Mind Our Business: Amplify the transformative power of sustainable and inclusive business models through EU external action
The European Union’s international partnerships, development cooperation, trade and economic diplomacy strategies all refer to the important role that the private sector, including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), plays in achieving sustainability and poverty reduction objectives. Yet something is missing. Size is not the only factor that differentiates one company from another. Currently these policies do not adequately take into account how a business shares its benefits, negotiates prices with suppliers, or includes stakeholder representatives in its decision-making and governance structures.
The report “Mind Our Business: Amplify the transformative power of sustainable and inclusive business models through EU external action,” co-authored by FTAO, CONCORD, Cooperatives Europe, makes the case for sustainable and inclusive businesses, such as Fair Trade Enterprises, as key qualitative partners for the EU in its the international aspects of enterprise policy and EU external action.
Sustainable and inclusive businesses are driven by a social and environmental mission underpinned by values, incorporated into the constitution and by laws of the company. This allows them to create, rather than capture, value. They are directed by participatory decision-making and inclusive governance, thereby shifting power to people who are often left out of business decisions affecting them, such as employees, small producers and artisans.
Providing enabling public policy environments for inclusive and sustainable business models is complementary to the agenda of mainstreaming sustainability and human rights by companies with conventional business models. Yet it goes beyond the call of reducing risks, to look at the business model itself- challenging the idea of what a business is and should be.