Membership Process

Prospective members:

If you or your organization are interested in becoming a WFTO Member, please follow the tabs below for information on the application process.

Types of Membership

 

WFTO has two stages in the membership process:

1. Provisional: An organization that has successfully applied for WFTO membership, paid the first fee but not yet completed the first monitoring cycle of the WFTO Guarantee System. These organizations have one year from their approval date as provisional to submit their SAR.

Provisional Members are not entitled to:

    1. Use the WFTO Logo or Product Label
    2. Serve on the Board
    3. Speak or vote at the Annual General Meeting

2. Full (or Guaranteed) Member: All the members that have completed the first cycle of monitoring requirements under the WFTO Guarantee System. This means that they have submitted the Profile and SAR and have undergone an audit as part of their first Monitoring Cycle.

From here, full registered members are divided into three types of membership

  1. Trading Organizations (FTO) – WFTO member organizations whose turnover comes from more than 50% of sales.
  2. Non Trading Organizations (NTO) – WFTO member organizations which are not involved in trading or whose trading activities do not exceed 50% of their income.
    • Fair Trade Network
    • Fair Trade Support Organization
Membership Category

Fair Trade Organizations – An organization that does Fair Trade trading activities. But to qualify for this category, a sale history must make up at least 50% of the total income.

Fair Trade Network – This is for a legally registered organization whose primary function is to serve as an association of Fair Trade Producers and/or Fair Trade Organizations.

Fair Trade Support Organizations – This is a Fair Trade organization in which trading is not the main activity, less than 50% of income is from trade. This organization supports and promotes Fair Trade through business counseling, finance, advocacy and networking, etc.

Associate Organization – An organization that is interested in supporting and promoting Fair Trade. Often times organizations that are too young to apply to be a FTO will fit into this category.

Individual Associate – Are you a researcher, writer, consultant or specialist in the field of Fair Trade? This category is for those who want to lend their experience and expertise to benefit WFTO’s members.

Initial Requirements

We welcome all organizations that are committed to Fair Trade to apply! But first you must be able to show the following:

  1. At least two years of registered existence
  2. A commitment to Fair Trade as expressed within the mission, vision and legal constitution.

Does that sound like your organization? Great! Next step will be to email the Sustainability Coordinator the following additional documents. These can be found on the first page of the WFTO Profile.

Applicants will be requested to submit electronically via email (no hard copies) the following documents for close assessment (and preferably in English):

  • A signed WFTO Code of practice
  • A copy of your constitution/byelaws/establishment date
  • A formal copy of the mission statement and vision.
  • The Annual Report
  • Financial Statement for the past two years (with the auditor’s stamp if a legal requirement)

We closely examine the organization’s mission statement to ensure that the organization has expressed a commitment to the 10 WFTO principles. This does not meant that we are explicitly looking for the words Fair Trade, rather that the “essence” of Fair Trade has been incorporated into at least part of the mission. Overall, the organization should have a mission statement that has the organization working to create opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers. We like to look at this to understand the “heart” and drive of the organization.

The Profile

The profile is the first document that must be submitted electronically for your organization to apply. You may find the latest version on the WFTO webpage. Renewing members need to submit the Profile every two years with their SAR.

The Profile is a way to introduce yourself to WFTO by explaining how Fair Trade is embedded in your organization, who you work with and what you do.

The Profile sections include: why you are becoming a member, referee nomination, and lastly details about your organization.

Key Aspects in the Profile include a detailed Organizational Chart, Internal Monitoring System, Producer Chart and a clearly written FOB.

HINT: Only provide information that you can prove as truthful. When an auditor comes to your organization you will have to prove everything that you wrote down.

Before feedback on the profile is given, we will proceed with contacting your three references, for a confidential response and ask for in country comments, plus an optional Network Reference if applicable to the country context.

References

The references are an integral part of the application process and help us better understand your work from the eyes of other organizations. Our office will contact them individually for a confidential response.

It is a requirement to have at least one WFTO organization listed as a reference, preferably from the applicant’s country. If you do not know any, that is fine! We encourage applicants to reach out to local WFTO members and invite them to visit your workspace. A list and contact details can be found here. The other references could be business partners, local NGOs or other Fair Trade organizations. Having reputable references helps to make a stronger “case” for your application.

Before listing an organization, you must have contacted the referee to ensure that they are willing to write a reference that supports your application. This usually depends on the type of past relationship you have had with them and how well they know your organization. Note that there should be no charges associated with the reference process. Three references should be listed on the last page of the profile. If the organization does not know you, the applicant, well enough they may not be able to give you a reference.

Next, after all of the information has been collected and analyzed we will email a regional recommendation to the regional board and then to the Global office to assess. Sometimes the whole process can take up to 3 months, but we usually aim for less than 6 weeks. The results will come directly from the Global office.

 

Existing members:

Below you will find information on applying to become a Guaranteed Member, routine membership processes, and other useful tidbits.

Guarantee System: Getting Started

The Guarantee System (GS) is based on a three-level monitoring system whereby members are required to fulfill the following monitoring procedures:

  1. Self Assessment Report (SAR) every 2 years.
  2. Monitoring Audit by an approved WFTO auditor every 2-6 years depending on WFTO risk category.
  3. Peer Visit by peers nominated by the member every 4 years.

If you are a renewing member and starting the process to become Guaranteed please download the latest Profile and Self Assessment Report from the member log in section (or contact our office requesting it).  Please make sure that it is the latest version before starting! You can find more detailed information below.

