What is a B Corp? And why is this important?
According to its website, bcorporation.net :
- B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.
- B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
- Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,600 Certified B Corps from 42 countries and over 120 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal:
To redefine success in business.
Individually, B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.
Collectively, B Corps lead a growing global movement of people using business as a force for good. Through the power of their collective voice, one day all companies will compete to be best for the world, and society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity for all.
*Info taken from the bcorporation.net website
1- How long have you been with Just Coffee?
Since Autumn 2003. I was a contractor at first, doing deliveries, but came on payroll in 2004.
2- What is something that you would like to share with the farmers who grow your coffee?
Besides the obvious “Thank you for your hard work,” and “I wouldn’t have my job without you,” I’d also add: “Greetings and solidarity from a fellow farmer!”
I’ve had the good fortune to have farmed “on the side” most of my adult life, producing vegetables and fruit on a small patch I inherited from my parents. And while farming part-time is a far different gig than producing a full-time income from it, I hope it keeps me somewhat in touch with the trials and hard work that are endemic to farming everywhere, and motivated to get more of our product-price back into the hands of the farmers who produce the coffee.
3- What do you think are some of the most important things about Just Coffee?
It’s hard to narrow down the list. But if I had to pick what’s most important to me, I would say it’s that Just Coffee remains very much a mission-driven business — “ethical and transparent” are still the words that top the list which we use to guide us in making business decisions. To me, transparency is a particularly important component of our business identity — it’s what hopefully allows the consumer to see that we are indeed acting with integrity and struggling to act ethically in the marketplace. And being transparent sets a good example, one that big corporations can’t follow since they don’t want to reveal how much they concentrate wealth. I wish more consumers would expect, and demand, transparency from businesses.
4- How do you define Fair Trade?
Broadly, I conceive of Fair Trade as a system of exchange in which equivalent work provides equivalent living standards (or at least equivalent purchasing power) no matter where in the world you labor or where your contribution fits into a product chain. Obviously, that remains a hugely challenging ideal, but one which we in the Fair Trade movement should constantly keep in view even though it may sometimes seem that the current market system allows us only to inch towards it. On a more practical level, I’d say that Fair Trade ensures that the consumer of a product pays a price which fully covers all associated costs borne by the participants in the product chain, with that value distributed as equitably as possible so that all involved may achieve a decent standard of living.
5- What information do you share with customers and your community about Fair Trade?
I like talking about the larger vision of Fair Trade, to challenge people’s assumptions about how prices are arrived at, what costs might be hidden in them, what costs may be externalized, about how and why wealth concentrates. Talking about these larger issues can sometimes help people to re-imagine the economy, to help clarify that it’s not necessarily the market system, per se, that’s a problem, but rather a sort of dishonest accounting that comes with capitalism’s “operating system” for the marketplace, one which has a tendency both to concentrate wealth and protect it.