Conscious Trade Initiatives

Over the past three years, Yellow Seed has led initiatives and conversations towards a Conscious Trade supply chain. These include:

  • From the Ground Up Series: Collaborative Trade Accelerator

  • Impact Theme and Collaborative Story: Regenerative Cacao

  • Human-Based Impact Community Design

  • Community Role Co-Design: Ambassador Program


From the Ground UP Series: Collaborative Trade Accelerator (Now Conscious Trade)

“From the Ground Up”: Yellow Seed partnered with the Impact Hub Berkeley to create the “From the Ground Up” series, a four-part, year-long program that brings together multi-stakeholder organizations working in sustainable food and agriculture to collaborate on joint initiatives. The Change Accelerator combines dynamic innovation salons, public-facing education programs, and community building events to drive systemic change in the following areas: (1) Collaborative Trade, (2) Living Oceans, (3) Soil Health/Carbon Farming (4) Local Food Systems.

The Innovation Challenge: To design healthy, global food supply chains where farmers are treated as equal partners and like-minded organizations work together to accelerate the shift towards sustainability.

See here for more information about the Collaborative Trade salon series and topic discussions.

Topic 1: The Farmer, Buyer and Intermediary Relationship

What builds and breaks supply chain relationships? Presenters share stories from the field and from sourcing and buying experiences. In sourcing circles, the words trust and transparency continue to come up but what do these words really mean and how can we create a sustainable food supply chain that has enough of both? What do buyers need to know from origin and intermediaries in order to trust in the system enough to create purchasing relationships? What information is valuable and needed by other stakeholders, such as customers or funders, to have confidence that information provided is accurate and reliable?

Read session notes and results via the links below.

Topic 2: The Risky Business of Logistics and Supporting Finance

As demand climbs for quality products from traditional farmers who care about the environment and pay their employees fairly, the logistics around trade transactions with small-scale farmers continue to be a major barrier. First, the lead time between when an order is placed and when the product arrives can be very long (up to a year or more) and second, the process can feel very risky for buyers, not knowing if the product may be spoilt due to unforeseen climatic changes, crop failures or during transport and shipping. While buyers would prefer to pay for product after receiving it and verifying its quality, farmers usually need pre-payment so that they have enough cash on hand to harvest and process the product. As awareness of this gap grows, so does the understanding that finding a bridge between the two would allow sustainable trade to truly scale.

Read session notes and results via the links below.

Topic 3: The Role of Technology, Tools and Strategic Partnerships

While there are quite a few individual donor, NGO and governmental projects dedicated to funding small-scale farmers, there are fewer collaborative projects where organizations share information, resources and technology. This working group tackled the question of how organizations working with small-scale farmers can work together to support each other’s progress? What tools and technology can we share? What information is useful across the board and should not end up on dusty bookshelves? Where can we store these ‘commons’ so that everyone has access to important data that will support their programs? And finally, is there any technology that we can create collectively?

Read session notes and results via the links below.

See contributors section<link>to see who participated.

Impact Theme and Collaborative Story: Regenerative Cacao

Regenerative cacao is a common impact theme and a formal set of agreements co-defined by stakeholders within a trade network that is working towards shared values and meaningful impact, related to regeneration. The campaign aims to unite brands, consumers and a community to support producers at origin, greater ecological and individual health. This campaign can serve as a blueprint for how organizations can work together toward common goals while generating win-wins for all involved.

To learn more about this campaign, see Pilots.

Human-Based Impact

The question Yellow Seed has heard over and over again, along the full spectrum of the cacao supply chain, is “how do I know that my efforts to do better really matter?”

Our work is rooted in discovering the impact that is possible if there is a space for truly inclusive, conscious trade, where everyone can share experiences, solutions and inspiration with the ultimate goal of growing these sectors of the market.

To do this, Yellow Seed engaged its network to co-define a human-centered approach to understanding our collective impact, and how the platform can showcase the efforts of many.

For more information see Impact: A Human-Centered Approach and contributors for a list of participants.

Community Role Co-Design

Community roles are inspired from the ground up and in response to catalysts within the community taking action to design ways to “pay it forward”, creating opportunities for more meaningful connection and exchange.

This includes producers in all parts of the supply chain—chocolate makers, educators, and consumers who looking for better ways to engage and share responsibility to make markets work better for them and for more people. We believe efficiency and inclusion happens through collaboration and that requires us to rethink how we work and relate with one another, in service of the whole.

Roles currently in development are the Taster and Ambassador Roles. See here to get involved.

Check out the Contributors page to see who has played a key role in the design.

Is there a way you’d like to participate, and don’t see how? Email hello@yellow-seed.org with an idea or proposal.

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