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Grassroots Trading Network

For "Grassroots Producers" -- productive poor persons working in the informal economy -- reliable access to regional and global markets is critical to long-term income growth. We believe that market opportunities for grassroots producers must be strengthened, supported, and expanded.

The Challenge

Grassroots Producer Organizations (GPOs) have developed to build the collective capacity of poor producers, leverage capital, and facilitate trade. These GPOs focus on bringing products to market.

Despite this important step, GPOs remain on the margins of commercial activities due to a number of factors, including:

  • Their Size and Organization is often too small to effectively compete;
  • The Lack of Information leaves them without market data or good buyer relations;
  • Inadequate Technical Capacity makes it difficult to develop production practices that lead to timely delivery of competitively priced, quality goods, and;
  • Policy Barriers that often limit poor persons’ access to lucrative markets

The Opportunity

In 2001, GFI facilitated efforts by the Self Employed Women’s Association to create the Grassroots Trading Network (GTN). The goal of the GTN is to strengthen, support, and expand market opportunities for grassroots producer organizations with a particular focus on women producers. Since its creation, the GTN has developed a long-term plan to grow grassroots producers into effective participants in the global economy. In 2004-05, A pilot project was launched in India leading to the preparation of a business plan projecting self-sufficiency by the year 2012. Such an ambitious plan is possible because GTN is acting like a hybrid Chamber of Commerce and Trade Association for poor producers, providing them with trade facilitation, capacity building, and policy advocacy. GTN also uses its growing network of partners to build public/private partnerships with government and businesses throughout the world.

For more information about this project, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Decent Work Agenda

In 2004, working with key partners in U.S. civil society, multilateral institutions, and the academic community, GFI spearheaded a dialog around the simple notion that, since employment – jobs – is the single most important economic factor for the vast majority of the world’s population, widespread sustainable employment needs to be a part of the global development agenda. We believe that sustainable job creation – not wealth creation that leads to the creation of new jobs – should be central to globalization.

The Challenge

In 2004, GFI facilitated five seminars involving key partners within civil society, multilateral institutions, government, and academia to discuss the concept of a Decent Work Agenda. The results of these meetings were so well received they became part of the 2004 World Commission Report on the Social Dimensions of Globalization, endorsed by all the members of the International Labor Organization GFI moved the debate from an academic theme to an accessible policy dialog that includes a carefully-constructed consensus among civil society partners and opinion leaders from around the world.

We view the decent work agenda as one of the most exciting and economically empowering policy challenges for the development community.

The Opportunity

Beginning in 2007 and as an ongoing initiative today, GFI is moving the decent work agenda from consensus building to implementation, and will develop a pragmatic yet sweeping set of policy prescriptions and arguments for a progressive employment and development agenda.

How will do this this? First, we will coordinate research and activities that have developed in various forms and institutions, including the International Labor Organization, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Center for American Progress, the Economic Policy Institute, the Ethical Globalization Initiative, the Brookings Institute, the International Institute for Economics, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Center for Global Development.

Second, GFI will produce an accessible document—a “white paper” -- for use by the general public and political leaders. The white paper will describe the basic, non-technical concepts and public policy rationale for the decent work agenda. The “white paper” will also outline the arguments for employment lead growth to policy makers, the media, opinion leaders and civil society.

Creating a movement and set of policy prescriptions around the decent work agenda requires a long-term commitment. It may take another decade before we fully realize the economic policy reform necessary to promote workers' interests and inspire real changes in the lives of the poor, the unemployed or under-employed. Starting from a very modest intellectual base, GFI has made an important and clearly defined impact on the early growth of this movement. Looking to the future, the policy generation and implementation phases are not far off.

For more information about this project, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Central America Labor Rights Project

Program Information

The Challenge

With the expiration of the Multi With the expiration of the Multi With the expiration of the Multi-Fiber Arrangement’s (MFA) textile quota system in Arrangement’s (MFA) textile quota system in Arrangement’s (MFA) textile quota system in 2005, all textile 2005, all textile-producing nations face new challenges, as up to 60% of post challenges, as up to 60% of post-quota global textile production will likely move to China. For the Central American nations, even with the new trade preferences provided by the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), they would certainly lose a portion of their production market share to their dominant competitor.

Some garment manufacturers and industry-dependent nations sought to compete with China and India by tapping a market niche driven by large, reputation risk averse retailers from the US and EU seeking to protect their brands from the tarnishing accusations of sweatshop abuse and corporate social irresponsibility. Recent studies and practical experiences indicate that if a country’s garment sector is competitive in price, quality, speed to market and innovation, then “brand security”—in the form of verifiable labor rights compliance—becomes a significant factor in corporate sourcing decisions.

How GFI is Addressing the Challenge

The Central America Labor Rights Project project sought to promote market-driven social responsibility as part of an industrial growth strategy in nations where garment production is critical to export growth, starting with Guatemala. The project was not designed to advocate the implementation of any particular model in Central America, rather the project sought to introduce the Central American stakeholders to various tools developed in other parts of the world—including Bulgaria, Cambodia, Turkey and China—that helped the local industry meet the evolving compliance needs of international garment buyers.

