Resourcing and Fundamental Challenges
The Fairtrade team saw several challenges in the introduction of a networks approach. Working across rural areas, often with poor connectivity, has made this work particularly difficult during the Covid pandemic. We focused on how the team can engage their members in what are likely to be hybrid events and convenings, with a mix of face to face and virtual engagement for the foreseeable future. The team recognised that each connection between the team and a producer, each opportunity to bring stakeholders together offers an opportunity to build trust and deepen engagement. This in turn requires a new perspective on the skills required across the team for the facilitation of a networks approach.
We considered the business model behind these activities. Much of the work here, deepening trust, creating opportunities for engagement across stakeholders such that new collaborations emerge is invisible. Articulating this, quantifying this invisible work and identifying the time needed will make it easier to resource it through funding proposals.
How Do We Measure the Impact of the Engagement?
We shared IMM tools developed by Small Foundation, to create a feedback loop – what is working? where to focus attention? – enabling adjustment of the facilitation, engagement, convenings, and deepening of relationships over time. This reinforces and further builds the momentum of this vibrant network.
Shifts in Perspective – Adopting a Networks Mindset
The Fairtrade West Africa team’s commitment to this work, and to exploring new ways of thinking and engaging with their membership, led to progressive mindset shifts. We observed new perspectives, new thinking and ways of building on the experience that the team already had to co-create new ways forward. Importantly, each shift was met with immediate application of the learnings that emerged. We saw a ripple effect as these shifts become embedded in the practices of the network, moving an already vibrant network to the next level of impact.
We have deeply enjoyed working with the Fairtrade team, seeing them quickly implement and develop this approach. Whilst so much has been achieved in these early stages, we know the ripple effect will build and change over time. We are looking forward to keeping in touch with the team to see how this unfolds in the future.
Next week we will share the second podcast interview with Edward in which he shares his thoughts on the process and his experience of working with Creative Metier.
We would like to thank Small Foundation for their support for this research, Converge for their willingness to share their work which was one of the inspirations for this initiative, and the Fairtrade West Africa team who entered so enthusiastically into this work.