The following is a reflection on and application of the theory of change developed by the How Change Happens Knowledge Hub. 

Fair Trade Manitoba, a program of the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC), works with various institutions, including local and provincial governments, schools, and crown corporations, as they discover, consider, plan for, and take action on fair trade procurement and policies. Over the past five years we have worked with approximately 15 groups that are engaged in different ways and have differing levels of commitment with the fair trade movement.

For some organizations and individuals, the concept of fair trade and the connection with Fair Trade Manitoba are quite new, and they come to us seeking information (point of entry). For other organizations, green or social procurement is already accepted as part of their mandate, and key individuals within their institution are taking leadership to move from intention to action. We try our best to connect with organizations that are in the process of exploring these options to ensure that fair trade is considered as a way that they can live out that mandate.

The process of changing practices and policies with regard to fair trade is a slow one, often taking months or years. A common challenge is finding a way to move fair trade from a “back-burner” issue to a “front-burner” issue.

Fair Trade Manitoba’s role is to try to help people make emotional connections with the issues through live presentations (personal change); build relationships and connect organizations to allies and brokers (relational change); and assist with face-to-face meetings with decision makers (societal change). Often this means just patiently keeping in contact.

Some organizations will change their practices because of the work of specific individuals with a strong belief in the philosophy of fair trade. This is a point where our work builds on the work of other organizations who have helped these individuals become active global citizens (active global citizenship). Others struggle with concerns about budget, doubts about fair trade’s credibility, and the idea of imposing a policy that is seen to restrict purchasing decisions.

Ultimately we believe the organizations that implement procedures and policies are contributing to more sustainable futures for producers (outcomes).

Questions for reflection:

  • What steps can we take to encourage those who are struggling with budget, credibility and “imposing” a policy, to help them see the big picture?
  • Does this type of policy change make a difference to the individuals within the organization? Does it engage them in a cycle of transformation, or is change only happening within the key decision makers
  • What interventions are the most effective?