We create structures for community ownership in retail brands. This gives some of the poorest people around the world economic equity in their own brand. To do this we have formed partnerships with some of the best organisations in the world to achieve our system-changing goal.

 

our Mission

We aspire to the goal that every low-income producer captures a commercial share of retail value from their products such as fine coffee; honey; tea and others. We want to transform the lives of hundreds of millions of disadvantaged communities in at least 20 different export sectors and for 6 indigenous groups, by applying our proven replicable business process.That is why our mission is to:

(a) support communities in developing countries to endeavour to increase the incomes of low-income groups and individuals through the participation in the company's group's commercial projects (the "Projects");

(b)  support sustainable production by the Projects having regard to conservation and the impact of production on the environment and communities;

(c)  facilitate the socially responsible management of funds invested in the company's group's projects, with due consideration given to social, investment and environmental returns; and, 

(d)  ensure that over 55% of profits will be reinvested in pursuit of the social mission, including the above purposes.


Current share of retail value

Using our approach


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A revolutionary model for large scale system change.

Unlike much development aid or Fair Trade, we don't focus on increasing supply which results in over-production and a drop in commodity prices. Instead we address the underlying issue of the terms of trade in which the negotiating power of foreign importers vastly exceeds that of export sectors. We link the income of low-income communities to the final retail price of their products not to the volatile commodity export price.

This model is not only socially impactful and highly replicable but it is also profitable. Most models in Impact Investment focus on adapting or innovating around the 2-5% of retail value - this model is not incremental fair trade but a social and finance model focused on redefining how the 95% of retail value is allocated.


who we work with

For us, there are three areas of opportunity to help some of the world’s poorest communities:

1. Producers of distinctive products                                   

Apply a business positioning approach to producers of distinctive products, to lift them out of the commodity market- there is the potential for over $100 million more to be generated per year for these communities. 

Our success using this process for Ethiopian Fine Coffee was globally recognised and can be replicated through wide-spread adoption across product sectors. 

See this process in action for high quality Shea through our work with Women’s Owned Nilotica Shea (WONS).

2. producers living in & neaR conservation Landscapes

Using the same business positioning approach, we will be able to pay incentives for conservation activities and sustainable production to producers living in the most endangered conservation areas around the world.

The incentives will also make sure the products are of a high quality to be positioned in retail markets under a conservation brand. 

We have partnered with WWF to create Conservation Stewards Global

 

3. Indigenous Peoples right to respect for their cultural brand       

Apply IP strategies such as trademarks and licenses – something that is regularly used in the private sector – to indigenous peoples as a sustainable solution to regain respect and recognition for their culture.

We want to show the world the power of respect. Many tribes are seeking to replicate the Maasai success to take back control of their cultural brand, defending themselves from companies who disrespect them by using their culture without permission.


 Funded by DFID, 2008

Funded by DFID, 2008

Our Method & Process

We use the process of business positioning; the commercial best practice of using ownership of retail brands for producers to control the supply chain all the way to retail stores. Business positioning changes power. We use business positioning to fundamentally shift the terms of trade, changing the negotiating power in favour of producers. 

Our process starts with identifying distinctive products to developed country consumers, possessing intangible value but treated as commodity goods, therefore able to sell for higher prices in retail markets. The team behind Position have conducted extensive research, feasibility studies and business plans for products across Africa, the Caribbean and Asia to prove the replicability of the process. 

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We secure brand ownership on behalf of the low-income stakeholders and can then exercise the control belonging to a retail brand owner. The power of a brand owner is used to determine a favourable supply chain for the producers and the business, and also position the distinctive product effectively in the market. The result is greater financial stability by leveraging producers to relate their income to retail value not fluctuating commodity prices.

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The additional income captured from the retail pricing or licensing is then structured into specific financial incentives to permanently increase income for low-income farmers and address a range of social and environmental issues. Incentives can be adapted to the different needs of the community; from resolving conflict between agriculture and conservation, to combating FGM practices.


By applying these business positioning techniques, export income can increase by an estimated $25 billion for distinctive product sectors in sub-Saharan Africa, and an estimated $28 billion in the rest of the world, totaling an addressable market of $53 billion.


The proof

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Our team has successfully implemented the business positioning process in four countries with five brands of distinctive export products over the past two decades; including the profitable stand-alone business, Divine Chocolate, and the Ethiopian Fine Coffee Initiative which increased export income by $101 million and doubled farmer income. 

Since 2002, the team behind Position have successfully enabled indigenous peoples to regain control and respect for their cultural brand. We designed a deal for the Guayaki tribe in Paraguay and Uruguay to license their name to Guayaki Inc, a US company selling Yerba Mate products. The deal allows for a share of gross retail sales to be paid to the Guayaki people, providing a means for community development which continues to be paid to this day. Our work with Maasai also demonstrates our continued success in protecting the IP rights of indigenous peoples. 


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Our new book, Social Entrepreneurship for Development: A Business Model by Routledge Press demonstrates the six-step method for creating business solutions for low-income farmers and producers for dramatically improved, sustainable income.  


Photography by Annie Spratt, Surya Prakosa