Executive Director Christine Gent working with M. Bupathy of Shilpa Trust
Want to join WFTO? Here are some frequently asked questions.
If you’re looking for more information on the membership process, please follow this link.
What opportunities do you provide to people interested in Fair Trade but not connected to an organization?
Lots! We welcome individuals to join WFTO as associates via membership. An associate is a way for you to further enhance our network by offering your expertise and support to our members. For people wishing to learn more, WFTO often posts internship availability on their website. If you don’t see an opportunity but have a great way, let us know! We can try to place you with one of our members. Another opportunity is with the Friends of Fair Trade program, please visit this link to learn more.
How long does it take to become a member?
The length of the membership process depends on a couple of variables. If you fill out the profile entirely and with sufficient details, there will be less time spent on feedback. Additionally, it will speed the process along if you send all the required documents at the start of your application process. One of the main aspects that stall the process comes from the references stage. Please confirm with your references that you have listed them as someone who will write a recommendation, and encourage them to respond promptly. Lastly, it is the Global office that approves new members and their meeting schedule is based on monthly meetings. On average we aim for the entire new application process to take 6 weeks.
Do I have to be a member of the national country network first?
Not exactly, however we do highly encourage you to reach out and join your in country network. This is a great way to stay involved in Fair Trade nationally while gaining knowledge and support from their experiences. WFTO itself is a community and network, thus we encourage members to increase Fair Trade awareness collaboratively.
Is my English good enough to apply?
The forms are not an English test, no organization has failed for their grammar, it’s the facts that have to be accurate. Clear calculations showing how figures are arrived at, information that can be cross referenced and figures that can be audited against. Simple English and accurate replies to each question is what is needed.
Can I use a consultant to help me complete the membership application?
If you have the funds to use an outside consultant to write up the profile and SAR for you then this is acceptable. At the same time it’s essential that the responses to each question are unique to your own organization only and only you know what the information is and where to find it. Sometimes it take longer to tell a consultant than to write it down yourself. If you work with a consultant, make sure they are working with all the information from your organization and that as one by one the area of improvement are identified these are reflected in your improvement plan.
Is there any consultant provided or recommended that can assist applicants in achieving the 10 principles?
There are a couple of different options. One would be to reach out to the local WFTO community to have a conversation about best practices and the WFTO process. Alternatively, we can put you in touch with a couple of individuals that are experts in the Guarantee System, but it is most often requested that the trip be sponsored. Similarly, our office could be sponsored to visit and conduct workshops that would help you and other local organizations better understand compliance with the 10 FT Principles plus the WFTO Guarantee System.
What if I do not meet some of the mandatory application points but I am currently working towards meeting the requirements?
You must meet the mandatory requirements to some degree, the clear definition of what meets and what does not meet some of the criteria has not been set out yet, so if there is still work to be done then list them as IMP (improvement) and list in your improvement plan what you are doing how you are doing it, who will do it and and by when so that the issue is addressed. In two years time when your SAR is up for renewal these improvements will be monitored and you will need to have achieved them. For existing members non-compliance with these criteria constitutes major non- conformity and may lead to suspension of your organization.
As an applicant, how should I choose referee organizations?
Besides the ideal of having at least one reference from your own country that is a WFTO member (as discussed in the above FAQ), there are additional aspects to consider when finding a referee. Of the three referees you list, all of them must be aware and have confirmed to write a reference that will support your application. These referees need to agree that they will not only give a reference but that it will be a supportive one. This step should be taken before adding their name to the application. No costs should be associated with the reference process.
Why do I submit my documents to WFTO-Asia? Can I just send them to WFTO Global?
There is still membership of both WFTO-Asia and WFTO, but now they are aligned so members pay the fee to both organizations at one time. Technically, you can send the documents to either Global or WFTO-Asia first. However, WFTO-Asia has to look over the documents before it is accepted by Global. The two offices work closely together, so if you submit the documents to either of us it will be sent down to the appropriate channel. But, often it is quicker to send it straight to WFTO-Asia, especially for new applicants. (Note, that we only accept documents that are sent electronically via email or another form of online file transfer.)
Is an individual assessment of our factory sufficient? Or will our suppliers also need to be assessed to qualify?
Your factories will need to be monitored against the WFTO Core Fair Trade Principles (a slightly less demanding version of the WFTO 10 Fair Trade principles) through your own organization’s Internal Monitoring System. WFTO will ask how you ensure that this factory and producers are complying with Fair Trade, and your own monitoring visits and records will be examined. But your own organization will be checked as well. Raw Materials should come from a FT or a sustainable source where possible. The requirements are that you continuously improve and demonstrate that you apply ethical sourcing principles for raw materials, products and services you buy. This is not an initial mandatory point. If you are currently using FLO-cert suppliers, that is great! You can prove that it is FLO-cert with a certificate.
Why do you recommend that the references come from existing WFTO members?
WFTO is not an office in the Netherlands, Thailand or any other sort of office it is a network of its members, it is a network of dedicated Fair Trade Organizations. The members are the Board, the members develop the principles and approve any changes to the organization. They sit on the committees and develop the ideas and strategy of the organization as well as paying for its costs. There are many benefits from being a member but the main one is that you are joining a network and with the collaboration of other members things can be achieved which are not possible on your own. In order to gain the benefits, your organization will need to network with other members, so start now, and if you don’t want to network with other members then question is this the right organization to join. In many countries there is a national Fair Trade network that includes WFTO members along with smaller less established Fair Trade groups. Joining a national network (where you can) enables you to meet other WFTO members and establish your organization as having aims in line with WFTO, here in Asia we recommend it as a sensible first step to joining WFTO.