Why do we share?
There are many ways to make trade fairer. Sharing is a very effective way of doing so. Sharing is a driver of radical systemic change and is also good for the economy.
In the fair-trade system, family farmers receive a minimum price, and their cooperatives receive a premium per kilogram of raw product. Importers, processors and supermarkets then decide on pricing and add a margin at each level. The prices of fair-trade products end up being quite high. But only a small part of the price goes to the family farmers – not because any of the parties involved are acting in bad faith, but because this is how the system is set up.
We're changing all of that by considering the retail chain as a whole. The family farmers receive 10 per cent of the price paid by our customers in the online shop. They receive this amount in addition to the usual organic and Fairtrade price.
That's because we don't think it's right if only shareholders profit in the end. Shareholders and investors are not the only ones contributing to the success of a company. Why should they profit from it the most?
How much do we share?
We introduced the gebana model in 2019. In 2021, sales of products under the gebana model already represented 44 per cent of our total revenue in the online shop. As a result, 3,824 family farmers in Burkina Faso, Togo and Greece had a higher income in 2021.
What does this mean for our family farmers?
We paid out €835,000 to family farmers in Burkina Faso, Togo and Greece in 2021. The amounts per family varied greatly depending on the country and the product.
In a direct comparison, the families in Togo fared the worst. This is because 90 per cent of their organic cocoa ends up with wholesalers and not in our online shop. Unfortunately, our wholesale customers are not yet participating in the gebana model. We're currently working on changing that.
On the other hand, our families in Greece received very high payouts. This is because we don't work with many families in Greece – there were 69 in 2021. In addition, citrus fruits from Greece are among our top-selling products, and this has a direct impact on revenue sharing.
What do family farmers do with the money?
We want to work with our family farmers as equal partners. That's why we share our revenue with them in the same way that we share our profits with our employees: without any conditions. They are entitled to the money, and we don't tell them what to do with it.
But that doesn't mean we aren't curious about what the families do with the money, so we ask them about it from time to time.
"I use the money to maintain and care for my trees. It's expensive." – Zoumana Traore from Samogohini, Burkina Faso.
"Last year, I had to take out a loan for my farm. I used two thirds of the money to pay off the loan." – Soley Djideal from Badou, Togo.
"I used the money to pay for my eye surgery, which I urgently needed." – Giorgos Gotsis from Prosymni, Greece.
How do family farmers benefit from the gebana model?
Wherever we are in direct contact with family farmers, they have already been included in the gebana model. But we want to go even further and introduce family farmers to the gebana model in as many other countries as possible through our partners.
The most important thing is that the local partner shares our values and is truly interested in helping improve the living conditions of producers. A partner must be able to prove that they are in direct contact with the producers. It's not enough for them to prove that they're in contact with a cooperative. If that were the case, we wouldn't be able to ensure that the family farmers actually receive the money paid out as part of the gebana model.
Partners must also be willing to work on jointly defined projects aimed at improving sustainability and increasing the impact of our efforts in line with our vision. This includes transparent communication and the prices paid by the partner to the producer.
If all the above criteria are met, an additional factor is considered, and that is whether we trust that the payment can be carried out correctly and transparently within the framework of the gebana model – via bank transfer or mobile payment – and whether our partner is acting in the interests of the family farmers.
What do we want to achieve in the future?
We're now focusing on developing and expanding the gebana model. Our aim is to increase the share of our total sales accounted for by the gebana model – currently 45 per cent – to about 60 per cent by 2025. This can only be achieved if we add more products to the model.
We are currently negotiating with our partners for dates from Tunisia, hazelnuts from Georgia, dried pineapple from Togo and mountain figs from Turkey. We'll keep you informed.
For our cocoa from Togo, we also want to bring wholesalers on board. Only then will we be able to increase the payouts in Togo, as 90 per cent of our cocoa is sold to wholesale customers.