ECOM views its sustainability programs and farmer support as a source of competitive advantage. They are also a potentially important contributor to sustainable development and the achievement of public ambitions to address environmental and social issues through entrepreneurship at the farm level.
Inclusive business is central to ECOM’s sustainability work. That is, working in a way that creates shared value for smallholder farmers. ECOM facilitates their involvement in its programs, and in doing so, creates positive impact in the countries where it operates. ECOM’s sustainability work is challenging because of the numbers of farmers, and without an inclusive business strategy it would not be possible.
Consumers around the world and the companies that supply them with products are becoming more aware and conscientious. This trend represents ECOM’s biggest opportunity. Consumers may not be willing to pay more, but they are willing to give preference to brands that show they are doing the right thing. That goes a long way in directing the supply chain.
To build on this inclusive business model, several priorities are emerging internally within ECOM’s own management structure:
- Strengthening its internal management review cycle for certification;
- Improving and standardizing credit delivery systems; and
- Improving farmer data management systems.
Externally, with partners:
- Creating innovative partnerships to expand the reach of farmer training programs, especially in countries where farmers are poorly organized and difficult to reach directly; and
- Increasing ECOM’s ability to offer credit to farmers through innovative funding and risk sharing approaches.