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A Fair and Sustainable Business Model is Possible! This is the positive and encouraging message we wanted to deliver at our event, organized in the framework of the Belgian Fair Trade Week funded by Enabel, in collaboration with the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Fair Trade Belgium, Oxfam MdM and Belgian Fair Trade Federation. We invited business actors, government officials, scholars, students and passionate individuals to discuss the challenges faced by sustainable, ethical and social enterprises in their daily business and the possible solutions that could help them overcoming these obstacles. The objective of the event was to show that an alternative business model is perfectly viable if one invests enough passion, values and determination in the project.

The evening started with some interesting presentations on recent research commissioned by WFTO-Europe on Fair Payment and recommendations for implementing it to achieve Local Living Wages for producers, workers and artisans on the one side, and, on the other side, by WFTO Global on Alternative Business Models, presented by Erinch Sahan, WFTO’s Chief Executive. Afterwards, the event evolved into a Round Table discussion with three interesting panelists: Mr. Frank Cockerill, from Elecosy a producer of sustainable paper products made of elephant poo, Mrs. Isabelle Steenebrugge, from La Pachamama a Fair Trade enterprise dealing in handcrafted toys and Mr. Maxime Bacq from Group One, a consultancy for sustainable, green, social, fair trade and similar start-ups. Finally, after some rounds of questions the audience took active part, engaging in working groups, to debate possible solutions to the obstacles raised by the panelists. The final objective was to produce a policy brief to submit as a result and follow-up of the event. In conclusion, one of the most meaningful remarks from the round table discussion was the statement that these kind of alternative business models succeed because they have a heart, they have values and people believing in those values that differentiate them from the crowd.