original ethical eco-logical

Monday 24 May 2010, by Dimitrios Papageorgiou, Ewelina Murawska, Ilse Maria Ortiz, Teymour Dantec

5 inspired

a) The main facts about the activities of the company

IbuTrade is an online eco-friendly gift shop. They focus in a wide range of ecological products with exceptional quality. When anyone purchase at ibuTrade site they have the opportunity to get fair-trade products that ensures fair prices and well paid working conditions while contributing to the development of needed communities. They also follow ecological practices such as recycled, renewable and even organic resources. They also promote traditional skills of local producers who need support, methods that consume little energy and no chemicals are used.

Although not every single product can be strictly fair trade or eco-friendly they always try to. In this case there is always an explanation why that product should not be included to try to improve the production process.

Many producers and artisans have been recruited to provide original and tasty items. In order to turn into a certified company it is very important that they only buy raw from genuine fair trade organizations, where it is actually possible to witness producer?s business practices and where business information from producers is exchange in order to be aware of ethical credentials.

Products at ibuTrade are selected according to their originality, quality and ethics. The range of product comprises home decoration pieces, fashion accessories and even books. Both, the fair trade line and the green line might be a gift for other or even a little pleasure for oneself. Since it an online retailer and quite a new and small sized company, they also provided of free extra services such as postage, gift wrapping and writing on the gift tags.

Among these products they have bags made from recycled PVC museum advertising banners, wallets made from recycled bike inner tubes, lamps made from recycled polymer, hemp bags, organic baby products, alpaca scarves from Peru, silk scarves from Laos, and Australian indigenous jewellery where labour law guarantee fair trading.

b) The ethical challenges this company is addressing

The name of the company is by itself a message; ?ibu? meaning mother in Indonesian, the usage of this term aims to ?highlight the importance of Mother Nature; the Mother Spirit that smiles at adversity; the role of mothers in developing countries as well as in Australia; and the nurturing of unique skills to benefit those groups most marginalized by the modern global economy?. ibuTrade is still a small and new business but responds nonetheless to a certain shift in people?s expectations when they consume. The challenge of the firm is to provide fair trade and eco-friendly gifts and homeware in order to develop marginalized populations while answering to the demand of an increasing kind of customers; those who seek original and ethical products.

The company therefore is addressed to consumers that share similar values and beliefs. Accordingly to its mission, ethical trade is the foundation of the ibuTrade ethos. Thus, to respect their engagement, each and every product is created respecting fair trade principles. Fair trade is an alternative approach to international trade that isn?t able to help the most in need of development. ibuTrade is strictly engaged is fostering a fair trade environment with their producers in order to create real bilateral beneficial relationships.

Moreover, their focus on the handicraft sector isn?t without goal. Due to several factors, women are known to be more excluded from mainstream economies then men. Too often their responsibilities reside in the home where the handicrafts sector serves as a crucial source of income for women. Consequently, ibuTrade?s challenge is also to reach and possibly help countless marginalised women throughout the world, including indigenous women of Australia.

Besides, ibuTrade?s challenge is to be ?eco-logical?. This specific term is used to highlight the fact that for them it is the rational way to go. They only choose their producers knowing that they are creating products while minimizing the negative impacts production could have on the environment and those that live within it. The company believes that it is just logical to look out for our home, the Earth; as much in our daily lives as in business: we must value and respect what nature is able to provide us.

c) What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it.

The company was founded by a mother (Tracy) who was always looking to purchasing Fair-Trade and green products. The limited range and accessibility of them pushed Tracy to create a business where this type of products would be easily and readily available for consumers with similar ethos. Thus, the motive for which the company was created is an important point on characterizing this particular business as ethical. Moreover the fact that Tracy witnessed extreme poverty in a trip she did to Cambodia adds to the belief that the business is there to help and ameliorate communities in the developing countries.
Furthermore the company is not solely interested in Fair Trade products, but also in ecological and environmentally friendly ones. Typical examples would include the lamps made of the polymer sheet that is completely non-toxic and non-reactive while at the same time recycling in the factories these lamps are produced is of primary importance, or the SWAMISZ flip-flops (by producers in India) that are made of natural rubber from the sap of rubber trees, implying that to produce more, one needs further tree plantations.

Additionally ibutrade tries to avoid middlemen in the supply process, so the origin of every product can be traced and information on the production process is easier to collect. Transparency of producers in the company?s web page is an additional element that allows one to call the company ethical. Where ethical practices take place, one is not reluctant in hiding them, but to the contrary, there is incentive to promote them and make them transparent.

Finally another element of ibutrade?s ethical practices is the 5% of annual profits donation to selected charities.

d) The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

As the ibutrade is merely a start-up business a possible challenge would be to succeed to draw the attention of an ever increasing number of consumers.
Given ibutrade?s values, the company only attracts consumers that are in line with the ecological and Fair Trade ethos. Being ethical might sometimes come with a price, as in the case of ibutrade where many products are handcraft made from various skilful artisans. However there are probably still many consumers who do not prioritise ethical practices of a company for price. Not all consumers might want to pay this extra price that reflects the fair working conditions and the opportunities provided to undeveloped communities. This argument might constitute a possible challenge to the business, provided that the latter wants to grow further and further.

However, there is the counter-argument to this, that people become increasingly sensible to how companies operate, especially given all the stories one hears about business practices destroying the environment, abusing people, yielding injustice and inequalities. More people might eventually turn towards products from companies that are socially and environmentally ethical. Ibutrade?s and other Fair Trade companies?business model would then inspire other individuals to create similar enterprises and this in turn would yield further awareness in consumers? mind to look for the ?right? products to buy. In that aspect ibutrade appears to have potential in the future. Continuing with its ethical practices the company might encounter an increasing number of consumers? showing great appreciation for these efforts.



Location: Maleny (Australia, Qld)

Sector: homeware, fashion accessories, clothing, toys, books

Official website: http://www.ibutrade.com.au

Key figures:

The business is entirely run by Tracey Donehue, the owner of the company. However ibuTrade has a number of suppliers/producers from whom products are bought. All producers are selected on the basis of complying as closely as possible with the IFAT Fair Trade criteria.

Ibutrade?s Fair Trade producers and artisans are not only located in Ausrtralia but oversees as well such as in India, Peru, Laos, Sri Lanka, in the Nile Delta in Egypt, i.e. in many developing countries thereby contributing to the development of impoverished communities. They include among others:

- Lanka Kada (toys and gifts ? Sri Lanka)
- BANG Consortium (socially and environmentally ethical shopping bags - Australia)
- Bholu (arts and designs - India)
- OckPopTok (quality textiles - Laos)
- Under the Nile (organic cotton - Egypt)
- Mainingrida Arts & Culture (jewellery from aboriginal artists - Australia)
- Better World Arts (art and design - Kashmir and Peru)
- Electric Firefly (stylish and environmentally friendly lamps - Australia)

By operating solely through the internet the company has worldwide operations, with Australian orders benefiting from free delivery.

No revenues and profit information available.

Nbr. visits: 326

Nbr. inspires: 5