Local Solutions for a Global Economy


Engaging Governments

At GFI we believe that truly effective livelihood development programs that are both sustainable and broad based require the earnest engagement of local, national and in some cases international government. Government as a partner or a major stakeholder in poverty reduction initiatives helps create linkages that extend beyond the lifecycle of a project and open opportunities that create lasting development impacts. With our unparalleled international network of leading experts, including former Presidents, high-level trade and commerce officials, and prominent labor leaders, GFI works with national and international decision-makers who influence policies at multiple levels. Through careful assessment of the political factors that play into the success of our programs, GFI is able to reach scale and ensure sustainability of outcomes by building capacity of local institutions to assume their responsibilities and provide services for their constituent communities.

Image description Development projects do not operate in a policy vacuum and currently there is little to no formal representation of the working poor in policy-making forums. GFI's Women's Trade & Finance Council works to alleviate poverty by fostering greater inclusion of women's productivity in global trade flows. In addition to advocating for the working poor through influencing trade and finance policies at the international and national levels, the Council seeks to cultivate linkages that expand market and business opportunities that contribute in measurable terms to sustainable livelihoods. 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.

Identifying relevant policy barriers and prioritizing them locally, nationally, and internationally is also an important component of policy and program activities. GFI's strategic partnership with the Wolfensohn Center for Development at the Brookings Institution allows us to better understand the policy barriers small producers face as they seek to export their products. A recognized world leader in policy analysis, the Brookings Institution and GFI together present a unique and inclusive model for designing policy frameworks and development programs that provide the full range of tools necessary to promote sustainable economic growth.

GFI remains a leading innovator in the development of public policy interventions that support small producers and create economic opportunities for the working poor. Through targeted programming and partnerships, GFI engages governments on strategic initiatives that incentivize participation and create lasting links between our constituent worker groups and the governments that serve them.

Where We Work

Where We Work

Active projects
Completed projects

The GFI Impact

Since 2002, the Global Fairness Initiative has improved hundreds of thousands of lives in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. GFI has developed innovative programs to preserve and create jobs, empowered women by removing barriers to economic success, implemented fair wages and increased revenues and attracted domestic and foreign direct investment.

GFI has improved livelihoods in:

El Salvador
Guinea Bissau

Selected populations GFI has impacted:

Shea Nut Pickers and Shea Butter Processors Association (Pagsung) in Ghana
The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India
The Verapaz Community of workers in Guatemala
Informal workers throughout Central America
Informal workers in Tunisia
Bonded and child brick-workers in Nepal
The textile industry and garment workers in Cambodia
The forestry sector in Indonesia
Civil Society Organizations in Azerbaijan
Civil Society Organizations in Ukraine
Smallholder farmers in Guinea Bissau

Our Programs


The Guinea-Bissau Livelihood Initiative

The Guinea-Bissau Livelihood Initiative (GBLI) is an integrated, market-focused project aimed at increasing agricultural production and processing and removing market barriers for small holder farmers, particularly in the cashew sector. The program goals are to economically empower poor producers and create permanent and effective market structures that will allow them to respond to market opportunities and improve their livelihoods. Learn more...

Supported By: The Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation

Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative

The Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative (TILI) is a partnership between GFI, Partners for Democratic Change and the Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS), a local Tunisian civil society organization. The goal of the TILI program is to catalyze opportunities and policies to create greater inclusion of Tunisia’s informal sector into the formal economy. The TILI program is working with government and civil society to increase Tunisia’s capacity to create policies that promote formalization, and to educate informal workers on core livelihood benefits accompanying formal participation in the economy. The program supports public institutions in better measuring and engaging the informal sector, it helps develop the capacity of informal workers to register and participate in government and provides support for the establishment of mechanisms that facilitate the extension of social protections. Learn more...

Supported By: The U.S. Department of State , Partners for Democratic Change, The Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability

Humanity United

Building Inclusive Shea Economies

The Building Inclusive Shea Economies (BISE) is a joint program of the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI), Shea Nut Pickers and Shea Butter Processors Association (Pagsung), Africa 2000 Network Ghana (A2N-Ghana), EcoVentures, International Development Enterprises (IDE), and the Synapse Market Access Fund (Synapse Fund). Designed to scale up agricultural activity and ag-business models for women Shea nut pickers and processors in Northern Ghana, BISE will work to empower these workers by establishing greater control over the local economy, with emphasis on the Shea nut supply chain, building capacity among producers, and improving production practice and quality to facilitate and improve access to Shea nut markets so they too can benefit from a global economy. Learn more...

