slavefreetrade

Choose Freedom

Frequently Asked Questions


What is slavefreetrade?

slavefreetrade is a Swiss non-profit association. We aim to eliminate modern slavery behind the things we buy

Who runs slavefreetrade?

slavefreetrade is a membership-based non-profit association. The General Assembly runs the organization through their elected Executive Committee. The association has the usual office-bearers; President, Treasurer, and Secretary. There is one Founding Member of the association. External expertise on relevant subjects is brought in through an International Advisory Board.

What is the mission of slavefreetrade?

For decades, the work going into overturning modern slavery had left consumers and business out of the conversation. Both knew modern slavery existed behind the goods and services they buy and sell, but none had the means to do much about it.

Consumers understood it to be a problem. However, they were overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem, and given no concrete actions they could take that had meaningful impact. There was nothing on products on the shelves by which consumers could tell right there and then that slave-free or slave-made; they had no choice.

Business knew overwhelmingly it was there, but also lacked the means to root it out; supply chain visibility was very low. Existing models of testing supply chains for modern slavery were found far from being up to the task.

We address both of those things to render a world in which people can buy slave-free products, and business can bring them slave-free products. We make sure nobody is investing in modern slavery, supporting modern slavery, or growing modern slavery. To achieve all of this, we give voice to good consumers and organisations, let them stand against modern slavery in public and transparent ways.

Why help slavefreetrade?

We have an enormous job to do. All hands are required.

Consumers need to download our app, scan barcodes of products that are either labelled slave-free, or that they want slave-free so we can tell the makers. Consumers also need to talk about it; tell friends and family that for the first time in history it is possible to buy Christmas presents that have not hurt anyone in the making.

Businesses can sell to consumers with their head held high and proclaim nobody was hurt in the making. Sales of labelled goods jump more than 20%. For the first time, businesses can also find likeminded trading partners, building entire business networks impervious to modern slavery.

Legislative requirements around the world are designed to push business into a race for transparency; 1-cick compilation and submission of modern slavery statements take every business a long way to achieving that transparency on terms that only mean increased shareholder value.

Improving workplace conditions in supply chains - the human supply chain - strongly and positively flow on to improvements and new efficiencies in the value chain; every business in a clean chain profits from that simple fact.

Is slavery such a big problem nowadays?

We tend to not put numbers on the extent of slavery today because while it is a huge issue, it is also a hidden one. But organisations that do like to pin numbers on it say that 10s of millions of people are in conditions of modern slavery. Any way you look at it, there are many times more than the entire number of slaves traded across the 300-400 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Modern slavery is a non-legal umbrella term we use to encompass the four international law definitions of forced labour, child labour, slavery and servitude, and human trafficking.

Why is there slavery in the supply chain?

It is partly because nobody is looking. The bottom levels of a supply chain are far from the ultimate retailer and consumer. Darkness prevails at the bottom, and slavery permeates supply at that level; beyond proper oversight.

It is also partly because of complexity of supply chains; businesses lack the tools to engage and see the entire chain. It is also partly the Ali Baba effect; businesses no longer need to know who their suppliers are or build trusted relationships. Nobody can see what is going on behind someone else’s business.

Which products are most at risk of slavery in the supply chain?

Pretty much any primary product can emanate from slavery. To date, every exploration of a primary produce market – metals/minerals, gems, coffee, sugar, cocoa, bananas, cotton, tea, seafood, and much more – have discovered almost endemic modern slavery.

Products that are assembled or fabricated in developing countries can often be sites for modern slavery; poor working conditions, too low income, breaches of health and safety and discrimination.

How do you assess workplaces as being slave free?

We start what we call values alignment. Our mission demands good actors work together. So only good actors are invited into our platform only organisations that genuinely wish to be, and stand up to be counted, as slave-free. Values alignment is a detailed process that includes an audit of policies and procedures that an organization should have in place to work effectively against the incidence of slavery. The organization is also assisted to develop their own slavery risk assessment based on our join exploration of their supply chain. We bring into our platform every supplier to every organization. We bring into our platform every single worker in every single workplace.

And then we move into mapping the entire supply chain, every workplace, and every worker in the chain. We are thereafter in contact with every workplace and every worker directly in our platform.

The workers all around the world themselves are our primary source. Once a workplace is in our platform, we speak in real-time to workers on a continuing basis getting feedback on their conditions. It is not a snapshot in time, one day out of 2 years.

Slavefreetrade is real-time, all the time.

