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Creating Your Future / Creando Tu Futuro

Program Information


Program Supporter: The Citi Foundation
Implementing Partner: Kuepa.com


The Challenge

Despite the large youth population, developing countries have failed to absorb the youth into their education systems and labor markets, thereby not fully benefiting from this “youth dividend.” In Latin America and the Caribbean, young people account for roughly 50% of all unemployed workers in nearly every country in the region. Sustained unemployment reinforces inter­-generational transmission of poverty, promotes anti­-social and high­-risk behavior, and restricts the ability of a community and economy to grow and realizes it’s social and economic development goals. It is essential to promote youth employment by encouraging programs that provide youth with soft and hard working skills that will help them get better jobs and continue their education and professional growth at a higher level.

The Opportunity

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. The program will provide beneficiaries with instruction through four unique modules: math and literacy skill; workplace communication with applied English; technical and technology skills; and a blend of personal financial management and job search skills. The central goal of the program is to maximize the employability of participants by empowering them with the fundamental technical and personal skills necessary to effectively pursue and secure full employment, and achieve sustainable personal and professional success in their future careers.

Learn More

Visit creandotufuturo.com to learn more about the program, curriculum, and learning modules.

Program Leadership Team

Jessica Yarrow
Country Director, Latin America

GFI's Latin America Country Director, Jessica Yarrow, has been in Guatemala since 1997 working for human rights organizations supporting local initiatives to improve labor rights, access to justice, economic development and to end human trafficking. She also has experience interpreting and translating for visiting funders and academic groups. With GFI Jessica will provide insight and manage our current projects in Latin America. She holds a master’s degree in International and Intercultural Management from the School for International Service and a B.A. in Spanish/Latin American Studies from American University in Washington, DC.

Recent Activities

Visit soon to learn more about Creating Your Future program activities and milestones

Feedback

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Sololá Agro-Industry Initiative

Program Information


Program Supporter: The Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation


The Challenge

Indigenous communities throughout Central America have historically been victims of an institutionally structured process of marginalization. Over countless years, these communities have seen social and political rights withheld and were often targets of human rights abuses during the 1980s. To address the many challenges of Sololá’s indigenous farmers, GFI has launched a community-based initiative designed to empower farming communities through improved agricultural production, market access and finance opportunities to help expand economic opportunity. The Sololá Agro-Industry Initiative (SAII) 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 uses 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.

The Opportunity

SAII is working with both smallholder farming communities and large buyers. Training and capacity building focuses on improving farming inputs and promoting skills and practices that address productivity, quality, and value. While all training modules are developed in partnership with the community, trainings will be designed around environmental and economic best practices and decent work standards in the agricultural sector. SAII is working to connect farming communities with larger buyers and secure transfer of knowledge through successful business contracts. Trainings could potentially adapt to buyer requirements without compromising labor or environmental standards.

Program Leadership Team

Jessica Yarrow

Country Director, Guatemala

GFI's Guatemala Country Director, Jessica Yarrow, has been in Guatemala since 1997 working for human rights organizations supporting local initiatives to improve labor rights, access to justice, economic development and to end human trafficking. She also has experience interpreting and translating for visiting funders and academic groups. With GFI Jessica will provide insight and manage our current projects in Guatemala. She holds a master’s degree in International and Intercultural Management from the School for International Service and a B.A. in Spanish/Latin American Studies from American University in Washington, DC.

Recent Activities

Visit soon to learn more about the SAII program activities and milestones

Feedback

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Guinea-Bissau Livelihood Initiative

Program Information


Program Supporter: The Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation
Implementing Partners: APALCOF, ANAG


The Challenge and the Opportunity

Farming communities throughout Guinea-Bissau have historically been victims of an entrenched, and often institutional, process of economic marginalization. The Guinea-Bissau Livelihood Initiative aims to break the current poverty cycle affecting smallholder producers and improve livelihoods through support of government priorities on economic growth and poverty reduction with a focus on agricultural production, market access and regulatory improvements for the farming sector. GBLI will target crop diversification for food security by providing technical assistance on producing high value crops like tomatoes, onions and particularly rice, which is a priority for the national development agenda of Guinea Bissau. The program’s core goals are to provide technical assistance, infrastructure investments, access to financing and technology, and direct market linkages for small-holder farmers. The market access strategy will also focus on opportunities to improve the conditions for processing, pricing and trading of cashews, and other high value products. The underlying objectives are to economically empower poor producers (primarily women), to extract great value from their products and facilitate a more enabling regulatory and commercial environment for smallholder producers throughout the Guinea-Bissau.

Partners and Stakeholders

GBLI is working with a community of approximately 5,000 women and men employed in agricultural production. The program will engage stakeholders in Guinea-Bissau’s agriculture sector through four key interventions: technical assistance and capacity building, producer investment and market linkages, policy engagement, and enterprise leadership development. In order to address the root causes of poverty GBLI will target the interrelated barriers that contribute to the fundamental breakdowns in Guinea-Bissau’s agricultural economy. By leveraging GFI’s expertise in livelihood development and market access to maximize the capacity of local agricultural cooperatives and producer groups, the GBLI program aims to remove the barriers to economic opportunity for small producers in one of the world’s poorest and most isolated nations.

Program Leadership Team

Salome

Haua Embaló

Country Director, Guinea-Bissau

Haua Embaló is a manager in the socioeconomic field of study with expertise in project management, strategic planning, institutional development and microfinance development. With over 11 years of experience in community development, Embaló’s career includes the design and implementation of poverty reduction programs to generate income for local producers and youth organizations in craftwork, rice production and the cashew sector in Guinea Bissau. Prior to joining GFI, Haua worked for 10 years with SNV (a Dutch organization working in community development in Guinea-Bissau) as an adviser and project manager. In addition to her work as a project manager, she also worked as an independent consultant on numerous projects and programs in Guinea-Bissau. Haua began working as GFI Country Director for Guinea-Bissau in January 2016.

Jean

Jean Marsault Ella

Deputy Country Director, Guinea-Bissau

Jean Marsault is originally from Cameroon, where he did his entire nursery, primary, secondary and university studies. He is a graduate, as a Field Engineer in Telecommunication, from the National Polytechnic Bamenda, Cameroon. He later on went for further studies in the Republic of South Africa where he studied community development at the Kwazulu Natal Experimental College in Pinetown, Durban and graduated as a Development Instructor. As a pre-requisite for completion of community development studies, he did a successful six-month internship with Humana People to People in South Africa, an international NGO. Prior to joining GFI, Jean Marsault worked with a number of organizations, including ADPP in Guinea-Bissau, an international organization member of the International Federation of the Humana People to People, where he held the position of Partnership Officer; APALCOF, a major small holder farmers’ association in Guinea-Bissau, where he held the position of Program Manager; and, has been an independent consultant with the Guinea-Bissau National Civil Society Movement. He is versed in the English, French and Portuguese languages. In September 2014, Ella began working on the Guinea-Bissau Livelihood Initiative –GFI’s program in Guinea-Bissau – and he’s hoping to create a significant impact on the local populations’ livelihood.

Jean

Infamara Mane

Program Officer, Guinea-Bissau

Infamara Mane is natural born Bissau Guinean and he completed his primary, secondary, and higher education in The Republic of the Gambia at Malfa Primary school, Nusrat High school, and The National School of Forestry. He returned to Guinea-Bissau in 1990 and served as a junior staff member on Projecto Palmares under the Department of Forestry of Guinea-Bissau. In late 1993, he was appointed as an English Teacher in a High School in the Region of Cacheu in Guinea-Bissau. From 1994 to 1998 he continued teaching at the school and simultaneously contracted as secretary to the Taiwan Medical Mission in Canchungo in the Region of Cacheu. After the Guinea-Bissau Civil war of 1998/99 he was transferred to the capital city - Bissau - as English teacher at Liceu Nacional Kwame N’Krumah. In the year 2000, he was hired as an English and Basic Economics teacher at the Guinea-Bissau National School of Administration (CENFA), where he worked until 2008, when he returned to the Gambia and served as forest ranger until 2009 and was offered the opportunity to further his education at the National School of Forestry. He graduated with a degree in Forest Management and Land Conflict Resolution in 2011. Back in Guinea Bissau, he is presently appointed as Program Officer of the Global Fairness Initiative in Guinea-Bissau.

