African Handmade Shoes

African Handmade Shoes” is a start-up created by one young guy, Paul Burggraf, from Lugano in 2013.The company fairly employs thirty shoemakers from Cape Town, South Africa, to produce shoes (espadrilles) sold worldwide. It is an innovative project as well as a supportive business idea that creates a bridge between South Africa and Ticino, Switzerland.

The idea is very simple: producing handmade shoes in Africa and sell them online in Switzerland and worldwide. In addition, the project is characterized by an ethical attitude that provides fair wages and optimal operating conditions for the thirty artisans working in the Cape Town laboratory, differentiating it from other shoe manufacturers who exploit their workers through poor working conditions and with low wages. Nevertheless, “African Handmade Shoes” are fully aware of these problems and they are ready to make the difference.

In 2007, Paul Burggraf made his first of many trips to South Africa. Since then, he has fallen in love with South Africa – a colourful country, incredible, so full of potential.
The idea of “African Made Shoes” was born through meeting Arnold – a young South African craftsman who ran a small shoe shop. Paul was immediately interested and impressed by his work and his products. He realized there was serious potential for fashion export. Thus “African Handmade Shoes” was born.

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They started with a Facebook page collecting orders and received good feedback. They subsequently figured out the brilliance of their idea. They now have a thirty-man strong workshop in Cape Town, a website through which the product reaches around the world and a logistics base in Ticino: https://africanhandmadeshoes.com/.

The main sales channel is e-commerce, however, it is also possible to find temporary stores during festivals and events such as the “Locarno Film Festival” and so on. Currently there are a few stores in Ticino and Switzerland, it is even in the most prestigious Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich.

Transparency and fairness are very important; in spite of the few resources available,
social media has been key to make them known. Through these channels they have decided to completely document what was going on in the workshop of Cape Town. In short, the complete manufacturing process is documented for final consumers to see.
Pride in their craftsmanship, dignity and self-worth in their employees, respect for workers, earn a living wage, multicultural and happiness are values important for the brand. Workers are simply local people, they are friends and they are also neighbors.
Trusting workers is important to get maximum quality for the final product.
They have also helped to maintain a trade, that of the shoemaker, which globally is disappearing. Those who learn this profession with them can support themselves in the future. In the African social reality, in which education and apprenticeship training are lacking, giving people a future by learning a job is a huge added value.

Finally, they believe in African culture as well as the promotion and growth of the African economy. Therefore, the company is conducting a competition for local entrepreneurs called “Startaboom”: Three projects of local entrepreneurs are presented on the website of “African Handmade Shoes”. The public chooses what business will get financial support by voting on the website. The entrepreneur who receive the most votes will get the 10% of 2015 profit of “African Handmade Shoes” in order to help the project grow.

The success of “African handmade Shoes” is very simple: The colours and fabrics of these shoes make a product with a long cultural history, tradition known globally. Companies like these show us that business does not have to about profits only, but can be economically successful by helping to solve social problems and making people in Switzerland and South Africa proud of what they do.

Here a few links for more information:

Video presentation
Founder speech about local entrepreneurs (new start-up)
One of the three local entrepreneurs

Author: Riccardo Bonfitto, Master in International Business student, 2016

Good humour and collective intelligence – BSL Empowering Inclusion in Business

BSL was delighted to welcome a great group of professionals from the corporate world, women’s associations, and people with regards to the situation of inclusion and diversity in business. Professors Nadene Canning and Natalie Wilkins facilitated the event with the help of yours truly, Mary Mayenfisch.

The mood was good; the wish to work together in a constructive way was impressive.  The outcomes will become clear as we move towards a work world that is more inclusive. Governance, leadership and Talent management were the subjects treated as we felt that these issues lie at the heart of the problem.

We appreciated the presence of such an experienced group of people at our event, those of you who joined us on the beginning of this journey to educate and ensure a fairer workspace.

Many thanks to the “Advance Women in Swiss Business” organization- we appreciated your support and presence.

Watch this space – the journey has begun!

See more pictures of the event here.

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Author: Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, BCL, LL.M, Solicitor
marymayenfish

Enabling Inclusion in Business – Politicians and Business people need to talk!!

Getting ready for our Enabling inclusion in Business was a very interesting experience for me – it made me rethink the situation of women in business yet again!

