The economic model of fair trade

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Founder and manager, Alter Eco

Seminar Social life | Thursday May 24, 2007 - 9h - 11h30

Having started his career in a prestigious French multinational, Tristan Lecomte decided to do somethingwhich gave more meaning to his work. Fair trade appealed to him and so he began by opening a small shop. This failed. He tried other ventures which were equally unsuccessful before he found the right solution when he created Alter Eco, a company specialising in the importation of fair trade products for volume retailing. Today, Alter Eco employs 45 people, it is present throughout the world and is steadily growing based on a persuasive economic model. However, some activists criticise Alter Eco's compromise of principle in using volume retailing which they believe to be partially responsible for the imbalance of trade between North and South and may also contribute to the impoverishment of small producers. But how can one possibly develop fair trade when one has no control of the distribution circuits which sell 80 % of everyday consumer products ? How can one change the system unless one does so from the inside ?

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