Here are a few of the questions we have been asked about NJaTC. Feel free to fire more questions at us and we will add the most useful ones here..
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GROUPS
What happens to the profits that each group makes?
This is entirely up to each group to decide. The only thing we ask is that each group stays true to the ethical principles that we work to and does not bring the name of NJaTC into disrepute. So - members of the group may choose to receive a ‘dividend’ or wages/expenses. Or, they may want to invest in the community. Or donate to a charity. Or purchase more stock. Or save the money for a later need or to grow the enterprise. Or any combination of these.
We have a group all ready to start... but don’t have the money to pay the registration fee. Help!
We have kept the group registration fee as low as we can and have given a great deal of thought to how much we charge. The fee covers the cost of the licence agreement, toolkit, website, use of the materials, logo and branding. It also includes a voucher towards the first order of stock. DON'T FORGET! In getting involved with NJaTC you are committing yourself to using your noodle! Enterprise goes a long way....There are many ways that you can raise funds; sponsored fundraising events, member contributions, sponsorship or 'in kind' help from local businesses or charities. Please get in touch with us for more information and advice. We can help advise you on this aspect of getting your group up and running! We will never let cost be a barrier to a group setting up - so get in touch if you get stuck.
I would like to be part of a group, how do I go about this?
Firstly, check the groups pages of the website to see if a group already exists where you live. If there is one - look at their information page to see what their aims are and whether you are interested in applying to join them. Each group page contains information on how to contact them if you are wondering about joining them. If you have any problems contacting a group or with the response you get, please contact our staff team.
'Applying to Join' an existing group! Isn't that a bit daunting?
Don't worry - this isn't a job interview! Each group is helped by NJaTC to set up their own systems for bringing newcomers in to join their group. Usually this will mean either putting something in an email to explain your interest in the group OR having a chat with some of the group members to see if you could work together well and have similar aims to that of the group. If you are at all worried about your ability to do this - DON'T WORRY! NJaTC does not want to exclude anyone if they lack writing or verbal skills.
Do you only support producers in developing countries? What about local producers?
We aim to support both local and overseas producers, but most of the producers we work with at the moment are in developing countries. This is because many of the products we have created to date have ingredients which only grow in developing countries – such as tea, coffee and cocoa beans for chocolate. NJaTC does not rule out developing any product which uses materials or produce from the UK - so long as it is ethically sourced and benefits the community.
Our group already has connections with a very poor overseas community. But they are not a producer group. Can we still use some of our profits to help them or do we have to link with a new group of people overseas?
Certainly. But you might like to talk to us further about more imaginative ways to support your friends overseas in order to help them to generate income themselves, rather than for them to become dependent on you for 'handouts' - no matter how generous and well-intentioned they are on your part!
Where can we get funding for our group?
See the section on finance in the toolkit. Sources of help and advice on funding - Funding Central: http://www.fundingcentral.org.uk/ . But a word of warning - before you start hunting for funding - make sure that your group aims, constitution and structure are fully agreed! You should also think about approaching local businesses in your area for sponsorship and support, you'd be surprised how many will be interested in helping a community enterprise initiative.
What support do we get from Not Just a Trading Company itself?
There are different levels of support you can get from Not Just a Trading Company. Your membership entitles you to full access to the website (with its forums, message boards, group pages) and to the toolkit. Networking meetings, seminars and visits from NJaTC programme managers may incur a cost for your group. Please get in touch for further information.
Do you only work with community groups? What about schools or colleges?
Absolutely. We now have a specific programme for schools or colleges that would like to set up an enterprise group. Just visit ourProgramme Page for schools
It would be amazing to develop a product. But how do we DO that?
Every group has the opportunity to pitch their ideas to us to create a new product to add to the NJ range. Groups must prepare a thought out plan which looks at the product itself, but also about pricing, supply-chain, packaging, marketing and so on. We will provide help and support and tips on how to do this and we encourage groups that have worked with us already on products to share their experiences with others.
It all sounds too good to be true. Aren't you lot making a packet out of all of this?
Not Just a Trading Company is a social enterprise which was set up by the Lorna Young Foundation - a registered education and development charity. All the income (and profit) that we generate goes into supporting our enterprise groups and our wider development projects.