Supported By: Pagsung, Ecoventures , Africa 2000 Network , International Development Enterprises , Concern Universal

BISE South-South Collaboration

The India Ghana Women Farmers Partnership is a collaborative program that links women Shea nut pickers and processors from Ghana to the woman-led RUDI MultiTrading Company in India to engage in a strategic program on opportunity, investment, and best practices in value chain ownership of women-owned cooperative enterprises. A joint program facilitated by the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) for the PagSung Shea Nut Pickers and Processors Association of Ghana (PagSung) and the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) of India. This knowledge transfer partnership and exchange program seeks to improve the livelihoods of women Shea butter producers through collaboration, training, and improvement of a more robust market access and greater ownership of the Shea value chain. The program will economically empower women producers by establishing greater ownership over their supply chain, building capacity among producers, and improving production quality to facilitate access to regional and international markets. Learn more...

Supported By: SEWA Ni Manager School (SMS), Global Shea


Central American Labor Rights Project

The Central America Labor Rights Project seeks 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 is not designed to advocate the implementation of any particular model in Central America, rather the project seeks to introduce the Central American stakeholders to various tools developed in other parts of the world—including Bulgaria, Cambodia, Turkey and China - that could help the local industry meet the evolving compliance needs of international garment buyers. Learn more...

Creating Your Future / Creando Tu Futuro

The Creating Your Future / Creando Tu Futuro – Workplace Skills Program is an innovative job skills training program aimed at building a strong foundation of technical and life skills knowledge for low income youth in Latin America. Launching in Argentina and Colombia, with a smaller pilot program in the Dominican Republic, the program will develop and deliver a blended platform of online learning modules and classroom instruction to 2200 low­-income youth with the goal of preparing graduates for secure, financially sustainable jobs in the organized sector. Learn more...

Supported By: The Citi Foundation, Kuepa.com

Peru Recyclers Leadership Initiative

To address the challenges and opportunities for the recycling in Peru, GFI and the Peru-based "Ciudad Saludable", lead by grassroots leader Albina Ruiz, have partnered to create a leadership development initiative to help target a significant leadership gap in grassroots level of the sector. Based on the 25 years of work experience, "Ciudad Saludable" and GFI will launch a business development module and leadership academy to help recyclers in Peru advance successful pilot interventions that, "Ciudad Saludable" has undertaken in Peru overt the past 5 years.

Supported By: The Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation

Promoting Informal Labor Rights

GFI is currently implementing PILAR (Promoting Informal Labor Rights), a two-year project initially funded by the US Department of State to improve government capacity to collect data on the informal sector while developing strategies that encourage formalization and provide capacity building to informal sector workers in Nicaragua and Guatemala. Using GFI’s multi-stakeholder approach, we have worked with a broad range of formal and informal worker organizations, government ministries, the private sector, and key civil society organizations to move forward feasible policy solutions. Learn more...

Supported By: The U.S. Department of State , Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Humanísticos (INEH) , Asociación de Investigacion y Estudios Sociales (ASIES), Poliarquía Consultores

Sololá Agro-Industry Initiative

The Sololá Agro-Industry Initiative is designed to strengthen economic opportunity for indigenous agricultural producers and break down existing barriers faced by small-holder organic farmers by creating links to higher value, more sustainable markets. Additionally, the SAII program will utilize a robust multi- stakeholder engagement process to ensure that the voice and participation of the indigenous Mayan communities of Sololá are included in larger economic decision making within Guatemala’s agricultural development agenda. Working through local partner organizations, GFI will maintain an essential community perspective that leverages the established presence of community organizations and leaders who have gained local trust through years of service and direct work on the farms. Learn more...

Supported By: The Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation

Verapaz Action for Sustainable Agro-Industry

Verapaz Action for Sustainable Agro-Industry (VASAI) is aimed at empowering indigenous Mayan producers by improving agricultural production value, strengthening economic opportunities, and building greater local leadership capacity in the communities of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.

Supported By: The Swedish Postcode Lottery

Swedish Postcode

Verapaz Community Empowerment Program

GFI currently implements the Verapaz Community Empowerment Program (VCEP), a two-year program funded by the Swedish Postcode Lottery and based in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. VCEP aims to empower indigenous Mayan producers by improving the value of agricultural production, strengthening access to markets, and building greater local leadership capacity. Learn more...