We do this for employees and employers alike and compare notes. Conditions in workplaces exist along a spectrum from modern slavery (red) at one end, and decent work (green) on the other. The aggregated responses from employees and employers tells us where on that spectrum a workplace I; and our algorithms determine whether that is a slave-free workplace or not. If yes, the organization is licenced slave-free. If not, we work together to make it so, largely by more intensive interaction and, potentially, technical assistance in workplaces.

What are the benefits of a Slave Free Product label?

The benefits are myriad. Besides the very obvious one that you are taking a stand against modern slavery with very impactful steps, the other benefits include passing onto consumers the information they want to help make their choices real. 2/3rds of consumers sat they would not buy products with slavery in them if they knew. And consumers are crying out to know. In our pretotyping, 100% of consumers would by the slave-free version of a product – like chocolate or coffee - if they could.

How long does it take to be assessed?

It varies completely from organization to organization, on the size of the workforce and the complexity of the supply chain. Our platform is designed to automate and scale the process; it all can happen very quickly if each actor at every level of the supply chain properly cues their suppliers to be ready and to act quickly. In our pilot, we have one retailer, one main producer, and more than 7500 smaller producers below that; it should be assessed in a matter of months. Some may take much longer; it is all a function of the cooperation of the organisations in the chain.

We don’t accept unwilling actors, we expect assessments of chains sooner rather than later in most cases.

It helps to think of the assessment process as an electrical current running from the bottom of a supply chain to the top. Each workplace along the chain acts like a switch on that current. If every workplace on the chain is ‘green’ they are switched ‘on’ and the current gets through to the products on the shelves.

Scanning the product on the shelf with the slavefreetrade app then shows the product to be slave-free. The phone app also shows pending and not slave-free conditions. Pending means we are still working on the chain. Not slave-free means we have not been able to, or have not been asked to, by the seller. Using our consumer application you can tell us if you want any particular product to be slave-free, and we tell the maker.

How do I know if a product is Slave Free?

A slave-free licence is granted to retailers for consumer-facing products that stem from a supply chain that is assessed clear from top to bottom.

With our app you can scan the bar code on a product and with just one look see if it is genuinely slave-free or not.

What effect can a single consumer have?

Until now, until slavefreetrade, there was not a single meaningful act a consumer could take that would have a direct impact on the issue of modern slavery, nor to be seen to take the right actions that are sure to change the way slavery occurs. With a single purchase of a slave-free product, the consumer impacts everything: they are directly rewarding the retailer for bringing things to them the way the consumer wants; not harming anyone. The retailer is rewarding suppliers who work ethically buy directing their demand to good businesses. The suppliers are rewarding their worksites employers and employees for banding together to make sure workplaces are free of slavery.

Consumers can also contribute more directly right at the bottom of the supply chain using our app, by tipping workers; you would be surprised what a difference a 10c tip can make when added up and given directly to the workers at, for example plantation level. The good consumer can change everything.

How do we know a business stays slave free?

Our platform monitors conditions constantly. Every employee of an organisation gets asked about their conditions. Every workplace in a chain is active in our platform. Monitoring is truly real-time and all the time. A business remains in our platform, their workplaces and supply chains being monitored, unless they actively choose to finish being slave-free.

With rapid developments in machine learning our platform is also adjusting as it grows. It truly learns to make our monitoring even more effective and, ultimately, predictive.

Annually, some jurisdictions require businesses over a certain size to lodge a modern slavery statement to explain what their slavery risk is, what policies and procedures they have in place to address it, and the things they are actually doing to weed out modern slavery from their business.

If that sounds familiar, it is because we told you above that these are the things businesses need to provide us as well. So, annually, an organisation on our platform can, with one click, compile and submit their modern slavery statement.

Not just ‘can’, though. We require it for all organisations of every size. It takes just one click, after all, so why wouldn’t you? This statement is a public record, so you can see exactly where every organisation is doing about being and staying slave-free.

Does the consumer app have every product in it?

No, unfortunately not. Slave-free products can only come from a completely assessed supply chain. So they are the result of extensive assessment and monitoring. And, remember, only the products of businesses that care about ethical production enter our platform.

So, in short, EVERY product can be scanned with our app. But NOT EVERY product is slave-free.

But every product CAN BE slave-free and feature in our consumer application. But not every business will bother. There is an old saying; to change the world we don’t need everyone. We don’t even need most people. We just need some. That ‘some’ is you.

If you have read this far, you mean business. You mean to do no harm when you shop. You want to take a stand against modern slavery and now, suddenly, it really is in your hands.

As the buyer, you are in charge of what is in and is not in our consumer app. You can scan the barcode of ANY product to see it status and, if it is not slave-free but you want it to be, you can tell us with a single click and we can tell the maker you want it.

"Is freedom anything else than the right to live as we wish?
Nothing else."

- Epictetus

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