QUESTIONS ABOUT NJaTC AND FAIR / ETHICAL TRADING
Why don’t all the NJaTC products carry that Fairtrade mark?
This is an important question. There is a LOT of confusion over 'Fairtrade' and 'Fair Trade'.
NJaTC is breaking new ground in trying to support consumers to think beyond certification schemes. We often remind others of the difference between 'Fairtrade' (a brand, a certification scheme - sometimes called 'The Mark') and the original philosophy which we aspire to - of 'fairly trading'. The world seems to be full of a mind-boggling number of ethical certification schemes. For example in the UK alone we have:Fairtrade, World Fair Trade Organisation, British Association of Fair trade Shops (BAFTS) , Ethical Trading Initiative code of practice, Global Reporting Initiative, Fairwear, Utz, Rainforest Alliance Certification, the Forestry Stewardship Council etc.
All of them do great stuff in terms of reassuring consumers and in setting standards. But they are expensive to maintain. And to a certain degree - act in competition with each other. Depending on the country, the organisational structure, market demand and the issues that producers need to address, there is often a preference for one scheme over another.
Some of our NJaTC products don’t always carry a certification label such as Fairtrade for a number of reasons, but usually, it will be because either we have agreed to source from a particular producer (such as Just Change Tea in India), which has chosen not to sign up to (and pay the fees of) a certification label scheme; or because, as a small organisation, we cannot afford the costs of certifying one of our products, even when it contains 100% Fair Trade ingredients.
So, being ‘Fairtrade’ certified is not the overriding aim for NJaTC products. We acknowledge the great work of that particular system but we prefer to use the term 'fairly traded' so that we are not actively excluding farmers and communities who ARE working ethically and who DO need help in order to reach overseas markets. Plus, we also want our products to go 'above and beyond' any certification scheme.
This means that we work hard to make sure that our supply chain is transparent and that it is as short (direct) as possible and that the NJaTC products benefit those at both ends – the producers and the groups selling the products; rather than middlemen who cream off the profit. Some of our products are Fairtrade certified, wherever appropriate, but we also try to challenge everyone involved – groups, customers, producers, to look beyond labels and badges. To ask questions and to find out about the origin of the products and our relationships with producers.
Sounds great - in theory. But as consumers, HOW can we know that products are traded fairly if they don't have a Fairtrade mark?
As we said in Q 14 - many fairly traded products do not carry the Fairtrade mark. They may carry other labels or have a separate scheme working on social and environmental issues. In any case, ANY company claiming an ethical stance should be able to justify what they are doing to improve the lives or workers and farmers in their supply chain!
The Fairtrade mark is the mark of the Fairtrade Foundation, an organisation based in the UK that runs a certification scheme. Farmers taking part in the scheme get an agreed minimum price for their products plus a social premium. It is an incredibly helpful scheme in this regard.
However, plenty of products DO exist that we would describe as being 'fairly traded' or 'ethically traded' that go even further than these standards - by ensuring that farmers get an even higher price than that which the Fairtrade scheme assures or that other ethical criteria are being met which have been chosen by the farmer as being of crucial importance to their community. It is also important to know that higher prices for producers are often driven by quality, rather than Fairtrade set standards. As with most things in life, the higher the quality of a product, often the higher the price that it can command.
Getting involved with NJaTC will certainly turn you into a more well-informed ethical consumer. From our side of things we try to do our best to explain (in layman’s terms) why the NJaTC products (with or without ‘the Mark’ etc) are ethical.
So are you saying that we shouldn't bother checking if products are 'Fairtrade' or 'Rainforest' certified - or whatever?
No. We aren't saying that. What we are saying is that like every other certification scheme in the world - ethical trading schemes also need to sell their products and to use 'branding' to win customer loyalty. NJaTC wants to remind people to 'look beyond badges' and take control of the supply chain by developing their own unique fairly traded products which they are confident are the best way of helping a producer group. By all means - ask questions!
What we are saying is this - don't blindly follow ANY kind of branding, marketing or certification scheme. So we don't pretend to know all of the answers and we DO want our ideas and assumptions to be constantly challenged. We believe that this is the only way to truly help communities both in the UK and in developing countries - as opposed to lining our own pockets or those of the existing structures within international trade.
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