Recent Activities

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Feedback

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Retail Opportunity Training Initiative

Program Information


Program Supporter The Walmart Foundation
Implementing Partner: SEWA Ni Manager School (SMS)


The Challenge

Representing close to 20% of GDP, India's retail industry is the fifth largest in the world and the fastest growing in India, and it is expected to grow at double digit rates over the next decade. While retail, and many other sectors in the economy have grown rapidly, it remains that well over half of India’s working-age women are unemployed or under-employed. In both urban and rural locations throughout India women fall behind men in employment rates by as much as 50%, and the largest gaps are in the formal and organized sector of the job market. With fewer livelihood options, Indian women have experienced high rates of dependency and often remain in the lowest-skilled and lowest-paying jobs, mostly in the informal sector. There are many causes for this problem including high levels of illiteracy, lower primary school participation and graduation rates, and limited training opportunities on the skills necessary for success in the country's growth sectors. In addition to technical job skills, many women also lack fundamental "life skills" training centered on literacy, self-esteem, personal communication, basic financial management and other skills central to an empowered life and livelihood. Bridging this gap between available jobs and the fundamental hard and soft skill necessary to secure them is an essential step in addressing the challenge of underemployment of women and to building the confident, well-prepared workforce necessary to maximize the success of India’s growth sectors.

The Opportunity

With core support from the Walmart Foundation, the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) and the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) have launched a robust certificate-level training program aimed at delivering high-value, opportunity-driven instruction in retail sales and management to 36,000 women in India. The program is designed to prepare graduates for market-facing job opportunities, and build a foundation of key life and livelihood skills. ROTI trainings combine practical retail sales and management knowledge with the personal and professional life management skills essential for success in India’s competitive formal job market. The ROTI curriculum is designed in close collaboration with retailers and market stakeholders to ensure that the necessary hard and soft skills are well reflected, and it is rooted in GFI and SEWA’s training methodology that maximizes participation. Using highly accessible and interactive instruction aimed at building confidence and core skills, the ROTI courses will provide women the skills and opportunity to move from traditional low-skilled, low paying informal employment to stable, higher-skilled and higher-income jobs with real professional growth potential. The program is designed to bridge the opportunity gap between India’s underemployed women and the country’s fastest growing economic sector.

Program Leadership Team

Smita Bhatnagar, Director, SEWA’s Manager Ni School, India
Jennifer Marlay, ROTI Program Director

Recent Activities

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Feedback

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BeFair Campaign













The BeFair Campaign

The Global Fairness Initiative launched the BeFair Campaign with the goal of expanding the reach of green technology and meaningful economic development.

Each year the BeFair campaign works with a community that could benefit from access to innovation. We listen to what community members consider their greatest challenges and what can be done to help them work more efficiently to improve their livelihoods. Having identified the technology the community needs, we partner with a kindred company that produces and delivers it.

Through our work worldwide we have witnessed the power a simple technology has to transform lives. A clear example was our first campaign, born out of our work with salt farmers in Gujarat India. In the desert salt pans of the Great Rann of Kutch, there is no permanent infrastructure, including electricity. Thanks to contributions by hundreds of supporters GFI successfully purchased and delivered 6,500 solar-powered lanterns to salt farmers in January 2011, helping one of the poorest communities in the world save nearly $400,000 per year or $60 per family.

By contributing to the BeFair campaign you can make a difference each year and ensure that your contributions directly address the needs of the poorest communities throughout the world.

Introducing the 2015 Campaign: Access to Technology

Each year GFI renews a campaign that's all about Access. Access to opportunity - Access to rights - Access to investment; these are the basics of fairness and the roots of the BeFair Campaign. For 2015 our theme is Access to Technology and you can play your part by supporting one of a few simple technologies that significantly improve the lives and livelihoods of the families with whom we work. This year, we are focusing on four communities located in four different countries: Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, India, and Nepal. Each community represents a different group of stakeholders in one of GFI's programs around the world. In Guatemala and Guinea Bissau, participants in the Verapaz Action for Sustainable Agro-Industry (VASAI) program and the Guinea Bissau Livelihood Initiative (GBLI) will receive micro irrigation kits that will help smallholder farmers increase crop yields and profits in an environmentally sustainable way. In India and Nepal, participants in the Salt Workers Economic Empowerment Program (SWEEP) and the Better Brick Nepal (BBN) program will receive clean cook stoves that will help salt farmers and brick workers reduce energy costs and harmful indoor air pollution from traditional cook stoves. With a small investment of $25 you can help provide these innovative, low cost and environmentally conscious technologies to working poor families around the world and help them access the tools they need to break the cycle of poverty to improve their lives and environment around them.

Where will your impact be?

Navigate through the side menu and the map below to see who the BeFair campaign impacts, where they live and how you can help deliver innovative technology and meaningful economic development to those who need it most.


Contribute Today

BeFair Investments

Better Brick Nepal

Program Information


Program Supporter: Humanity United
Implementing Partners:
4 Nepali NGOs, GoodWeave International

The Challenge

With the booming population growth and urbanization in Nepal, construction ranked as the third largest economic sector in the country in 2006 and continues to grow. The high demand for building materials has fueled a demand for cheap labor and a lack of incentives for clean or socially responsible brick production. The estimated 200 brick factories in the Kathmandu Valley are also the primary source of pollution in the region.

Although work conditions are inhumane, the brick industry provides jobs to thousands of unskilled laborers. Over 175,000 workers, of whom as many as 60,000 are children, labor in unhealthy and unsafe conditions in Nepal’s brick kilns. Brick workers are some of the most marginalized of unskilled workers, often bonded by debt to exploitive labor brokers, and working at wages insufficient to pay off “recruiter” advances. The informal nature of the industry, which operates on the periphery of communities and with little government oversight, has served to entrench exploitive labor practices such as bonded and child labor. The sector is dominated by migrant and seasonal laborers who live on the kilns during the brick season and have almost no link to local government, community organizations, or representation by worker associations. Unrepresented, unregulated, and for the most part unwanted, brick kiln workers have seen little progress on social, economic, or human rights issues; but with few viable income alternatives they lack the leverage to improve their working conditions or pay.

The Opportunity

The goal of Better Brick Nepal (BBN) is to address labor and environmental challenges in the brick kiln industry. While previous programs have raised awareness of these issues, BBN aims to change the incentives within the industry. BBN seeks to create a market preference for a “better brick” such that buyers of these bricks – including international agencies, construction firms and end-consumers – are assured of more ethical and high quality production. At the same time, the kilns benefit from technical assistance and access to new high value markets.

BBN started in early 2014 by building relationships with five pilot kilns that are interested in furthering the aims of the project, creating a certifiable Standard on child labor, bonded labor and decent working conditions and developing plans for kilns to comply. Participating kilns will receive technical assistance to improve working conditions, boost production efficiency and raise product quality, as well as make linkages to potential markets. Over time, the goal is for kilns that meet the BBN Standard to achieve business benefits, and to foster needed changes in the brick industry as a whole.

