There are many ways to engage local businesses – here are some tips to try.
- Start with a survey to see the kind of businesses in your area and who already has Fairtrade. A directory of who stocks/serves Fairtrade products locally always helps as a good incentive to get more businesses on board. Later on you could link up with the tourist information office and include your directory in the official map of the community.
- Now you can start to approach businesses to talk about Fairtrade with them. Independent stores are great to target as you might see change more quickly. One great strategy that a few Fairtrade communities have engaged is linking up with local products. Fairtrade Zone Orkney has developed a ‘Buy Fair and Buy Local’ strategy engaging the local independent sector, including small rural outlets. See Orkney’s case study.
- You could organise a competition for businesses. For example, creating a window display with a Fairtrade theme or organising a crawl/treasure hunt/train visiting supporting businesses and finding out which Fairtrade products they stock/serve.
- Building relationships with umbrella business organisations that operate locally such as your local Business Improvement District or any other organisation which represents local businesses is another great way to get Fairtrade on the radar. You can use their networks and resources so local businesses get to hear about Fairtrade, your local efforts and support your campaigning. Through them you can reach out to businesses to join forces for larger events and more visibility/publicity for both sides. For example, the Business Improvement District management could encourage retail outlets to display ‘WE SUPPORT FAIRTRADE’ signage for those businesses that already stock or serve Fairtrade products.
- If the area has a healthy tourism industry, try to engage with this key industry to promote Fairtrade. In general, try to understand the particular business character of your area and see how Fairtrade links to it.
- Don’t forget to contact other businesses (not just retailers and cafes) which can stock and serve Fairtrade such as sports clubs and leisure centres, B&Bs, hotels, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres.
- Try to get a member of the business community to be on your steering group to offer insights and ideas on the best ways to engage with them.
- National chains can always be engaged by asking their support with providing samples/products that they stock already and recognising their support locally.
- You might not see immediate results but nevertheless showing businesses that their community cares about Fairtrade is important as this has brought changes historically and has increased the availability of Fairtrade products in stores across the country.