Good World Solutions: A New Use for Cell Phones

Guest blog from Heather Franzese, Director of Good World Solutions

11/30/2011 - 4:33 PM
Fair Trade USA is proud to introduce a new partnership with Good World Solutions. This innovative organization (formerly World of Good Development Organization) is working to increase transparency in global supply chains by giving workers a voice and giving buyers the information they need to source responsibly. Through our new partnership, we hope to reach and benefit more than a million workers around the world.

A New Use for Cell Phones

This guest blog post is from Heather Franzese, Director of Good World Solutions. You might know Heather form her ground-breaking work at Fair Trade USA as Senior Category Manager of Apparel and Linens.

Think about the shirt you’re wearing. Now imagine if you could communicate with the people who made it, directly through their mobile phones. Labor Link is making it possible.

In the last few years, cell phone penetration in the developing world has skyrocketed. Over 80% of people now have mobile phones. That means we can use mobile in a new way, to increase transparency in global supply chains.

I’m heading up the development of this new platform at Good World Solutions. Formerly World of Good Development Organization, our organization is best known for the Fair Wage Guide, a free tool used by over 900 companies in 81 countries to benefit over 30,000 artisans. The tool increases their bargaining power and users report, on average, 20% higher income from using it.

Our newest tool, Labor Link, uses mobile phones to survey workers about their working conditions, their livelihoods, and their job satisfaction. One benchmark we use as a base for survey questions is the Progress Out of Poverty Index (PPI) developed by the Grameen Foundation. A simple 10-question survey yields a “poverty score” that can be used to compare against peers in the same country or in other countries.

These are some of the questions we ask workers in Peru and India:

  1. What’s the highest level of education completed by the female head of household?
  2. What’s the main material of your household’s floors?
  3. What type of fuel is used for cooking in your household?
  4. How many people in your household are 17 years old or younger?

From their answers to these questions, we can track whether people are truly moving out of poverty. The tool has clear implications within Fair Trade. We can ask farmers and workers that make Fair Trade Certified™ products about their working conditions, their living conditions, and their community needs.

Beyond Fair Trade, the tool could be used to track health improvements from initiatives like the HER Project or to track women’s empowerment in initiatives like Coca-Cola’s 5 by 20. Social impact investors can use it to track the real impact of their investments. By giving voice to workers, we enable them to become agents of change in their own development.

Partnership with Fair Trade USA

Good World Solutions will work with Fair Trade USA to help double impact by 2015. We will develop technology solutions that monitor working conditions against Fair Trade standards, track social outcomes and livelihoods, and engage and empower Fair Trade farmers and workers.  The partnership will provide technology solutions to more than 1 million farmers and workers around the world.

Partnering with Good World Solutions is a natural next step in deepening our commitment to the millions of farmers and workers we serve. This technology opens new doors to enhance our monitoring and certification program, and to measure the real impact, helping us to accurately assess the relationship between Fair Trade and poverty alleviation.” -Todd Stark, Chief Operating Officer of Fair Trade USA

11/30/2011 - 4:33 PM
11/23/2011 - 11:08 AM