The Better Brick Standard

The BBN Standard (developed with leadership from GoodWeave International)

Recent Activities

PBS News Hour profiles Better Brick - Nepal

Better Brick - Nepal featured in "Nepal's earthquake: A push to rebuild without child labor"

Better Brick - Nepal featured in "How Nepal is trying to solve its blood brick problem"

"Clean Kilns" article includes Better Brick - Nepal's efforts to create child labor-free kilns

GFI Signs MoU with Federation of Contractors' Associations of Nepal (FCAN)

Mapping

Map of Better Brick - Nepal Kilns

BBN Kiln Map

Registered Brick Kilns in Nepal

Connect with the Better Brick - Nepal Local Team

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Country Director, Nepal

Feedback

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Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative

Program Information

 Program Donor: The U.S. Department of State

 Implementing Partners: Partners for Democratic Change, The Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability


Facts from the TILI National Survey on Informal Workers

The Challenge

Despite having one of the highest per capita GDPs in the region and 5% growth over the past decade, Tunisia still suffers from high unemployment and an informal sector that represents 40% of the country’s workforce. In prolonged periods of unemployment, countries risk increased numbers of informal workers, stagnation, and long-term depression. Without tackling the problems inherent in informality, Tunisia cannot make long-lasting improvements to its economic situation.

Although employment programs through the Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment (MFPE) are providing skills training, internships, job placements, help in setting up small businesses, and allowances for voluntary public service, unemployment remains particularly problematic for women and young university graduates. In order to attract the businesses that will provide decent jobs for its skilled workforce and to create market opportunities for its less skilled workers to improve their livelihoods, Tunisia needs to establish a transparent system that expands registration and extends rights and protections to its entire workforce.

The Opportunity

The TILI program is rooted in the goals of the US government to help Tunisia increase stability and meet the most pressing social and economic challenges facing the country. By improving informal workers’ access to decent work and government protections, Tunisia can create a more inclusive legal and economic framework. Program objectives are to improve government’s ability to measure Tunisia’s informal sector in order to raise awareness of its contributions and conditions, including informal workers’ needs and incentives; to increase the capacity of informal workers and their representative organizations to advocate for their rights; and to increase government’s capacity to create mechanisms and policies that encourage formalization and improve services to informal workers. To achieve these objectives TILI engages stakeholders, managing delicate social and political environments to build trust and consensus, within a framework of activities and deliverables.

Program Accomplishments

Click here to review the TILI program's accomplishments.

Recent Activities

TILI Holds Kickoff Workshop on Informality to Begin Second Phase of Program

TILI Holds Conference in Tunis on Integrating the Informal Sector into the Formal Economy

GFI TILI Program Making Progress in Tunisia (Video)

GFI Holds Conference in Tunis on Integrating Informal Sector into the Formal Economy

In Review: Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative Accomplishments

GFI Releases Roadmap for Tunisian Leadership: Integrating the Informal Economy

GFI Leadership meet with Tunisian Labor Leaders

GFI Founder Karen Tramontano's article on Informality for the Council on Foreign Relations

GFI conducts TILI National Survey on Informal Workers

GFI Releases Report: Addressing Informality and Decent Work

GFI Founder, Karen Tramontano, and Board Chair, Dr. Danilo Turk, meet with Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail President Hassine Abbasi

Connect with the TILI Local Team

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Country Director, Tunisia

Feedback

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Fairness Award

The Annual Fairness Award Ceremony is held each Fall at the Howard Theater in Washington, DC. The award ceremony honors exceptional leaders whose work and life have opened opportunity and access for the working poor throughout the world. By honoring these outstanding individuals, GFI looks to inspire a new generation of leaders to dedicate themselves to economic justice, fairness, and equality.

2014 Fairness Award

  • Mr. Robert Zoellick - President of the World Bank (2007-2012): Honoree
  • Mr. Karl-Johan Persson - President and CEO of H&M: Honoree
  • Ms. Nani Zulminarni - Founder of PEKKA, Indonesia: Honoree
  • To learn about the 2014 Fairness Award and to view the full photograph slideshow visit the 2014 Fairness Award Website at www.fairnessaward.org


    2013 Fairness Award
  • Her Excellency Tarja Halonen - President of Finland (2000-2012): Honoree
  • Susan Berresford - President of the Ford Foundation (1996-2007): Honoree
  • Zeinab Al-Momani - President of Specific Union for Women Farmers in Jordan: Honoree
  • Thank you to all of our sponsors, guests and distinguished presenters and congratulations to the 2013 Fairness Award Honorees.

    2012 Fairness Award
  • Her Excellency Joyce Banda - President of the Republic of Malawi: Honoree
  • The Honorable Melanne Verveer - Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues: Honoree
  • Ms. Lucy Kanu - Founder, Idea Builders: Honoree
  • His Excellency José María Figueres - President of Costa Rica (1994-1998): Presenter
  • The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen - US Senator for New Hampshire: Presenter
  • The Honorable John Podesta - Chair, Center for American Progress: Presenter
  • Mr. Jim Vance - Anchor, Washington's News 4: Master of Ceremonies
  • 2011 Fairness Award
  • Ms. Albina Ruiz - Founder, Ciudad Saludable: Honoree
  • His Excellency José María Figueres Olsen - President of Costa Rica (1994-1998): Presenter
  • Ms. Maureen Bunyan - Anchor, ABC7/WJLA-TV: Mistress of Ceremonies
  • 2010 Fairness Award
  • Ms. Ela Bhatt - Founder, Self Employed Women's Association of India: Honoree
  • Honorable Hillary R. Clinton - Secretary of State of the United States (2009-2013): Presenter
  • Better Factories

    Program Information

    For poor nations highly dependent on textile and garment exports, the expiration of the textile quota system (the Multi-Fiber Agreement or MFA) had the potential to be devastating to their national economies. In Cambodia, the garment industry contributed to more than 80% of Cambodia's exports before the expiration of the MFA in December 2004. However, thanks to a successful multi-stakeholder agreement lead by GFI, Cambodia was able to develop a unique advantage in the post-quota environment: a labor rights verification system administered by the International Labor Organization that provides rights protection to Cambodians and brand security to buyers.

    The Challenge

    Can Cambodia’s success story be sustained as its preferential access to lucrative markets is eliminated? Can its approach to promoting business and labor interests be reproduced in other countries? 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. Joined by the European Commission, Australia AID, and the United Nations Development Program, in February 2005 we organized a 2-day conference of leading CEOs, government officials, and other trade and development experts to discuss Cambodia’s unique opportunities in the global marketplace. Hosted by the Royal Government of Cambodia, the conference highlighted Cambodia’s leadership potential in defining new best practices in global trade and investment, and the many reforms aimed at making Cambodia a premier destination for business.

    The Opportunity

    In July 2005, GFI collaborated with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Oxfam America to bring the discussion to American policymakers. More than 200 experts from government, industry, and civil society joined us for a wide-ranging discussion of the fate of textile workers and industries in the 21st century.

    In 2006, GFI began to extend its work on textiles to other regions of the world, focusing first on the countries participating in the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement. Our efforts to make the global economy work for poor producers is helping bridge the gap between Central American industry, labor, and government, thereby increasing the prospects of better lives for workers and healthier profits for industry (see our hand-out on the Central America Work Program).

    In 2006, GFI began to extend its work on textiles to other regions of the world, focusing first on the countries participating in the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement. Our efforts to make the global economy work for poor producers is helping bridge the gap between Central American industry, labor, and government, thereby increasing the prospects of better lives for workers and healthier profits for industry.

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

    Women Farmers with Global Potential



    Implementing Partner Self-Employed Women's Association

    Program Information

    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. Women represent the greatest potential for putting an end to the cycle of poverty; because of this GFI programs focus on improving business practices for peri-urban and rural women-run businesses so that they can increase profits.

    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.

    The Challenge

    Agriculture makes up to 60% of India’s economy. Although it comprises the vast majority of the economy, it only accounts for 19% of India’s GDP. To add to the pressures of rural workers, agricultural productivity has stagnated in recent years, resulting in a decline of farmer’s incomes. Concurrently, costs for fertilizer, seeds, land leases, and diesel continue to rise, trapping farmers in a vicious cycle of hard work with no security due to the instability of the agricultural markets.