Having been very involved in the area of women in politics in the Canton of Vaud for the last 10 months, you might like to have a  look at the initiative of the CLAFV (www.clafvd.ch) and ADF (www.adf-vaud.ch) where these 2 associations have worked together with the Bureau of Equality to encourage more women to go into Swiss politics (www.politiciennes.ch).

This interesting initiative made it very clear to me that there is very little contact between the women politicians I talk with regularly and the women in business in Switzerland today! And this is a big problem.

Have you seen the Economist gender gap index?  It is nothing short of horrifying. Switzerland performs very poorly in comparison with the OECD average and the 21 countries considered in this study.  One big problem is the cost of child care, over 40% of the revenue earned.  Is it worthwhile, one might ask to go back to work considering this high cost.

Looking forward to talking about this and lots more tomorrow in BSL.  Updates of that meeting to follow!

 

Author: Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, BCL, LL.M, Solicitor
marymayenfish

A learning agenda designed to Boost Diversity & Inclusion – May 10 at BSL, it’s a full house

Unless you have been stuck in a Swiss nuclear bunker for the last 5 years, you will have at some point during your daily social media fix, come across the term Gender Bias. Whether you’re a man who craves more family time with his children (but your boss raises an eye brow when you want to work from home because your kid is sick) or a woman who has her eye on the next VP role but your tendency to under value yourself gets in the way of applying – the power of gender bias (commonly known as stereotypes) is a root cause that prevents men and women from being able to bring their full and true selves to work.

Gender stereotyping can influence perceptions of leadership competencies and most talent management systems can reinforce and perpetuate bias that favors men over women. There are many stakeholders involved in talent management systems, from HR to senior leadership teams, and a Catalyst study carried out in 2009 showed that there are three key compounding effects:

  1. Imperfect execution. When talent management practices and programs interact, gaps between the design and execution can introduce gender bias, even to systems already sensitive to the problem.
  2. Checks and balances. Few companies employ effective checks and balances that mitigate gender bias in talent management and decrease gender gaps in senior leadership.
  3. Perpetual loops. The cyclical structure of talent management appears to reward attributes based on bias inherent in the system, creating a perpetual cycle in which men dominate senior leadership positions.

Even though this study was published nearly a decade ago, these effects are still very much alive and kicking.

We believe effective talent management strategies which boost diversity and inclusion in the workplace, power performance and generate competitive advantage.  This builds reputation for being a great place to work and ultimately, a healthier bottom line.

On May 10 2016, I will be helping facilitate a conversation on empowering inclusion in business at Business School Lausanne with 30 business and diversity thought leaders living and working in Switzerland.  This collective intelligence session will be the first step in crafting programs which unravel the challenges we all face in the workplace daily and empower inclusive business within organizations.

 

Author: Natalie Wilkins,  BSL Professor

The Global Compact Network Switzerland comes to Business School Lausanne

The Global Compact Network Switzerland (GCNS) Sharing and Learning Business Lunch took place at Business School Lausanne (BSL) on Monday, the 14th March, 2016. Ron Popper, Head of Corporate Responsibility, ABB and Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, Business School Lausanne (BSL), the initiator of the BSL Platform for Business and Human Rights, were the guest speakers at this lunch.

The event attracted a lot of companies, civil society organizations, government and academics due, perhaps,  to of the importance of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,(UNGPs) the Responsible Business Initiative and the National Action Plan (NAP), all under discussion at UN and Swiss government level currently.

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Mayenfisch-Tobin set the stage with an explanation of the UNGPs and she showed a film explaining how companies could think about the salient Human Rights that might impact their companies.” The world is changing”, she explained, “and business is being impacted globally by legislation that is coming from everywhere”. She cited several different laws including the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, 2012,  the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, 2016, the UK Modern Slavery Act, 2015, the Dodd Frank Act, 2010 and the EU Directive on Non-financial reporting, 2014. This plethora of legislation shows how quickly the world is changing and how important it is that business everywhere be aware of these changes..

The audience heard about the efforts here in BSL to educate responsible leaders and also heard how important this is not only for BSL but for the business world also.

Ron Popper talked about the importance of business carrying out its due diligence and of “getting it right” with regards to human rights.  He acknowledged the challenges of doing business in this globalized world and answered many questions from the audience, who were clearly very involved and concerned by the topic to hand.

