Sharing Certified (N.)
A system of trade where sharing profits is utilized to offset the lopsided distribution of capital between producers in lesser developed countries and sellers in the developed world. Incentives and rewards are used, rather than subsidies, to encourage producers to reach benchmarks in four program areas; improving labor conditions, sustainable agriculture,
protecting the environment, and quality control.
Sharing Certified Overview
The concept of a “Sharing Certified” system of direct commerce between green coffee producers and coffee roasters was created in the spirit of building win-win relationships between farmers in lesser developed countries, and marketers of roasted specialty coffees in more economically developed countries; where the products are sold at a premium.
Sharing Certified as a system addresses the shortcomings of other Corporate Social Responsibility programs in that it is driven by incentives and rewards rather than subsidies, its goals are specific and its achievements are measurable, and its programs, progress, and results are transparent and audited by an independent third party.
Burke Brands LLC Sharing Certified program is intended to have a swift and profound effect on the economies, ecologies, and overall psychology in the communities where Burke Brands LLC coffee is grown. The creation of a framework for sharing a percentage of sales with growers, and in some cases others in the supply chain, when program benchmarks are reached in the areas of labor, sustainability, environment, and quality, could achieve significant mutually-beneficial results.
The key to Burke Brands LLC program is incentives and rewards, not charity or subsidies. Empowering growers and providing them with an incentive to help improve their own communities and protect their environment, and rewarding them for their achievements, is essential to the success of the program.
The Sharing Certified program provides the growers an unlimited potential for gain. Under the program they must be successful in reaching labor, sustainability, and environmental benchmarks, and they must also follow guidelines for producing better quality coffee; when they produce better quality coffee, the roaster/marketer and retailer is able to sell more coffee, and in-turn more money comes back to the growers to help them reach the next set of benchmarks. The Sharing Certified system offers growers a chance to participate in the free enterprise system as we know it in the US. It also gives them a dream, makes them work for it, and helps them succeed to the benefit of themselves, their families, their communities, and the environment.
The Sharing Certified system was developed organically. The founders of Burke Brands LLC recognized an opportunity to capitalize on their relationships in the coffee growing regions of Colombia, by offering higher than market prices for a better grade of coffee, and then offering a percentage of roasted coffee sales to the farmers if they agreed to, and invested the money in, implementing programs that seek to improve the following key areas of their operations:
1. Improving Labor Conditions
Improving labor conditions where coffee is grown is essential to improving peoples’ lives and their communities, and ensuring economic sustainability on the farm. Bringing standards up to consumer expectation also builds good will and increases sales of roasted coffee.
2. Sustainable Agriculture
Aside from the economic sustainability built into the overall Sharing Certified system, farmers would be accountable for and not receive profit sharing unless they followed a program that would ensure the future viability of their farms, and safeguard the surrounding environment.
Sustainable agriculture and protecting the environment go hand and hand, though the environmental programs of the Sharing Certified system would be developed as a process of on-going improvement and would seek innovative methods to strike the perfect balance between protecting the environment and ensuring the economic sustainability of the farm for all of its stakeholders.
Producing the highest quality green coffee will ensure that a premium is paid when it is roasted and sold, and as sales are increased as a result of improved quality, more money goes back to the farm to help reach the next set of benchmarks in the four program areas.
A “Living program”
The Burke Brands LLC Sharing Certified program is a living program that is dynamic. The program is intended to help growers reach small attainable goals in given periods of time, towards an ultimate goal (e.g. organic farming). The program was not created simply as window dressing to motivate socially conscious consumers to purchase roasted coffee manufacturers’ products, or to fit large retailers’ requirement to appear socially responsible. Sharing Certified does not provide incentives for, or encourage growers to seek unearned certifications for economic benefit. Rather, it is a transparent program that seeks to create ownership among consumers by sharing progress made by farmers toward specific goals. Burke Brands LLC believes large retailers would find this appealing as it eliminates potential erroneous certification issues that may lead to bad publicity and an erosion of consumer confidence.
Third Party Auditing
Though the Sharing Certified system is transparent, both value and legitimacy are added through the auditing of the system by an experienced, not for profit, third party that is independent and who’s purpose and core competency is to assess whether an organizations’ programs are being put into place and effectively executed in order to meet their stated objectives.
As the specialty coffee industry grows in more economically developed countries and premiums are being paid for quality roasted specialty coffee, there is an opportunity, and greater financial resources available, to empower those members of the supply chain that receive a disproportionate amount of money for their work.
The Sharing Certified system of direct trade between green coffee producers and marketers of roasted specialty coffees uses incentives and rewards to farmers rather than subsidies, in the spirit of win-win, to improve the lives of farmers and laborers, to ensure both economic and agricultural sustainability, to safeguard the environment, and to improve the quality of coffee grown at the point of origin.
A framework for measuring processes and results is essential, and transparency and auditing by an experienced, independent third party is necessary to add value and legitimacy.
The Sharing Certified program is a living program that uses transparency, and seeks to gain consumer confidence through sharing progress in reaching benchmarks in the four program areas. Burke Brands LLC believes this method is an attractive alternative for large retailers to avoid potential problems concerning erroneous certifications.
It is anticipated that the Burke Brands LLC Sharing Certified system will have a swift and profound effect on the lives of coffee farmers, laborers, their families, and their communities, as Burke Brands LLC full potential begins to be realized.