    The majority of agricultural production is handled by women and adolescent girls. Farm work is even more demanding for women as women’s work is not traditionally recognized in policy making because, for the most part, their work remains within the informal sector, isn’t measured in real wages, and falls outside of market activity. Land rights also pose a problem for women; traditionally, land rights in India pass through a woman’s husband or to the eldest son. This also impedes their access to credit and collateral, leaving women marginalized from their local economy.

    How GFI Addressed the Challenge

    How GFI is Addressing the Challenge: Since 2008, GFI and its partners have worked hard to address the major issues facing women farmers where we are best to lend our expertise. In 2009, over 2,000 farmers received training in organic certification, business plan development, and precautionary measures to better face abrupt climate change. These trainings allow farmers to swiftly access information and address their most pressing concerns.

    The most notable achievement has been the creation of women-run Trade Facilitation Centers and later, thanks to its success, their extension to village level Trade Centers. Trade Facilitation Centers have allowed thousands of women to have a safe space to develop business plans, learn more about finance options, and discuss policy change. Of equal importance, it has given women a space to showcase their products to potential buyers and access higher paying markets.

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

    Salt Workers Economic Empowerment Program



    Implementing Partner Self-Employed Women's Association

    Program Information

    The Salt Workers Economic Empowerment Program (SWEEP) is a collaborative project of GFI and the Self Employed Workers Economic 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.

    The Challenge

    India is currently one of the largest producer of salt products in the world, employing close to a million salt workers across 9 states. The majority of salt farming in India is carried out in the Surendranager District, an area spanning 900 square miles which is completely flooded during the August/September Monsoon. From October to May, salt is “manufactured” from the natural brine deposited in wells of soft gravel, sand, clay, and mud and is “harvested” in a process that has changed very little over the centuries. “Agarias” are the small-producer family farmers that work the salt flats during the dry months and harvest salt for use in manufacturing and commercial processes or in a refined form as table salt.

    As with most harvesting and related agricultural work throughout the world, the majority of the production is handled by women and adolescent girls. More than even traditional agricultural labor, the process of “farming” salt is physically intensive and the working conditions on the sun baked and isolated salt pans is severe. Yet, out of tradition, circumstance or simply the lack of any other opportunity, women salt farmers toil in some of most marginalized conditions known on the globe.

    Since 1992 SEWA has been working with women salt farmers in the State of Gujarat; focused in the Surendranager District, they provide services including child care, literacy, nutrition, and health care classes. Over the years women in the salt farm communities have increasingly expressed to SEWA a desire to take greater ownership of the salt production process and to get out of the “middlemen” trap where control of the product value chain and profits are controlled by predatory transporters, sellers and processors. In response, SEWA has partnered with GFI to offer technical training to improve product value and production and SEWA has also organized women into savings groups so that investments could be made into direct ownership of production and distribution mechanisms. Additionally, partnerships have been created with research institutes to introduce processes such as reducing calcium sulphate from the sub soil brine to create higher value salt.

    While many of these steps offered needed progress and greater solidarity amongst the women salt farmers, breaking the underlying poverty and empowerment cycle remains a major barrier. Salt farmers continue to see potential profits poured into middleman services and despite improved product values, available markets have remained limited. Most significantly, however, women salt famers were held back by the exorbitant cost of diesel fuel. This is due to the unique process of producing salt which requires thousands of gallons of briny water to be pumped into salt pans by means of large diesel powered pumps. The cost of running these pumps represents nearly two-thirds of the total input cost of farming salt in the Surendranager pans and is the major economic barrier for women salt farmers in India. Remove this barrier and add improved market access and greater control of product value chains, and the result is meaningful livelihood development and economic empowerment for women salt farmers. With this goal in mind, the Global Fairness Initiative and SEWA are proposing the launch of a comprehensive Salt Farmers Economic Empowerment Program (SWEEP) in Gujarat.

    How GFI Addressed the Challenge

    Drawing on SEWA’s successful work with the Surendranagar’s women salt farmers, the SWEEP Project takes an important step forward by introducing environmentally sustainable energy technology to replace the existing diesel system and to create additional market opportunities and greater ownership of the production value-chain. The key underlying goal is to improve livelihoods and empower 30,000 woman farmers to own both the product and the production process of their salt businesses. Through SWEEP, salt farmers retain profits and increase livelihood opportunities by replacing expensive diesel fuel costs with renewable, locally owner power alternatives built around environmentally sustainable energy solutions deployed at a large. Introducing a local ownership model also allows salt communities to leverage surplus power production and realize additional profits from distribution of power through community based or modular utilities. Specifically, the excess energy obtained through a sustainable grid design creates an enabling environment for the development of sideline industries and enterprises.

    Additionally, SWEEP advances local ownership of production inputs (pumps, pans, etc.) and processes (refining, packaging, distribution, etc) to help women salt farmers avoid the costly and demeaning experience of working through predatory middlemen. This ownership is developed through a combination of realized profits and debt financing for targeted infrastructure and supply chain investments. In conjunction with the energy and infrastructure upgrades, a multi-stakeholder engagement process will be undertaken to open linkages to a larger set of end buyers and energy suppliers. This engagement process puts women farmers in direct contact with market players and in lead roles of addressing regulatory and financing barriers. Through this process, and the introduction of new technology, SWEEP taps the livelihood potential of more than 80,000 salt producers in the larger Surendranagar community and creates a diverse and sustainable foundation of economic opportunity and empowerment for women producers.

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    Verapaz Community Empowerment Program

    Program Information


    Program Supporter The Swedish Postcode Lottery



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

    VCEP worked with a community of 3,000 indigenous women and men employed in smallholder agricultural production. Close to 90% of the farmers are indigenous Q'eqchi' who have traditionally planted subsistence crops such as corn and beans. Although the available land is very fertile and capable of producing a wide variety of cash crops along with subsistence foods, when beginning the program, training and necessary market structures had not been adequately supported in the region. As such, the region suffered from a very high level of poverty and the related deprivations that economic marginalization creates. The communities had poor nutrition, limited access to healthcare, and most families couldn't support a child's education costs. Through VCEP, GFI targeted the interrelated barriers that contribute to the ongoing economic conditions in Alta Verapaz.

    Progress

    In the start-up phase and first quarter of the program, GFI and its program partner, International Development Enterprises (IDE), hosted drip irrigation and treadle pump demonstrations in two towns for over thirty participants. Affordable, user-friendly, and effective irrigation systems are one step towards establishing food security in the region. The drip irrigation system and corresponding trainings helps establish environmentally friendly water management in northeastern Guatemala. The drip irrigation systems, designed by IDE for farmers earning roughly $2 a day, were warmly received by community members, who recounted never having seen an irrigation system that takes such little effort, has extensive coverage, and is affordable. The deployment of this technology further served as a tool to build natural community leaders who took the responsibility to train other farmers and promote crop diversification for improved nutrition. Leadership trainings focused on program goals, a community engagement program, trainings in the methodologies of the stakeholder engagement process, and some technical input programming were also carried out during the first quarter of the program.

    GFI's next phase then lead to trainings on household management, savings and formalization of land, and commercial activities. Awareness training addressed labor rights, obstacles in formalizing businesses, and the role of government in promoting training and economic development. Throughout this process, the program identified leaders from within the community to participate in multi-stakeholder engagement, which successfully extended social safety nets to informal rural workers in Guatemala.

    Program Leadership Team

    Headquarters: Caleb Shreve – Executive Director
    Guatemala: Otto Navarro – Country Director

    Feedback

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    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.

