The Five Pillars
Just as businesses have business models, social impact organizations and trade associations have models. Both have stakeholders. Both have customers. However, the business is focused on product and profit; the trade association model is focused on belonging and benefits. The key difference between the standard business model and the trade association model, therefore, is membership. Members self-select to participate with one another, coalescing around common goals and a shared purpose.
Trade + Impact Association is no different in that regard. Our members join the collective of like-minded people - buyers, sellers, investors, governmental representatives, other associations - to support the mission of the organization: to be a collaborative global community of members from the craft and natural cosmetics sectors, with a focus on women-led social enterprises in Africa and the Middle East. Further, the membership drives the advancement of these social enterprises, enabling them to elevate the impact on their communities and beyond.
Trade+Impact Association is unique in a very distinctive way. Its membership rests stoutly on its platform of for growth in these sectors through five key pillars:
TRADE + INVESTMENT + LEARNING + CONNECTING + ADVOCATING
The Five Pillars are the most immediate and compelling aspect of T+I. Having first identified both a demand and a gap in the global marketplace for goods from Africa and the Middle East, its founders set out to better understand the whys and wherefores of their data and analysis. Through miles of travel, hundreds of conversation, and months of thoughtful consideration, the T+I founders discovered that most of the sellers of the goods who could fill the demand were more than just ‘producers of product’. They were predominantly women; they were overwhelmingly disconnected from both business skills development and investors; and they were siloed in their efforts to create and connect. Additionally, these women were leaders in their communities, providing incomes, improving living conditions, and developing tradecraft in the families around them.
Each T+I seller member has a powerful social story behind her brand. Regardless the power of those stories, more powerful, more ensconced barriers to growth impede their both the progress of business and the impact in communities. Some of those barriers are access to markets, access to finance, and skills development. T+I is breaking those barriers, providing each member the access to buyers in markets they’d never considered, access to investment they’d only imagined, and education in business principles and best practices. Interestingly and importantly, not every seller wants these. But should they, through T+I’s efforts, they will be able to have them. T+I will have already flattened the learning curve and levelled the playing field for these intrepid women and social enterprises.
Supported by its Pillars and collaborating with its community, T+I is a timely, exciting association poised to make a mark, for the women-led social enterprises it counts as its members and for the global community of buyers, investors, and sectors they serve. To join, or for more information, visit tradeplusimpact.org. Help us ‘be the plus’ for women-led social enterprises everywhere.