A fascinating lunch, a concerned audience and a burning issue- all in all, a great event!

Many thanks go to the staff of the Global Compact Network Switzerland for organizing this important meeting.

Author: Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, BCL, LL.M, Solicitor
marymayenfish

 

Zara: It is time to detox!

The problem
Let’s talk about clothing. It is something essential, isn’t it? You could hate fashion and you would still need to buy and wear clothes. Who has not ever bought a piece of clothing from brands such as Nike, Adidas, Zara, H&M, Gap or Primark? Do you know that those clothes you have bought could contain toxic substances?

Indeed, yes, they might contain toxic substances. Substances that are thrown into the rivers close to the factories. The low prices that we usually pay for these clothes have an extra human cost paid by local citizens of the countries on where factories are settled. These chemicals are used to color clothes and have a huge impact on the environment and health through the whole supply chain. This happens because the chemicals are disposed into the rivers near the factories, but also when we buy and wash them, as the water used by the washing machine will drain polluted water to the environment.

The solution
Greenpeace was concerned with what it was happening with these chemicals and they launched a campaign called ‘Detox’ in 2011.

The first step was to do scientific research in order to be able to prove that they were right. They took small pieces of clothing from different brands from all over the world and analysed them in laboratories where they found out what different chemicals were inside these textiles.

Once they had the evidences, they started to put social pressure on the brands to join ‘Detox’.

If companies accepted to join the initiative to detox, several conditions had be fulfilled in order to become a detox leader:

  • They should have removed all the hazardous substances by 2020
  • Three fundamental principles should be followed:
    • Prevention and precaution: Taking precautionary action towards the elimination of dangerous chemicals.
    • Right to know: Total transparency between the brands and the consumers. Consumers have the right to know about the chemicals let off into their waterways.
    • Elimination: Eliminating those toxic substances and admitting that there are no environmentally safe levels for hazardous substances.

What happened with Zara?
Well, Zara was one of the first companies that Greenpeace started to attack. Why?

Zara belongs to the Inditex group, the biggest textile group in the world, and the usual strategy that Greenpeace adopts is to attack to the biggest prey, the one that can cause the biggest social impact. As soon as this prey is captured, the rest of the preys will tend to follow the biggest one. This is why Zara was the chosen as the first target of the campaign. Once Zara was convinced to join the Detox campaign, the rest of the brands were easier to convince.

How did they convince Zara to detox?
The only needed nine days of public pressure. Flash mobs, dressed in a very special way, made performances in front of the main boutiques of Zara all around the world. Social networks, bloggers and fashion lovers helped to increase public awareness about toxics in cloths.

Greenpeace also put a video clip on the topic in the social networks. This video imitates the style of a manga movie – a smart way to communicate to the young target group of Fast Fashion.

 

More brands involved in this campaign
After Zara accepted to detox, more brands started to join this campaign and others just did not want to follow this environmentally friendly change. This is why Greenpeace designed a special website in order to inform the consumer if the brands where they buy their clothes are detoxing or not.

Greenpeace distinguishes between three kinds of brands: detox leaders, green washers and detox losers. The first ones are the brands who are detoxing, the second ones are the brands that said they would detox but they are actually not doing anything and finally the third group is for the brands that have denied the propositions given by Greenpeace.

But, we can all be part of this, we can all chose to detox and buy clothes from the companies that take care of our environment and our health. It is also in our hands.

LET’S HELP THE WORLD, LETS DETOX!

Author: Miguel González López M.I.B. Student

Human Trafficking – let’s talk about it

Matt Friedman, CEO Mekong Club, an NGO based in Hong Kong, working to expose human trafficking crimes and address the issue globally came to Business School Lausanne last week. Matt gave the audience a riveting, heart breaking account of the situation the world finds itself in today, a situation that impacts the business world in unexpected ways. According to Mr Friedman there are over 36 million human beings who are trafficked all over the world, and of these over 23 million are in Asia, where a lot of businesses and supply chains operate today.  Human trafficking or modern day slavery- another term sometimes used to describe these terrible practices – is rife.