    Engaging Stakeholders to Assess the Problem

    Beginning in 2008, GFI conducted national publicsurveyed stated that the lack of access to workers opinion surveys and focus groups on the social security was the worst aspect of informality. obstacles and barriers to formalization as well as on From the data assessment, GFI developed discussion ways to extend labor rights to the informal sector. In topics, which addressed the most pressing needs – Guatemala, the survey revealed that a significant while searching for consensus. These topics were percentage of informal workers (67%) are agreeable at national roundtables and also tied with discussed to registering and paying taxes if the processesdesign of a schedule of trainings for informal the are clear and workers gain access to government workers. services such as social security. In Nicaragua, 64% The national roundtables in each country focused on of strategies for formalization looking at various individual meetings, included government leaders, cross-cutting issues such as labor rights, women and informality, and labor union officials, civil society leaders, private sector vulnerable groups. The strategies included incentives – and informal workers. PILAR worked to representatives, for example, social security and better access to financial makers by building consensus among influence policy services and credit – to bring informal workers into the the private sector and civil society, finding government formal economy and improved government practices – allies, and working with multi-lateral organizations, such such as streamlining bureaucratic practices as the ILO, to cement policy recommendations under and improving tax collection. Participants of the roundtables, as well as of internationally-recognized standards.

    Focus on Workers

    To complement GFI’s top-down strategy, roundtables kept in direct connection with informal workers’ needs by providing bottom-up trainings on a wide range of topics, including computer skills, budgeting, complying with government requirements, accounting and financial management of microenterprises, assertiveness trainings for domestic workers, and more. In this manner, PILAR took a new approach to formalization: GFI assisted self-employed street vendors in setting up their own association (FENTRAVIG), which today has over 2,000 members. We further worked together to start a cooperative, allowing them to import goods and reduce costs by ending dependence on middlemen. Working directly with government, we encourage relationships with municipalities and help promote policies, currently in effect, to benefit workers and enterprises. Finally, PILAR encouraged workers to be part of the political system and bring their needs to the table in an effective manner.

    Roadmap to Formalization

    A tangible result of PILAR is the Roadmap to Formalization, a document that compiles the consensual recommendations of the many stakeholders. The Roadmap’s specific proposals are different in each country, as it is based on the cultural, political, and economic realities of the diverse sectors of workers and microenterprises as well as on each country’s laws. However, the core findings can be systematized: First, decent work is the Roadmap’s guiding principle. It was clear through the survey and national roundtables that improving competitiveness and extending labor rights is not mutually exclusive; in fact, formalization can serve as a tool to establish long- lasting businesses and attract sustainable investment. Second, one of the pillars of good governance is sound information; hence the roadmap focuses on improved labor statistics for the design of government programs. Taxation is also at the crux of formality. Informal workers and enterprises pay “taxes” in the form of bribes or other hidden costs, which through effective governance can be directly collected and used for improved government services. Finally, reducing administrative barriers is necessary to ease the entry of workers and enterprises, taking into consideration the high level of illiteracy and the importance of work hours for street workers. To start implementing integrative policy, the Roadmap recommends launching a simplified registration system called “monotributo.”

    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.

    Program Objectives: Bridging Supply and Funding through Innovation in Asset-Based Lending

    Bridging the Gap in Financial Expertise

    Using techniques of asset-based commercial finance, Synapse’s model improves access to business credit for small and growing agricultural enterprises in developing countries that are not well served by banks or by microfinance institutions.

    While bank products employing techniques of asset-based finance are available in many developing countries, they lack the capacity to serve Missing Middle borrowers. To close this capacity and access gap, Synapse partners with agricultural cooperatives, small and growing business, and equipment dealers in rural communities to transfer the technology of asset-based lending practices and provide necessary financing to key stakeholders.

    Bridging the Gap in Equipment Supply

    Through our work we have identified a need to involve and partner with US agricultural equipment manufacturers seeking financial models that would allow them to access new markets. As such, Synapse will leverage its political, trade, and commercial affiliations in the US and abroad to create and expand agricultural equipment sales channels to target areas.

    Bridge Loans and Working Capital

    Synapse will provide direct loans to cooperatives to increase working capital and streamline industries to facilitate larger and timelier stock purchases. These interventions help guarantee a market for producers of agricultural goods and ultimately reduce the overall risk of the portfolio.

    Social Impact and Assessment: Scalability, Sustainability, Impact

    Synapse is an impact investment vehicle that cultivates long-term financial relationships with scalable initiatives that strengthen the capacity of smallholder producers and entrepreneurs in rural communities. Candidates for funding in this model of “enterprise philanthropy” are measured by three fundamental criteria: scalability, sustainability, and social impact.

    Synapse is an impact investment vehicle that cultivates long-term financial relationships with scalable initiatives that strengthen the capacity of smallholder producers and entrepreneurs in rural communities. Candidates for funding in this model of “enterprise philanthropy” are measured by three fundamental criteria: scalability, sustainability, and social impact.

    Synapse has been working in Kenya for the last three years and has documented valuable information necessary to test and launch its Missing Middle financing concept at a meaningful scale. Proof of concept will begin with Kenyan and Ghanaian rural co-operatives and equipment dealers. In the initial stages, as milestones are reached, Synapse will access endowment and investor financing to scale up and expand programs in East Africa to Ethiopia and other areas, especially those that experience chronic food security issues and sectors that gainfully employ women. In later stages, such as when a sufficient track record in a given region has been established, Synapse will have demonstrated that the program model works: that is, bridging the gap between microcredit and commercial finance is a lucrative and viable space for mainstream financial institutions. Their entry will permit Synapse to unwind positions and recycle capital into more needy areas.

    Model: The Case for Asset-Based Financing in the Developing World

    While lack of familiarity with non-cash transactions and lack of know-how are important barriers, lack of working capital to provide transactional credit is the fundamental impediment to a growing business’s efforts to access additional capital. This is clear as, in the developing world, a business with a desire to sell on credit appears to have little to no source of capital for such an activity. Synapse believes that borrowers can be well served by an infrastructure of nonbank, lightly-regulated credit providers—accounts receivable factors, purchase order lenders, inventory lenders, and equipment leases, among others. In this manner, Synapse will address the absence of a secondary market for payment of claims that normally arises from credit sales but, in developing countries, creates absence of capital for transactional finance.

    In making a decision to extend financing, these external factors are more important to an asset-based commercial finance operation than the credit criteria -- including debt service capacity based on internal cash flow and balance sheet strength -- that are usually of concern to a commercial bank lender. Thus, asset-based financing can overcome obstacles that tend to inhibit capital flows, whether in traditional bank loans or equity investments.

    Required Resources: Funding

    To pilot the meaningful expansion of the Missing Middle financing concept, Synapse will require a total of $1,500,000 for agricultural equipment finance and an additional $300,000 for short-term working capital finance in each of its operating regions.

    Approach and Performance:

    This two-pronged approach addresses immediate capital equipment needs of farmers as well as chronic downstream market failures in markets for agricultural goods—thus reducing overall risk for each borrower and to the fund as a whole. The model indicates a return of principle in four years and, thereafter, an ROI that will appeal to commercial investors.

    Impact Investments: Synapse seeks to access funding for loan capital in three tranches: $1,800,000; $300,000; and $300,000 as regional operations are rolled out. As an integral part of proving the model to future commercial investors, Synapse will reward first round and impact investors with a ROI of 5-6%. Also required are setup, evaluation, and monitoring costs for the first two years of which we seek philanthropic allocations amounting to 300,000.** In summary, we are seeking a total of $2,700,000 to reach all targeted regions and to strengthen the economic engines of emerging markets in Africa.

    ** A portion of this philanthropic allocation will be funded as part of Synapse’s endowment.

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    Building Inclusive Shea Economies


    Implementing Partners:
    Pagsung, Ecoventures , Africa 2000 Network , International Development Enterprises , Concern Universal

    The Challenge

    In Ghana millions of women Shea nut pickers and processors register among the poorest of the poor. Despite being the primary collectors of Shea nut, women lack representation throughout the higher levels of the Shea value chain and are subject to exploitation by middlemen through a structured monopoly of the local and national markets.

