Why Fair Trade Outsourcing is Dead
Difficulties with Outsourcing
At the age of twenty, I had a dream of building a small team of developers, in a developing country, that would deliver IT services according to the fair trade model; ensuring employees received a fair reward for their work.
We set up Web Essentials to provide services to web companies in Europe who would then sell on their services to their end customers. In other words, Web Essentials operated on a sub-contract basis, delivering technical services, whilst the Swiss organisations sold the services on to customers.
For the fair trade model to work, it is important to have transparency of the supply chain and this proved difficult to achieve. The European companies with whom we worked employed their own technical people and therefore there was considerable overlap of the work they did and the work of Web Essentials. Because of this blurring of responsibilities, the European companies were reluctant to highlight the involvement of Web Essentials to their customers. The result was that the fair trade objectives of Web Essentials was hidden from the customers.
Birth of a Personal Fair Trade Development Team
In 2013, during my longest break from Cambodia since 2008, I spent time in Switzerland looking for an organisation that was sympathetic to my idea of a sustainable team of technical people who were committed to satisfying customers' expectations with high quality work. I identified an organisation that agreed to handle the design work on behalf of their customers, leaving the technical execution to Web Essentials. Furthermore, they committed to keep their customers fully informed about Web Essentials' involvement. Because of the clear division of responsibilities between our two organisations and their commitment to transparency in regard to Web Essentials, it appeared to be an ideal partnership. Impersonal fair trade outsourcing was dead and a personal fair trade development team was born.
Over the past year, we have developed a five year strategic plan. As part of the plan, we reviewed how to gain new clients. Our aim is to establish partnerships with organisations that can provide all the services needed to complement the technical expertise of Web Essentials – partnerships in which Web Essentials is at the core.
To achieve this we decided we needed a physical presence in Switzerland.
We set a deadline of January 2016 to open an office in Switzerland, which seemed an ambitious target when I considered my daily business work load and the added complexities of doing business in a developing country. The idea of moving myself and my family to Switzerland caused me some anxiety and I began to question my own resolve.
However, I was encouraged by my team and by a consultant who we brought in to help with developing our strategy. He carefully analyzed Web Essentials and posed some difficult but vital questions that helped me to see more clearly the way ahead; questions such as: What practical benefits do I foresee in moving to Switzerland? Who will assume my responsibilities when I move? Would I be open to investment to help fund the new office? and many more.
Swiss Office Opening
Our new office in Switzerland is now up and running. We can see the potential for promoting fair trade development teams on a whole new level as we are able to meet with our customers face to face. We are better able to demonstrate as well as discuss our technical achievements and practical experience.
I am privileged to have a loyal team in Cambodia who have supported me throughout this transition and to have a capable and trustworthy successor in the person of Mary Lüthy-Hui to take over operations in Cambodia.
Although the move has been tricky, I am amazed at how it has all worked out and we are able to see great potential for the future.
Are you based in Europe and would you like to explore the benefits our fair trade software development could deliver to your organisation?
Explore how we can partner together and talk to us today at firstname.lastname@example.org