With CAFTA’s ratification, the Central American garment industry faced a state of transition, as production consolidated and modernized. The GILCA partnership was designed to help the Salvadoran and Guatemalan industry seize the moment—to seek out and implement innovations that are important to large-scale garment buyers, and to modernize their compliance as well as their production—they could be well positioned to compete into the future.

After nearly nine months of multi-stakerholder discussions, the project facilitated an agreement between the Government of Guatemala, labor unions, and the textile producers that will enable Guatemala to estalish reliable, transparent, systems to verify compliance with national labor standards. Government officials fully implemented this proposal in 2007. GILCA partners then turned their attention to the country of El Salvador, where a similiar exercise will began in 2007.

The key to industrial growth based on this emergent market niche is verifiable, credible and cross-sectorally acceptable assurances of labor rights protection. There are various models in practice or under development in some garment producing nations which have already delivered increased employment, enhanced conditions and improved productivity in the garment sector. While likely not fully replicable, some of these models may have highly relevant applications to the nations of Central America.

For more information about this project, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Womens Trade and Finance Council

In 2004, working with key partners in U.S. civil society, multilateral institutions, and the academic community, GFI spearheaded a dialog around the simple notion that, since employment – jobs – is the single most important economic factor for the vast majority of the world’s population, widespread sustainable employment needs to be a part of the global development agenda. We believe that sustainable job creation – not wealth creation that leads to the creation of new jobs – should be central to globalization.

Mission and Objectives

The Women’s Trade & Finance Council has been created to alleviate poverty by fostering greater inclusion of women’s productivity in global trade flows. The Council’s overarching objective is to influence trade and finance policies at the international and national levels. In addition, the Council seeks to cultivate North-South and South-South linkages that expand market and business opportunities, thereby contributing in measurable terms to sustainable livelihoods.

Who We Are

Originally conceptualized by Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Reema Nanavaty of the Self Employed Women’s Association in India (SEWA), the Women’s Trade & Finance Council has been established by the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) in partnership with Vital Voices Global Partnership. The Council is comprised of grassroots leaders, international businesswomen, policymakers and thought leaders, all of whom share a commitment to strengthening the role of women in the global economy. The Council also engages practitioners, policy experts, economists and others whose knowledge of gender and trade issues bolsters the credibility and efficacy of its work.

What We Do

Given its composition, the Women’s Trade & Finance Council is uniquely positioned to pursue a dual-track approach to (1) leverage its high-impact capacity to influence global trade and finance policymakers, and (2) foster practical linkages that yield near-term business opportunities.

Through its convening power and access to international policymakers, Council members are well positioned to raise awareness about the gender aspects of international trade and finance, and to propose reforms that will promote sustainable livelihoods and strengthen developing economies. The Council is structured to examine and develop solutions to such practical issues as financing terms, market access barriers, production constraints and supply chain management challenges. In addition, the Council serves as a forum through which potential partners can pursue pioneering commercial opportunities and share best practices.

For more information about this project, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ukraine in Europe and the World

Program Information

The Challenge

Ukraine's remarkable "Orange Revolution" reversed a trend of corruption, repression and impunity familiar to many former Soviet republics, and has accelerated Ukraine's transition to a peaceful, transparent free market democracy. Integral to this process was the establishment of partnerships supporting Ukraines' full integration into Europe and the World.

The Opportunity

Working with nongovernmental organizations in Europe, in 2003 GFI became a co-founder of “The Friends of Ukraine Network,” a network of organizations in support of Ukraine's new democracy. The Friends of Ukraine sponsored the February 2004 Conference in Kyiv and now work towards developing public policy, enhancing the public dialogue, supporting related scholarship, and educating world leaders and on Ukraine's present needs.

The Friends of Ukraine Network orchestrated important gains for Ukraine’s progress towards a democracy. It helped build Ukraine’s political culture by hosting for the first time in contemporary history political discussions between the two major presidential candidates (Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovich). At this meeting, senior government officials listened in public to criticism from both Ukrainian and foreign participant. Their work also strengthened support for continued democratic changes in the country, while conveying their trust to the democratic opposition. Finally, because it worked entirely in public settings, it enabled national and international media to more accurately report on the democratic changes underway in the Ukraine.

With the 2004 election in Ukraine and non-violent transition of power, Ukraine continued down the long path towards democracy. To continue on this path, GFI and the Friends of Ukraine Network will continue working towards the following objectives:

  • Complete the transition of the Ukrainian government to a well-functioning state
  • Continue political, social, and economic reforms required for membership in the European Union
  • Implement rule of law and train responsible and trustworthy lawyers and judges
  • Build peaceful relationships with it neighbors
  • Use its unique place in history to develop a healthy Euro-Atlantic relationship with Russia
  • Attract tourists to Ukraine and bring people in from the European Union

For more information about this project, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..