Supported By: The Swedish Postcode Lottery

Swedish Postcode


Better Brick Nepal

Better Brick Nepal (BBN) is a new three-year program which seeks to complement and expand upon existing initiatives to remove forced labor from Nepalese brick manufacturing as well as address broader environmental and labor issues inherent in the industry. The goal of this Brick Clean Initiative is to create sustainable and effective policies and structures that incentivize the socially and environmentally responsible production of quality bricks in Nepal and catalyze markets to support the entrenchment of “Better Bricks”. To this effort GFI brings a model of engagement and program implementation that builds strong links with government agencies, relevant private and multilateral organizations and key local stakeholders around productive solutions for the promotion of social and economic protection of marginalized or abused workers. Learn more...

Funded By: Humanity United , Brick Clean Group Nepal , Goodweave International

Bridge Schools

GFI has developed the Bridge Schools project in Nepal to provide access to a quality education for over 400 children of Brick Kiln Workers engaged in GFI’s Better Brick Nepal (BBN) Initiative.

Supported By: Anonymous Donor

Retail Opportunity Training Initiative

The Retail Opportunity Training Initiative (ROTI) is designed to bridge the opportunity gap between India’s underemployed women and the country’s fastest growing economic sector. Bridging this gap between available jobs and the fundamental hard and soft skills necessary to secure them is an essential step in addressing the challenge of the underemployment of women and to building the confident, well-prepared workforce necessary to maximize the success of India’s growth sectors. ROTI is supporting the professional growth and economic empowerment of 36,000 women by delivering certificate level training in retail sales designed to prepare graduates for market-facing job opportunities, and build a foundation of key life and livelihood skills. Learn more...

Supported By: The Walmart Foundation , SEWA Ni Manager School (SMS)

Salt Workers Economic Empowerment Program

Program Empowerment Program (SWEEP) is a collaborative project of GFI and the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) designed to improve economic opportunity and empowerment for women salt farmers and introduce environmentally sustainable energy solutions to lower production costs so that the poor too can benefit from “green technology.” Capitalizing on sustainable technology and production methods, improved links to high-value markets and greater local control of energy costs, SWEEP gives women salt producers tools, access and voice to better realize profits and maximize their personal and community livelihood goals. Learn more...

Supported By: SEWA Ni Manager School (SMS)

Women Farmers with Global Potential

The WFGP program is a collaborative project of GFI, the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), and the Brookings Insitution. It is designed to open doors to education, environmental innovations, and market access for women farmers in India. By giving women farmers the information and tools needed to run their businesses, GFI and its partners are helping to raise women and their families out of poverty. Learn more...

Supported By: SEWA Ni Manager School (SMS)

Sustainable Forestry Program

Despite the demonstrated political will at the national level and some excellent new public- private partnerships, the campaign for sustainable forestry in Indonesia is still in its early stages, with much work remaining. To strengthen this campaign, in 2005 GFI convened a coalition of multilateral organizations and civil society institutions— including the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, PENSA, the World Wide Fund for Nature, The Nature Conservancy and the Global Fairness Initiative— to assist the Indonesian government’s national campaign against illegal logging by generating a set of policy recommendations to encourage increased forest certification. Learn more...

Better Factories

With support from the World Bank Group and the US-ASEAN Business Council, in 2004 GFI designed and implemented an engagement process to explore ways to use this uniquely just, innovative advantage to protect and expand Cambodia's textile exports. Learn more...


Securing Prosperity in Azerbaijan

In June 2005 GFI initiated the Azerbaijan Working Group to serve as an independent council of NGOs and think tanks bound together by common concern and impending focus. The Working Group consisted of the following members: The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI); the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), USA, The Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation (IEAC), Ukraine; The Aspen Institute Berlin, Germany, the French Institute for International Relations, the Community Housing Finance (CHF) Foundation, Baku; the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, Baku; The Centre for International Relations, Poland;Tesev, Turkey; IMI, Ukraine; and the INAM Center for Pluralism, Baku. Learn more...

Ukraine Democracy Conference

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. Learn more...


Women's Trade and Finance Council

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. Learn more...

Grassroots Trading Network

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. Learn more...

Decent Work Agenda

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. Learn more...

