Successfully employing trade as a supportive tool for developing countries requires empathy, understanding and a willingness to learn from your counterparts. Through our direct cooperation with local farmers, we at africrops! aim to serve as a role model for fair trade. In accordance with our slogan “fair trade in stead of aid”, africrops! pays for quality. We purposefully avoid giving out charity in order to avoid a ‘giver-taker’-dynamic. Instead farmers are pushed to produce a high-quality product, which allows them to stand on their own, rather than creating dependencies.
A key component in our philosophy is the determination of the price by the farmers. Through this measure we contribute towards an increased presence of products from developing countries, while creating a level of partnership on eye level.
africrops! is of the opinion that strengthening this form of trade is the only efficient way of developmental aid. We promote self-determination, which allows our partners to prove themselves in global markets and the global community with a high-quality product. By guaranteeing small-scale farmers a higher income, their living standards increase. An increased income means access to education and health facilities. How and even if our partners aim to ‘develop’ themselves is left entirely up to their own judgment. This way we help people help themselves.
africrops! is a global trade enterprise with developmental and socio-ethical goals. These goals are pursued through the direct import and distribution of agricultural goods from African countries. Our goals in particular are:
- Supporting different projects, cooperative approaches, communal producer groups and family businesses.
- Direct purchase and distribution of agricultural products
- Implementation of fair trade principles
- Long-term business relationships with our partners
- Sustainable promotion and strengthening of the farmers’ independent structures.
- Strengthening the farmers within their local markets
- Strengthening the value of local produce, whose traditional use has been undermined by “modern” foods
- Creating and increasing the income of small-scale farmers and trade partners
- Providing help for self-help to small-scale farmers
- Creation of job-opportunities within rural regions, to counteract rural-urban migration
- Consultation of small-scale farmers in cultivation-technical and entrepreneurial questions
- Support in the building and creation of cooperative approaches and projects
- Environmental conservation in our partner countries
- Creating awareness within the USA, Germany and other countries of the global north: We aim to sensitize towards- and increase awareness of the wider population towards the cultures and ways of living of the people in our African partner countries.
Fair trade is taken very seriously at africrops! and we abide by the following principles:
- The small-scale farmers determine their own price. If the price is too high and prevents us from finding buyers, we search for alternative solutions
- Long-term trade relations, therefore giving small-scale farmers security in terms of income and job safety
- On average we pre-finance purchases of trade commodities with 50%
- We do not give contractual penalties to our suppliers in the case of delivery delays
- We trade directly with the producers to avoid secondary traders and speculators
- No subsidies in the distribution of our products (no unsalaried work at africrops!). Such subsidies are not beneficial to creating a sustainable model
- Free consultation of small-scale farmers regarding cultivation and distribution
All small-scale farmers that africrops! works together with must abide to certain criteria, which are as follows:
- Organisational structure of the small-scale farmers (preferably a centrally organised network of farmers)
- We promote the strengthening and development of the farmers’ organisational structure
- Fair, local conditions that ensure a fair remuneration for small-scale farmers
- Acceptable working conditions (in this regard also no child labour)
- We help our partners help themselves and improve their living standards, but we do not dictate terms to them of how this should be done
- We support and promote the economic and social standing of women in their local communities
- All our suppliers must abide to the high ecological cultivation standards of africrops!
- Handcrafted production (no industrial style machine-based production)
- Only processing of locally produced harvests
Consultation of our Partners
For the development of our enterprise it is extremely important that we advise our partners in several entrepreneurial matters. This consultation is for free and marks an important contribution in the strengthening of our partnerships.
In particular we provide consultation in the following questions:
- Finding solutions in cultivation-technical questions
- Improvement in the processing of the harvested material
- Advice and support in fulfilling africrops!’ ecological cultivation, harvesting and processing standards
- Quality improvement of products
- Support in the diversification of the product range
- Development of new products and designs
- Marketing support for local, as well as export markets
- Implementation of training measures
The search and selection of new products has become one of the fundamental tasks of africrops! We are on a constant search for new products, which our suppliers can provide. In particular we search for products that are uniquely available in Africa, but not in western countries and were we feel Africa can take on a leading role for the future.
The most significant criteria in the selection of articles for africrops!’ product range are the following criteria:
- Marketability in the USA and Europe (products must prove themselves. We will not take up low quality, so called “pitty-products”)
- africrops! quality standards must be met for all products
- Environmentally friendly (cultivation and processing must abide by high ecological standards)
- Plants and products must be native to Africa
- Potential contribution of the product to local economic and social issues
In-country production & export
As purchaser and importer we make sure that increased export sales do not lead to an export-dependency amongst our partnering small-scale farmers.
The cultivation and production for export with our partners only takes place to an extent were no significant resources are withdrawn from local markets. Production therefore primarily takes place for local markets and only then for export.
We aim to constantly develop and implement new product ideas. Our experience has shown that the introduction of new products and product designs with our partners leads to an automatic increase in local sales.