Coops Europe and Fair Trade team up to promote people-centred businesses

Leaders of the European co-operative movement discussed the importance of people-centred events at a high-level conference in Brussels. The conference was hosted by MEP Gay Mitchell and jointly...

Leaders of the European co-operative movement discussed the importance of people-centred events at a high-level conference in Brussels. The conference was hosted by MEP Gay Mitchell and jointly organised by Cooperatives Europe and Fair Trade Advocacy Office.

The aim of the conference was to show that people-centred business, including co-operatives play a crucial role in making supply chains work for small producers.

The conference was split in four sessions assessing EU policy with regard to people-centred events. Delegates discussed how the EU can support the empowerment of small producers in developing countries, building partnerships in supply chains and promoting people-centred business models. 

Keynote speakers included Klaus Niederlander, Director of Coops Europe, Harriet Lamb, CEO of Fairtrade International, Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director General, Development and Cooperation, European Commission and Sergi Corbalan, Executive Director, Fair Trade Advocacy Office. Academics and representatives of various NGOs also took part in the discussions.

At the event, Dirk J. Lehnhoff, President of Cooperatives Europe, said: “Cooperatives and Fair Trade are established development actors with long-term oriented business models. By putting people’s needs first, we have proven to be able to respond to sustainable, economic and social needs.”

Mr Lehnhoff added that Cooperatives Europe supported the European Commission’s initiative that had been announced in the Agenda for Change. The initiative seeks to encourage collaboration between the private sector and the Commission with the aim of achieving EU’s development objectives.

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“We believe that member-owned businesses, which benefit local communities, should be key partners,” said Dirk Lehnhoff.

Both Cooperatives Europe and Fair Trade have been actively engaged in promoting enterprises that place people and not profit at the heart of business.

Harriet Lamb, CEO of Fair Trade International, explained: “Businesses alone are not enough to tackle poverty; the EU should foster people-centred businesses. Cooperatives and Fair Trade have shown that they put high standards and strict rules on businesses, that they put people first, and still they are successful.”

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