Synapse Market Access Fund

The Synapse Market Access Fund (Synapse) is a registered institution with a 501(C)(3) status under the fiscal and administrative sponsorship of the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI). Synapse is committed to creating economic opportunity for the working poor by catalyzing the growth of inclusive financial markets and mechanisms in developing economies. By introducing innovative financing models and direct loan products to small producers in the agricultural sector, Synapse bridges the “Missing Middle” gap between micro-finance and commercial banking. Synapse’s investments are complimented by GFI’s initiatives, which are focused on building local capacity, strengthening market access, and eliminating regulatory barriers to enhance the value and potential return of the Synapse portfolio. Learn more...

Our Initiatives

The Global Fairness Initiative seeks to run initiatives that secure fair wages to promote economic development for vulnerable workers, engage governments to extend balanced policies, adopt sustainable solutions so the poor can benefit from green innovations, extend meaningful social standards to attract investments, and remove barriers to create equal access to high value markets. The following initiatives help guide are mission, our programs, and our events, and are detailed below:

Initiative: Informality

Informality encompasses economic activities lacking adequate documentation. Although informality exists worldwide, this segment of the economy tends to be larger in developing nations. Informal employment provides a survival strategy in countries lacking social safety nets (such as unemployment insurance) or where wages and pensions are low. Demographic trends characteristic of developing economies, such as rapid population growth and urbanization, often augment the informal sector. Under these conditions, informal employment tends to absorb most of the expanding labor force in urban areas. Informal employment is typically a result of few viable, income-generating alternatives.

Learn more about this initiative.

To learn more about our initiatives in action:

Initiative: Multi-stakeholder Engagement

If informality in many countries provides the majority of new jobs, why spend the time, money, and effort to integrate it into the mainstream? Because the informal economy is composed of vulnerable workers, including small-scale farmers, domestic workers, home-based workers, children, wage employees, and small enterprises, who cannot weather economic downturns but could thrive with access to social safety nets and formal services that provide legal and physical safety. Integrating informal workers is a necessary government initiative to improve labor rights enforcement, employment conditions, competitiveness, and thereby create a more resilient national economy.

Learn more about this initiative.

To learn more about our initiatives in action:

Initiative: Inclusive Agricultural Economy

For nearly a decade, the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) has been a leader in providing solutions that open economic access and opportunity for working poor communities around the globe. In these emerging economies, agricultural workers represent a large percentage of the labor force, yet are often among the poorest and most vulnerable. In order to ensure the sustainable economic and legal inclusion of the majority of workers, GFI works to identify and address the real barriers preventing long-term economic viability. By giving farmers the training, tools, and access necessary to operate in the real economy, GFI and its partners are helping to move thousands of families from subsistence to true sustainability.

Learn more about this initiative.

To learn more about our initiatives in action:

Initiative: Investing in Women-owned Enterprises

Women around the globe face poverty-related challenges unique to their gender due in large part to lack of access to land rights, multiple responsibilities within and outside the home, as well as limited access to formal education and technical training. In many regions of the world the majority of agricultural production is handled by women and adolescent girls. Although women are the backbone of the rural economy, they rarely receive fair and equitable compensation for their labor.

GFI creates adaptive and integrated projects to increase agricultural production and remove market barriers for women farmers to help address the growing food security issue, respond to climate change and erosion of natural resources, and address the economic disadvantages of informal working communities. The results are results driven multi-stakeholder engagements that economically empower poor women producers and create permanent and effective local market structures that allow marginalized women to respond to market fluctuations, mitigate risk and improve their livelihood.

Learn more about this initiative.

To learn more about our initiatives in action:

Our Approach

The GFI Difference

GFI creates local economies that work for local stakeholders, instead of making local stakeholders work for a global economy.

How we do that:

Engaging Government
GFI is a leading innovator in the development of public policy interventions that support small producers and create economic opportunity for the working poor.

Investing in Women Producers
At GFI we believe that women represent the greatest potential for putting an end to the cycle of poverty that undermines development around the globe.

Building Workforce Capacity
By engaging unions and other organized formal and informal worker groups, GFI expands the reach of our economic development initiatives and broadens the impact of social services in the countries where we work.

Improving Access to Markets
Building on our unique multi-stakeholder process, GFI is working with private sector leaders to identify market opportunities and remove the obstacles that prevent quality products from reaching markets and producers from earning a fair price.

Bringing Fairness to Free Trade
As nations struggle to define fairness, GFI has led the way to broaden inclusion in the free trade process by bringing traditionally-excluded workforce stakeholders to the bargaining table.