500 million people are living in extreme poverty because of trade isolation and exploitation. 

 

Farmers and producing communities are not positioning their products effectively, so corporates in the developed world are stealing their brand or copying the names of their products.

Just as French Champagne or Scotch Whisky would not allow another brand to use their name and product, low-income communities in developing countries deserve the right to protect their distinctive products.


Distinctive Goods: A Huge Market

There are many distinctive products in the developing world which are treated as commodities at source but as “premium goods” when branded to western consumers – where 97% of the retail value goes to importers and retailers.

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 12.24.58.png

100 million producers of distinctive products in sub- saharan africa 

These products include Ugandan vanilla, Ethiopian leather, Kenyan tea, Shea butter in Uganda & South Sudan and artisanal tuna in Senegal.

 

220 EXPORT SECTORS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA CURRENTLY EARN EXPORT INCOME OF ABOUT $2.9 BILLION OUT OF TOTAL RETAIL VALUE OF $100 BILLION.


Extreme Trade Isolation

The further you are from a port, the less likely as a community you can compete on the narrow and volatile margins of a commodity price. Trade isolation dramatically weakens farmers and exporters negotiating power. After the cost of transportation, farmers income is often less than $1 per kg.

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 12.39.19.png

They are stuck in a low-wage, commodity priced cycle of poverty.

Commodity price trends for bananas, cocoa, coco oil, coffee, copra, cotton, maize, oranges, palm oil, rice, rubber, soybean, sugar, tea, wheat (1990 as base year, 100%)


cultural approriation

There are 370 million indigenous people globally, most of whom have not taken control of their cultural brand, which is used without their permission, often in disrespectful ways and without compensation on commercial terms. 

30% of the world’s poorest people are indigenous people, although they make up just 6% of the global population.

 Maasai men study runway photos of the Louis Vuitton 2012 spring/summer menswear collection

Maasai men study runway photos of the Louis Vuitton 2012 spring/summer menswear collection


the impact on conservation 

Poverty aggravates conflicts between farmers and conservationists; farmers living on the edge of starvation cannot afford to carry out sustainable production and conservation practices. This leads to the destruction of local heritage and natural wildlife resources and in some cases it fuels the world's fourth largest illegal trade: animal trafficking. Not only is the African elephant expected to be extinct in the wild within 15 years because of habitat destruction and poaching, but the ivory trade also helps to fund international terrorism. 

A range of different non-profit conservation organisations have tried to engage these low-income producers in conservation and sustainable production; however, they’ve lacked a business method at the core of their solution and have therefore haven’t reached scale or financial sustainability.

levi-morsy-39107.jpg

A lasting solution is needed to transform the livelihoods of those living in extreme poverty.


Photography by Levi MorseyChinh Le Duc