    The Opportunity

    GFI has partnered with Pagsung, an association of over 800 Shea Nut pickers and producers, to implement Building Inclusive Shea Economies (ElSE) to strengthen harra's rural economy and help women farmers become self-sustaining by creating a women farmers-led business model. Designed in consultation with multiple local and international partners, ElSE responds to the concerns of Pagsung members about the lack of integration of the Shea Value Chain. To strengthen the overarching livelihood goals, ElSE addresses market diversification, supply chain management and ovmership, and decision-making mechanisms, thus ensuring women producers' rights (including equal employment and land ownership).

    On November 2010, the program received the SEED Award for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development, facilitated through the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The award provided a $5,000 start-up grant and several benefits to Pagsung members, including access to a wide range of business services, support networks, and high-level profiling. Capacity-building activities focused on improved management practices for Pagsung leaders, including establishing clear governance, accounting, and revenue structures to ensure management sustainability.

    GFI and Pagsung launched the South-South exchange as an opportunity for Pagsung to learn successful development strategies from GFI's partner, the Self Employed Women's Association of India. SEWA, through eight years of partnership and innovation, has seen significant advances in economic opportunity through greater value-chain ownership. SEWA's process offers a highly replicable model; and, thanks to a grant from the World Bank, the first exchange trip between GFI's partners Pagsung and SEWA became a reality in September 2011. Feedback from Pagsung indicates that the exchange was indeed a unique opportunity for the women to learn strategies for overcoming economic, legal, and cultural barriers and to develop practical business practices that adapt to women producers' needs.

    ElSE is now working to seek funds to scale up production. Pagsung does not have storage facilities or space for women to select and process the Shea. With women doing most of the work at home, there is no traceability of the product, which is of key importance for larger buyers. To help the Pagsung women become competitive in the local and inter-national markets, ElSE's goal is to work with Pagsung to establish Transparency, Traceability, and consistent Quality as core business practices, as well as support the registration of Shea as a Fair Trade product.

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    South-South Collaboration

    Program Information

    Implementing Partner: PagSung
    Implementing Partner: SEWA



    The India Ghana Women Farmers Partnership is a collaborative program that links women Shea nut pickers and processors from Ghana to the womanled RUDI MultiTrading Company in India to engage in a strategic program on opportunity, investment, and best practices in valuechain ownership of womenowned 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 sought 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 valuechain. The program economically empowered 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.

    The India-Ghana Women Farmers Partnership is premised on three fundamental principles:

    1. Women - especially poor small holder farmers - offer one of the greatest untapped potentials for promoting sustainable economic growth and food security.
    2. Broad and sustained poverty alleviation requires livelihood opportunities, improved access to markets, enabling policy environments, and resources to make proven models accessible to women small-holder enterprises in developing nations.
    3. Successful models from the South provide valuable learning and effective partners for other South countries.

    Creating Livelihood Opportunities

    GFI partnered with Ghana’s PagSung to identify targeted interventions and help create greater economic empowerment for women Shea nut pickers and processors through improved market access and valuechain ownership. The exchange of information, issues and opportunities that emerged ran a very similar course, and raised common themes to the issues and barriers faced by another GFI partner, SEWA of India. The process that SEWA has followed has the ability to offer a highly replicable model and as a result presents a clear opportunity for introducing an impactful South‐South exchange program between SEWA and PagSung. Recognizing the potential of this exchange, GFI introduced the idea of a South‐South capacity building collaboration with SEWA to Pag Sung, and the response was an enthusiastic approval of the idea.

    Under the collaboration, the women leaders of the RUDI Multi‐Trading Company would provide targeted knowledge and training inputs to Shea nut pickers and processors with the goal of creating a robust trade facilitation structure within the PagSung organization. The knowledge transfer partnership will seek to create greater ownership of the Shea value‐chain for the women of PagSung based on the model that has effectively created this ownership for the rural women farmers of RUDI in Northern India. The program:

    • Had women farmers from PagSung visit India to observe, learn, and adopt practices from SEWA’s RUDI trade facilitation centers, which consolidate product and processing, provide training and a safe space for collaboration and business development, and create a model of how the link between the network of producers and buyers served by RUDI is structured.
    • Had women farmers from SEWA visit Ghana to access the implementation of ideas exchanged in the first visit. Additionally, help locally guide the implementation and integration of a value chain that connects grass‐root producers with buyers and gives women ownership of their product.

    The Exchange: Applying the SEWA Model

    GFI has worked with SEWA, and its over one million women producers, since 2002 to create a wellestablished, highly impactful model on rural agriculture supply‐chains for women that have evolved into the private SEWA enterprise known as RUDI. RUDI has proven to help organize and empower women small farmers and producers to gain participation and ownership in the agricultural supply chain, increase income and livelihood opportunities among rural poor women, enhance the quality, capacity, and efficiency of production through the use of technology, information, and support, and have an achievable target of sales turnover from USD$ 1.2 million this year to USD$3 million by the end of 2012.

    Objective

    GFI, in partnership with SEWA and PagSung, sought to economically empower women Shea nut pickers and processors in Tamale, Ghana by improving production practices and product quality, helping access larger, sustainable markets, and providing business, financial, and supply chain training. Overall, the program:

    • Improved wages and generate employment by creating effective linkages to local, regional and international markets that provide sustainable livelihoods for women Shea nut farmers.
    • Engaged policy makers to provide greater support and access for women small holder Shea farmers.
    • Facilitated improved communication and more stable relationships across the Shea nut sector and with other sectors that will allow for better market knowledge and adaptation.
    • Increased food security for rural communities by improving inputs, providing technical support, and by creating more responsive markets through improved facilitation and communication.

    Program Activities

    The South‐South Collaboration: India‐Ghana Women Farmers Partnerships incorporated the following activities:

    • Learning exchange by PagSung to experience firsthand how the RUDI model is working. Focus will be on understanding the organizational structure, management systems, member involvement and benefits, outreach and incentives. As well as systems of accountability to members through the organization of general meetings, book‐keeping and ensuring the success of various product lines
    • Technical assistance from SEWA to organize, lead and empower women grassroots producers moving towards a greater voice, ownership and influence of the Shea value‐chain
    • Study of international best practices and local analysis by PagSung and SEWA towards improvement of collection, processing, packaging and transportation of Shea products
    • On site assessments by SEWA to monitor the implementation of the key elements learned in the primary visit
    • On‐going channels of communication for continued support

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    Promoting Informal Labor Rights (PILAR)

    Program Information


    Program Supporter The US Department of State

    Implementing Partners
    Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Humanísticos (INEH)
    Asociación de Investigacion y Estudios Sociales (ASIES)
    Poliarquía Consultores


    GFI implemented PILAR (Promoting Informal Labor Rights), a two-year project 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.

    Engaging Stakeholders to Assess the Problem

    Beginning in 2008, GFI conducted national public opinion surveys and focus groups on obstacles and barriers to formalization as well as on ways to extend labor rights to the informal sector. In Guatemala, the survey revealed that a significant percentage of informal workers (67%) are agreeable to registering and paying taxes if the processes are clear and workers gain access to government services such as social security. In Nicaragua, 64% of workers surveyed stated that the lack of access to social security was the worst aspect of informality. From the data assessment, GFI developed discussion topics, which addressed the most pressing needs - while searching for consensus. These topics were discussed at national roundtables and also tied with the design of a schedule of trainings for informal workers.

