a seismic shift for fair trade in India and a victory for Indian farmers. Through this association, AND and Shop for Change guarantee that the farming families behind the products received a fair deal for their hard work.
NM: What was the reason behind entering into this tie-up?
SP: AND is the first major retail chain to bring fair trade into the mainstream in India and the credit goes to Anita Dongre for having the vision to see how this partnership can be good for farmers and for the industry. When I first met Anita she was well aware of the fair trade concept from her travels abroad and immediately saw it as a way to make a difference in farmers’ lives while differentiating her products and adding value that would be meaningful to her customers. Shop for Change worked with Anita and one of her fabric suppliers, West-End Fashions, to create wonderful fabrics made from Shop for Change certified cotton. As part of the process, Anita, Gul Panag and I travelled to visit farmers from Chetna Organic, the farmer organisation that supplied the cotton for this collection, so that Anita could see, first hand, how farmers will benefit.
NM: Which retail outlets are the designs available at? What is the price range of the products?
SP: AND’s new Shop for Change collection is available across 16 AND stores plus select Shoppers Stop, Central, Lifestyle, and Pantaloons stores. The collection is a mixed bag of light and summery dresses, shirts and tops in 21 vibrant and colourful designs, priced in the range of Rs 895 to Rs 1695.
NM: Have you formed any similar associations earlier? If yes, share the details?
SP: Prior to our association with Anita Dongre, we had collaborated with the future group affiliated store Mother Earth and Indian Designer Rina Dhaka. We are thoroughly excited to see the enthusiasm from these early adopters.
NM: What are the company's future plans in terms of such tie ups with the retail industry?
SP: We’ve already launched products with Mother Earth and Anita Dongre’s AND. Several conversations with other well known brands are in process and I expect, we will have exciting new partners launching with a Shop for Change label in the coming months.