Human Trafficking Event at BSL

Matt told us about the women he had met who were sold into forced prostitution, about people working in garment factories or on fishing boats who are forced to work 7 days a week with no hope of escaping — the list was long and very sad.

Matt Friedman believes that slavery is a problem that business can solve; he is an international human trafficking expert with more than 25 years of experience as an activist, program designer, evaluator, and manager. From 2006 to 2012, Friedman was the Regional Project Manager of the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) in Thailand, an inter-agency coordinating body that links the United Nations system with governments and civil society groups in China, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Prior to this Friedman worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Thailand, Bangladesh and Nepal.

At a certain point in time Matt Friedman decided that he wanted to do more, to find ways of trying to raise awareness and find solutions to these problems and he founded the Mekong Club some years ago. With this organization Matt and his team heighten public awareness of human trafficking and forced labor, they work and engage with the private sector and find ways to help to end these practices..  He told us that the law is changing and he mentioned the Californian Supply Chain Act, the UK Modern Slavery Act and different EU legislation in place. Still a long way to go, but, thanks to Matt Friedman, the audience at BSL better understand the challenges the world is facing and, hopefully, will be part of solutions needed.

Listen to his Matt Friedman’s TEDX talk:

Author: Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, BCL, LL.M, Solicitor
marymayenfish

Fashion Revolution: Call to Action!

Since the Fashion Revolution Collaboratory on 7th October, we’ve been working away on different ideas. We’ve decided to kick-start the social media campaign next Friday 13th November. The aim of this is to:

  • Increase the number of followers of Fashion Revolution Suisse on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in order to get more critical mass for the big campaign next spring.
  • To increase our self-awareness and that of others when it comes to our clothing choices
  • To have fun!

What you have to do:

  • Take a selfie or a photo of an item of clothing
  • Post it on Twitter, Instagram or FB and use the following tags:
  • #fashfriday, #fashrev, #whomademyclothes and @Fash_Rev_Suisse for Instagram and @fash_RevSuisse for Twitter and @fashionrevolutionsuisse for Facebook
  • Comment on your photo – is it second hand, vintage, borrowed, upcycled. If you wear it a lot – #30wears  or comment on what it’s made from e.g. organic cotton, fair trade, wool, alpaca etc.

Feel free to encourage your friends to join in and let’s see if we can get Fashion Revolution Suisse around the world!

Fashion Revolution

Facebook.com/FashionRevolutionSuisse
Instagram: Fash_Rev_Suisse
Twitter @Fash_RevSuisse

Prof. Marina CurranAuthor: Marina Martin Curran PhD,
Professor at BSL

Fashion Revolution Collaboratory – Student Perspective

On October 7th, I had the pleasure of attending a collaboratory organized by BSL and Fashion Revolution Suisse. The conversation was led by Alke Boessiger from UNI Global Union, Angela Paulillo from Kering and Corinne Schmidt for the Green Party. Local fashion designers, students and leaders from Fashion Revolution Suisse were also present, which made for an enriching evening of conversations.

Fashion Revolution Collaboratory

The session began by recalling the Rana Plaza incident in Bangladesh and the involvement of UNI Global Union in ensuring human rights and worker safety is respected. The Bangladesh Accord is a legally binding agreement signed by over 190 apparel companies around the world. Retailers commit to ensure safety in garment factories, proper work conditions and adequate salaries for workers. There are 1531 factories under the accord that need to be inspected and remediated. To date, 1288 factories have been inspected and the majority are still in progress with their remediation plan.
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The BSL Platform for Business and Human Rights – On the Move!

BSL Forum 2015

I am delighted to announce an initiative that is very important for business schools and education everywhere. Last Saturday, Business School Lausanne encouraged by Mary Robinson, launched our Platform for Business and Human Rights here, here in Lausanne,  Switzerland.  What do we hope to achieve with this initiative, you might ask?

Leading the way forward
We would like to be an example for other business schools, law schools, engineering schools and other educational establishments to start thinking about how business and human rights fit together! How do we and how should we educate students to be ethical and responsible in today’s business world.

I believe that the first thing that needs to happen everywhere would be to ensure human rights training for all faculty, staff and students in educational organizations. As strange as it may seem, most people find it hard to articulate what human rights really are. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is something a lot of people have heard about but few people seem to have read or totally understood what it means. This needs to change!
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