Guarantee System: Key Aspects of the SAR

Key aspects of the SAR include:

  • Section 1: Supplier Monitoring Form
    • Information about your suppliers/producers
      • Including when you last visited the group to monitor them
    • Self Assessment of your Internal Monitoring System
  • Section 2: Compliance Assessment Form
    • You will be asked to give a rating about your compliance with each of the criteria set out in the Standard. Many of these criteria questions are mandatory requirements for members to meet, either from the beginning or over a period of time. Other questions are continuous improvements – members will need to demonstrate their improvement on these points.
  • Sources of Information Section
    • All the internal documents referenced while writing the SAR should be annotated in this section. None of these documents should be sent in, unless requested. But all relevant organizational documents should be listed in this section for the peer and auditors to check.
  • Section 3: Improvement Plan
    • Each question in Section 1 and 2 that you self rated as Improvement (IMP) or Non Compliance (NC) should then be addressed in the improvement plan. This is where you can outline a feasible plan for your organization to reach the goal of meeting the standard.
  • Section 4: Peer Proposal
    • Ask and then nominate 2 to 4 individuals who would be able to come to your organization to carry out a peer visit. They can be from other FTOs (local, or from the same country or a regional network). The peer could also be from a local NGO. You should choose someone who understands Fair Trade and would be able to write a short report at the end of the visit in English (or Spanish).  The peer should not need to be paid beyond the cost of transport and accommodation if they and to stay the night.

After completing the entire Profile and SAR, please email these documents (and no other) to the regional Asia office for a round of feedback. After this, we will then submit the documents to the Global office.

Existing members that are non trading (usually this is Networks and/or Support Organizations) are required to electronically submit an updated profile every 2 years. However, if either FTN or FTSO wants to use the product label they must follow the requirements for trading members, which will include an updated SAR, too.

Guarantee System: Peer Visit

The peer visit is a participatory component of the Guarantee System (GS) monitoring requirements. The WFTO GS depends on the reputation of its members and so we all have a vested interest in helping each other to comply with the Fair Trade Principles and ensuring that non compliance is noted and corrected. Peer visits are intended to identify any issues and to help their peer achieve and improve. The goal is to have the peer visit be a mutual learning experience.

After the SAR has been accepted, you can arrange the peer visit. But this must be planned with the Global office. The Global office will then discuss with the peer the requirements and activities of the visit. They will receive the organization’s SAR, Profile and additional information if requested.

Ultimately, the peer visit is similar to the audit as the individual should check to see how the FTO is implementing Fair Trade on the ground. The Peer visit will include meeting with the FTO, reviewing records, interviews, production site visits, review of promotional materials, for example. A full guideline will be given to the Peer before their visit, plus a document to write a post visit report.

Peer visits costs should be covered by the hosting organizations, including accommodation, transportation and food. Costs can be kept lower by having a local organization do the visit or have the visit be in exchange with another member.

The peer visit is not mandatory during the first monitoring cycle, but they are highly recommended because they can make sure that you are well prepared for the first Audit.

Audits

* All information provided here on the audit is only a brief overview of the audit aspect of membership. For a better understand and all applicable information, please refer to the Handbook or contact the global office*

As the WFTO handbook states, every WFTO member is obliged to have a Monitoring audit at agreed intervals, with the exception of non trading members. The audits may alternate with Peer visits to result in the intended assessment frequency according to the member’s risk category.

WFTO trains and approves the auditors and then proposes 1-3 auditors to the FTO. The auditor will most likely be a local auditor. Scheduling the audit should be done in accordance with the WFTO Global office.

Audit costs depend on the size of the organization and other aspects. All associated audit fees will be covered by the FTO.

The audit will ensure that the FTO is operating against the WFTO Standard. Site visits to production sites of unverified suppliers and interviews will occur.

All existing and new members will need to have a successfully completed audit before having access to use the product label.

Fair Trade Accountability Watch

Fair Trade Accountability Watch

The Fair Trade Accountability Watch (FTAW) is a web based tool for ongoing feedback. Anyone, including the public, can access this tool via the below link and may write a confidential concern, issue or complaint against a registered WFTO member. The Global office will analyze any reports received from the FTAW. The organization concerned will have the opportunity to respond. Any “bona fide” concerns will be dealt with according to the WFTO complaints procedure.

Link: http://wfto.com/standard-and-guarantee-system/fair-trade-accountability-watch

Labels and Logos

Please note the difference between the logo and label.

WFTO Label

The WFTO Logo is only the symbol and can be used on marketing material such as stationary, catalogues and your website, but now with the products

The Product label is only applicable to those organizations that have completed the firstWFTO-Asia Guaranteed Label Example
round of the Guarantee System monitor requirements. This is because the GS has guaranteed the comliance of the member to the WFTO standard. The FTO may use the product label on those products that are made under their monitoring system.

The Product Label is always linked to the branding on the product. This label can be woven or on a swing tag. The full product label agreement and requirements will be sent to the member upon reaching this step.

First Buyer Label

If the buyer would like to sell the WFTO member’s product under the buyer’s brand, then buyer must follow the WFO First Buyer Label. Buyers will need to meet certain Fair Trade criteria in their relationships with the WFTO member. A small licensing fee based on the purchase order amount will apply, too. The contract will need to be renewed for every purchase order and the buyer will also be listed on the Fair Trade Accountability Watch. For further information and requirements, Guaranteed members may reach out to our office.

 

Have unanswered questions? Try checking our FAQ page.