Supply Chain Innovation


The face of a female micro-producer.

Many companies have supply chains extending beyond factories to informal settings where accessories or embellishment processes are completed. People working in the informal sector – artisan clusters, home workers, micro-producers and marginalized communities – are particularly vulnerable given the unregulated nature of those workplaces. Companies do not always have the means or tools to monitor them, and are unaware of the social impact of their intervention on those groups. It is, however, widely recognized that responsible trade can substantially improve workers’ lives in remote areas and rural communities. Since 2010, FLA has worked with the International Trade Center’s (ITC) on its Ethical Fashion Program, which supports the development of marginalized communities of women in Kenya and Uganda, mostly groups of micro-producers based in poor rural and urban settings. The program enables disadvantaged African communities and their groups of informal manufacturers to become part of the global supply chain, thus developing their export capacities and strengthening their position in both the domestic and regional markets. The project is based on a joint effort of the ITC and Ethical Fashion Africa Ltd. (EFAL), which is based in Nairobi.

Click here to view the Ethical Fashion Africa project report.

Project Objectives: FLA’s FAIR-ART project helps companies to better understand the functioning of the informal workplace and offers innovative tools to monitor working conditions, remediate issues and risks, build capacity at the local level, and measure the social impact of their intervention in targeted clusters and communities.

Methodology and Tools:  The cultural and socio-demographic conditions in the informal sector call for a strategy based on socio-economic empowerment as opposed to auditing. FAIR-ART follows the FLA’s sustainable compliance methodology, which is an innovative approach that identifies the root causes of persistent and serious labor issues and risks and offers recommendations for overcoming them. FLA’s approach to strengthening social compliance and improving workers’ lives in informal settings involves five key elements: supply chain mapping and risk assessment; risk prioritization and standard-setting; participatory research; capacity building; and social impact assessment at the community level.

Download a fact sheet on FLA's FAIR-ART project here.