    The national roundtables in each country focused on strategies for formalization looking at cross-cutting issues such as labor rights, women and informality, and vulnerable groups. The strategies included incentives - for example, social security and better access to financial services and credit - to bring informal workers into the formal economy and improved government practices - such as streamlining bureaucratic practices and improving tax collection. Participants of the roundtables, as well as various individual meetings, included government leaders, labor union officials, civil society leaders, private sector representatives, and informal workers. PILAR worked to influence policy makers by building consensus among the private sector and civil society, finding government allies, and working with multi-lateral organizations, such as the ILO, to cement policy recommendations under internationally-recognized standards.

    Focus on Workers

    To complement GFI's top-down strategy, roundtables kept in direct connection with informal workers' needs by providing bottom-up trainings on a wide range of topics, including computer skills, budgeting, complying with government requirements, accounting and financial management of microenterprises, assertiveness trainings for domestic workers, and more. In this manner, PILAR took a new approach to formalization: GFI assisted self-employed street vendors in setting up their own association (FENTRAVIG), which today has over 2,000 members. We further worked together to start a cooperative, allowing them to import goods and reduce costs by ending dependence on middlemen. Working directly with government, we encouraged relationships with municipalities and helped promote policies, currently in effect, to benefit workers and enterprises. Finally, PILAR encouraged workers to be part of the political system and bring their needs to the table in an effective manner.

    A tangible result of PILAR is the Roadmap to Formalization, a document that compiles the consensual recommendations of the many stakeholders. The Roadmap's specific proposals are different in each country, as it is based on the cultural, political, and economic realities of the diverse sectors of workers and microenterprises as well as on each country's laws. However, the core findings can be systematizes: First, decent work is the Roadmap's guiding principle. It was clear through the survey and national roundtables that improving competitiveness and extending labor rights is not mutually exclusive; in fact, formalization can serve as a tool to establish long-lasting business and attract sustainable investment. Second, one of the pillars of good governance is sound information; hence the roadmap focuses on improved labor statistics for the design of government programs. Taxation is also at the crux of formality. Informal workers and enterprises pay "taxes" in the form of bribes or other hidden costs, which through effective governance can be directly collected and used for improved government services. Finally, reducing administrative barriers is necessary to ease the entry of workers and enterprises, taking into consideration the high level of illiteracy and the importance of work hours for street workers. To start implementing integrative policy, the Roadmap recommends launching a simplified registration system called "monotributo."

    This will allow workers to register with ease and pay a set fee, which gives them access to social security and other benefits of formalization. The roadmap was presented on October, 2010, at the National Palace in Guatemala City by GFI's President, Karen Tramontano to Mr. Edgar Rodriguez, Minister of Labor, who accepted it on behalf of the Guatemalan government. During the presentation, the Minister of Labor committed his government to work on the implementation of the recommendations, stressing the importance of the Roadmap as a tool for the design of effective public policies and requested the future assistance of GFI. In Nicaragua, Verónica Rojas, Vice Minister of Industry and Commerce (MIFIC), stressed the importance of the Roadmap's recommendations for reaching out to informal workers in a more effective manner and ensure the most successful application of the "One-Stop Window," for which GFI currently assists in it's outreach and dissemination strategy.

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    Growth Strategy in an Era of Free Trade

    For poor nations highly dependent on textile and garment exports, the 2005 expiration of the textile quota system (the Multi-Fiber Agreement or MFA) could potentially be devastating to their national economies. Nowhere is this fear more genuine than in Cambodia, whose economy is more dependent on textiles and garment manufacturing than any other in the world. However, unlike most textile producing countries, Cambodia has a unique advantage in the post-quota environment; a labor rights verification system administered by the International Labor Organization that provides rights protection to Cambodians and brand security to buyers.

    The Challenge

    Can Cambodia’s success story be sustained as its preferential access to lucrative markets is eliminated? Can its approach to promoting business and labor interests be reproduced in other countries?

    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. Joined by the European Commission, Australia AID, and the United Nations Development Program, in February 2005 we organized a 2-day conference of leading CEOs, government officials, and other trade and development experts to discuss Cambodia’s unique opportunities in the global marketplace. Hosted by the Royal Government of Cambodia, the conference highlighted Cambodia’s leadership potential in defining new best practices in global trade and investment, and the many reforms aimed at making Cambodia a premier destination for business.

    How GFI Addressed the Challenge

    In July 2005, GFI collaborated with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Oxfam America to bring the discussion to American policymakers. More than 200 experts from government, industry, and civil society joined us for a wide-ranging discussion of the fate of textile workers and industries in the 21st century.

    In 2006, GFI began to extend its work on textiles to other regions of the world, focusing first on the countries participating in the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement. Our efforts to make the global economy work for poor producers is helping bridge the gap between Central American industry, labor, and government, thereby increasing the prospects of better lives for workers and healthier profits for industry (see our hand-out on the Central America Work Program).

    Countries like Cambodia face several challenges in the post-MFA context. They must successfully convert its verification system to meet the needs of the private sector, rather than governments, and do it in a way that conveys transparent and credible information to the media and the activist community that has created and motivated the demand for brand security in the first place. They must also establish and maintain successful market niches for themselves and their industries. While premium buyers have sustained this movement until now, the key to long-term success lies in securing business from a wider array of buyers that may be interested not only in high-quality product from Cambodia, but also in their reputation-safe production environment. GFI and its partners will be there, every step of the way.

    Sustainable Forestry Program

    Program Information

    The Challenge

    More and more consumers worldwide insist on using sustainably harvested timber and responsibly produced wood products. Corporate buyers and public procurement officers are responding to this demand by sourcing products from producers that can provide them with certifications of properly managed forests, and for tighter scrutiny over the legal origin and production methods of wood products in the market place.

    Recently, the demand for certified wood products has begun to have an impact on policies aimed at protecting Indonesian forests, some of the most beautiful but least protected tropical hardwood forests in the world. Policy changes are designed to reduce the amount of lumber harvested, and—more importantly—to suppress illegal logging by strengthening law enforcement.

    How GFI Addressed the Challenge

    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.

    These recommendations are based on a comprehensive study of global best practices in supply-side incentives for sustainable forest practices. The Motivating Sustainability project study investigated winning—and losing—strategies currently being used in tropical and temperate forests throughout the developing world. Local forest experts then applied these findings to the complex and changing social, political and economic realities of the Indonesian forest sector.

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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..

    Securing a Prosperous Future in Azerbaijan

    Program Information

    The Challenge

    Rarely do the forces of globalization allow individual nations the chance to decide their respective economic destiny. Yet with the opening of the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline in May 2005, the people of Azerbaijan received a chance to mark their place in a competitive world.

    From its inception, the BTC Pipeline project was a lightning rod of public attention and criticism. Civil society groups worldwide questioned the willingness of energy companies to agree to equitable distribution of the benefits from using Azerbaijan’s abundant energy resources. Decades of political repression compelled others to conclude that Azerbaijani government officials would be the only people to benefit. Still others cited repeated examples where energy-rich countries failed to prosper from the presence of extractive industries. It was clear that an open discussion on how to correctly manage the process of integration could provide a timely intellectual underpinning for the Azerbaijani people as they move forward in making important choices about their future.

    How GFI Addressed the Challenge

    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.

    Through a series of meetings and conferences, the Azerbaijan Working Group engaged key stakeholders from various sectors and institutions to address Azerbaijan’s most pressing economic concerns in a comprehensive manner. Their work assessed the technical, economic, political and social aspects of Azerbaijan’s growth agenda. Guided by the intellectual output gained from these engagements, future Azerbaijan Working Group efforts will concentrate on the following areas:

    • Implementation of the State Oil Funds: Linking Pipeline Wealth to Local Development
    • Improving Azerbaijan’s Investment Climate: Transparency versus Corruption
    • Economic Alternatives for Azerbaijan: Developing the Non-Oil Economy
    • Azerbaijan and its Neighbors: Economic integration with Europe, Russia, and the Middle East

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

    Improving access to markets

    Coming soon

    Fairness in free trade

    In the modern global economy the greatest challenge developing countries face is to create fair opportunities for their people to access the benefits that globalization brings. As nations struggle to define fairness, GFI has led the way to broaden inclusion in the free trade process by extending economic opportunity to traditionally-excluded workforce stakeholders including women, the marginalized poor and informal sector workers. Engaging governments and large private interest holders GFI help worker communities tap into the opportunities created in a free trade environment.

