Carry Somers – Pachacuti

Rhodes Trust Lecture Theatre

Pachacuti don’t have any raw materials that can be certified as Fairtrade but they consider ourselves to be and describe themselves that way.

Founded in 1992, using traditional skills from the Andes, supporting 1200 people – knitters, hatters etc.

Principal raw materials locally and ethically sourced but not certified Fairtrade. This has caused problems, Next wanted to stock their Panama hats but insisted on the Fairtrade mark – told the company they couldn’t stock the hats until they had it.

This spurred them to become a part of the Sustainable Fairtrade Management System (SFTMS) – an alternative to the standard Fairtrade certification which certifies the organisation rather than just the specific product. Focuses on the management of the certified organisation e.g. labour issues, relationships with stakeholders and staff, production systems, purchases, sales, verification of all processes and procedures. Checking they’re doing what they say they’re doing in terms of their producers.

Pachacuti find none of their products are eligible for the Fairtrade mark due to where they’re made, even though they’re ethically and locally sourced in Ecuador. They think the Panama hat is the ideal first product to bear the label as it once epitomised colonial rule but a Fairtrade Panama will symbolise the power returned to the hands of the producer groups themselves.

The price of a garment is not determined by the raw material alone but by the added value from design, embellishment, etc. so Pachacuti believes it is important to have a label which recognises the Fairtrade production process, all the added value there on top of just the raw materials.

Action Plan Examples include:

- changing to 100% renewable electricity
- staff training courses at London College of Fashion
- new glasses for embroiderers, with eye tests and glasses to be provided for the weavers next

SFTMS has provided a really valuable structured framework for improving our business relationship with our producer groups, strengthened our organisation system throughout its management system and relationship with staff and stakeholders and brought about immediate improvements to our quality control. Holding short talks with producers on posture when knitting, for example, cost us nothing but made a massive difference as they weren’t aware of the importance of sitting properly and taking breaks.”

Pachacuti’s Fairtrade Report 2008-9 is available here.

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