    Modern, risk adverse markets are attracted to stability and counties that represent "best practices" of workforce standards and government commitment to social services and economic development become "darlings" of the globalized economy. Unfortunately, many limiting factors are prevalent in developing economies that seek to uphold high standards and compete in the global economy. In order to eliminate these barriers free trade must be closely aligned with both social services and capacity building investments to help developing countries meet the standard that foreign investors require. Further, foreign government assistance and multi-lateral investments must address core capacity issues and seek to align trade program with aid and capacity building initiatives so that developing economies can meet the goals and reap the rewards that trade agreements bring. To help achieve this goal, GFI's works with developing countries to attract meaningful and secure foreign investment by helping establishing high standard of social services, protections and environmentally sustainable practices. To ensure that these standards can be met and enforced, programs are designed around a multi-stakeholder process that seeks to build core capacity within government, the private sector and civil society.

    Building workforce capacity

    Sustainable economic development with a genuine and large scale impact requires the engagement of a well-trained and productive workforce. Organized labor and engaged workforce communities have always been a cornerstone of civil society and leaders in social equity and human rights movements. By engaging unions and other organized formal and informal worker groups, GFI seeks to expand the reach of our economic development initiatives and broaden the impact of social services in the countries where we work.

    Promoting labor rights and peaceful labor relations is important for attracting investments that create growth and improve livelihoods. Growing trends such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the importance of brand reputation means that multi-national companies now view decent working conditions and protection of local community rights as fundamental to the longer term sustainability of their operations. In Guatemala and El Salvador, GFI brought fair labor standards to the forefront of national agendas by leveraging bilateral trade agreement labor obligations and CSR interests. In bringing together such diverse actors as labor unions, international textile and apparel brands, and local private sector and government representatives, GFI helped pave the way for an unprecedented set of agreements that have created the basis for improved conditions and competitiveness in the textile and apparel industries.

    GFI also realizes that the majority of poor workers are not covered by national and international labor laws and standards. In fact, in most developing countries nearly all of the poor, almost 75%, work in the "informal sector" and most are women and girls. When developing countries cannot transition or integrate informal workers, economic growth remains low and poverty remains high. In Nicaragua and Guatemala GFI is working to extend social insurance programs and government services while simultaneously creating incentives for workers to formalize their businesses. In a unique model that includes government and private sector participants, this project is addressing the rights of the working poor to access equal economic opportunity.

    GFI's experiences have demonstrated the importance of workforce development for achieving tangible results such as improved working conditions, fair wages, empowered women, and increased market access. Whether in post-conflict Guatemala, or in the challenging political environment of Nicaragua, GFI creates the common linkages that bring Government, Private Sector and Workforce communities together to solve economic challenges and broadly impact poverty reduction goals.

    Investing in women producers

    Agricultural and textile production, carried out primarily by women, is the foundation of most developing country economies. In many developing economies as much as 80% of women are employed full or part time as small-scale producers in the agricultural sector and account for the majority of food security production for both their families and the communities where they live. Despite carrying such a heavy burden of the productive work, women are often marginalized to the informal sector of developing and even established economies where they find themselves ineligible for social services and social protections afforded the formal sector. The result is a deep cycle of poverty and social inequality experienced by women producers that keeps them isolated from mainstream capital markets and government social programs.

    At GFI we see a deep and sustained investment in women producers as one of the single most effective strategies to break the cycle of poverty in the developing world. Empowering women farmers and textile workers requires a multi-faceted, multi-stakeholder engagement process aimed at creating opportunities for improved input, access to credit, removal of institutional and supply chain barriers, access high-value markets and policy reform targeted at enabling women to sustain real economic growth and improve livelihoods.

    GFI brings a core set of tools to our programs aimed at improving livelihoods for women producers and we follow a process that targets barriers and creates opportunity through the following steps:


    1) Building Local Capacity

    The implementation of GFI programs is based on local input and agreement on design of the project. Once a coalition and consensus are built we then tailor each activity according to our strength or engage key GFI partner to implement strategies outside of our expertise. Activities both target specific obstacles identified during the design phase as well as work cross-functionally on interrelated strategies. GFI uses a multi-stakeholder engagement to bring together a core group of local actors committed to advancing project goals and activities. The group will include actors such as producer and related business representatives, government officials and community leaders.


    2) Technical Assistance

    In collaboration with GFI partners and appropriate local organizations we develop a program for providing technical assistance on issues such as enhancing production, meeting industry quality and packaging requirements and the development of sales strategies. Private sector partners offer expertise and client networks to help construct more effective and profitable supply chains with a focus on the use of technical assistance overall to enhance production, quality, sales strategies, and supply chain management.

    Production

    Increasing the productivity of land and farming practices or textile production is one of the largest potential areas for gain in small producer communities. This can be done through higher quality inputs, improved land management and better use of technology. This may include the sustainable use of appropriate technologies such as fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides for agriculture or fabric, machinery and design for textiles. Local and international best practices are drawn upon and analyzed for their appropriateness for each situation.

    Quality

    To be competitive, producer groups must address issues of uniformity and quality guidelines demanded by global markets. This requires more uniform inputs of quality seeds or fabrics. Associated activities can include setting up community seed banks, agricultural information centers or design trainings for textile workers.

    Sales Strategy

    Smallholder textile and agricultural producers do not have the capacity to develop marketing campaigns to promote their products. GFI program participants benefit from improved market research and professional partnerships to create sales strategies and materials to ensure the competitiveness of the products in key markets.

    Supply Chain Management

    Limited storage capacity and difficult product transport remain two principle constraints in the supply chain for poor producers. Few small-holder producers have the physical space or knowledge of the necessary conditions for proper long-term preservation of such things as produce or other product inventory; in the case of agricultural products this can mean that they are forced to immediately sell their commodities during seasonal harvest periods when supplies are highest and prices are low. Improved storage capacity allows farmers to take advantage of lower supply periods when their products can earn a higher return.


    3) Market Analysis

    GFI market analysis strategies include a range of activities such as determining market demand and working with local officials to incentivize production of strategic products and promote coordination of rural distribution networks. This is done in parallel with multi-stakeholder activities that are helping producers to understand their role in the supply chain, as well as maximizing their leverage in local and global markets.


    4) Policy Evaluation

    It is clear that economic development projects do not operate in a policy vacuum. However, there is little to no formal representation of women small producers in policy-making processes. GFI and its Women's Trade and Finance Council (WTFC) work with local women's organizations to represent and raise the voice of women producers in national and international policy forums. The WTFC develops clear policy goals and an agenda to achieve them. The Wolfensohn Center for Development and the Brookings Institution, a recognized world leader in policy analysis, work directly with GFI and the WTFC to identify and prioritize the policy challenges being face by small producers. Counter-productive international policies are also examined and reform recommendations are developed and highlighted. Additionally, GFI works with local research organizations to help develop lessons and to build capacity. The overall goal is to improve policies that effect poor women producers throughout the developing world to inform a large educational campaign or support broader recommendations.

    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
    Events

    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:

    Azerbaijan
    Cambodia
    El Salvador
    Ghana
    Guatemala
    Guinea Bissau
    India
    Indonesia
    Kenya
    Latvia
    Mexico
    Nepal
    Nicaragua
    Tunisia
    Ukraine

    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

    AFRICA

    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


    LATIN AMERICA

    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

    ASIA

    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: The Banyan Tree Foundation


    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...


    EUROPE

    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...


    GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT AND NORTH AMERICA

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.