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Mishcon Academy: Digital Sessions podcast - Sustainable shopping in practice - with Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO of Inclusive Trade

Posted on 28 September 2022

Sustainable shopping teal

The Mishcon Academy Digital Sessions.  Conversations on the legal topics affecting businesses and individuals today.

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

In this episode, what are the main hurdles for sustainable shopping?  How is this market going to grow and change in the future?  How can we put an end to greenwashing in the industry?  And is purpose a viable business objective for a profit making business?

Hello and welcome to this Mishcon Academy Digital Sessions podcast.  I’m Emma Webb, a Corporate Associate at Mishcon de Reya and I’m joined by the Founder and CEO of Inclusive Trade, Rupa Ganguli.  Hi Rupa. 

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

Hi Emma.  Thanks for having me.

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

Rupa, it’s great to have you with us.  Please could you give us a short introduction to yourself. 

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

Hi.  Thanks very much, Emma and it’s wonderful to be here today.  So, my background, I come from India originally and I started my life out in the wholesale markets of textile production in India, in Mumbai and really, from a very early age, while I was at university, set up a small business, treating textiles, learning economics at the same time and sort of fast forward many years, that led me on to sort of really wanting to understand how trade works internationally, the field of textiles and clothing and I guess over the years of sort work at the WTO, at the UN and worked with loads and loads of small businesses and artisans across the world, at a larger scale doing what I used to do in the wholesale markets but obviously in cross border trade and I love doing that.  The critical element is how do you make that happen sustainably and how can you ensure that people are actually making money and being paid the wages that they deserve.  So I guess that’s sort of where I come from and what I do in a nutshell and it’s wonderful to be here to talk about you know in a greater detail today. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

Perfect.  Thank you.  In 2009, as part of its future of corporation work, the British Academy concluded that the purpose of business is to solve the problems of people and planet profitably and not profit from causing problems.  For me, this perfectly sums up inclusive trade and I just wondered if you could give us a bit more information about the platform and how it operates and how you envision creating profit with purpose?

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

Thanks Emma.  Yeah, so inclusive trade is in fact something that has come to be as a compilation of a lot of my sort of working on the field with small businesses over the years and working on cross border trade and supporting them to actually join global value chains and in doing that basically, Inclusive Trade’s ethos is being an online ecommerce marketplace but with sustainability first as its mandate and ethos.  What that means really is that just like any other platform, of course people can buy and sell, it’s B2C and B2B and the critical aspects here is in trying to let people understand the value really of what they are buying and when I say the value, it doesn’t just mean the cost or the price, it really means what’s gone behind it, what’s the impact it has and you know, how really they’re making a difference in actually buying something.  We really take every single business that gets onto the platform through a vetting process and what that does is we link that to the UN SDGs, sustainable development goals, so every product there you know is linked to either SDG 5 that has gender inclusivity, SDG 12 that’s responsible production and consumption or SDG 13 which is on climate action.  So those are the three sort of core pillars if you like of the businesses we work with and the impact that we are supporting, let’s say, in the world.  So that’s basically inclusive trade and in doing that we of course in the process have a lot of fun, we meet loads of amazing people, we work with artisans from parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America and learn as much as we actually give back.  So, yeah, it’s literally inclusive trade.

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

And just to give the listeners an idea, what is the kind of stuff that you are selling on this marketplace?

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

So, as, as my background goes back to sort of fashion and textiles, definitely fashion and lifestyle textiles are our core set of products.  When we started off with the concept back I 2018, we were looking at B2C consumers and focussing on just trying to make a dent if you like, in the consumption patterns and the fashions and textile industry and what was then seen as a very tiny little niche industry has obviously grown to become this large sort of mainstream business today for the masses I would say even, even like big retailers are now talking about it but at the time when we started, it was really like you know kind of trying to just change mindsets and get people to understand, just love your product, love your garment, love what you’re buying and as a result, you will cherish it, you will keep it longer.  So that’s basically been our kind of steppingstone and we’ve kind of moved from there to also now providing lots of bespoke services and products for business procurement, corporate procurement, so we worked with the likes of the FAO of the UN, the WTO, we verified vendors, we’ve supplied them already for various delegate packages and they’ve been able to trace the products that they’ve bought right to the source.  So I guess that’s basically what we want to promote for the business and consumer level.

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

So as you were saying, the purpose of Inclusive Trade is to provide an easily accessible platform for sustainable goods.  Can you just give us a bit more information on the vetting process?  What form it takes, how long it takes and how often you vet them, do you go back again, you know, keep going back to suppliers or is it a one-time thing?

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

Yeah, so this is actually something that has in fact evolved, just like the platform in itself.  The vetting process started with us really sitting down with our small artisans and businesses that we knew and having a chat really, just like literally like we are right now and understanding their process, understanding what they did, how they were having an impact and it’s so interesting because actually, often these MSMEs or micro small businesses, often tend to do things in a way that have inherently a positive impact where they are actually you know using water very sensibly or they are actually disposing products really sensibly because that’s just they way they do things but it’s not normally recorded in a way where let’s say you and I would understand and often they think it’s so normal that they don’t talk about it.  So it’s really about understanding that process and that’s where we started off with talking about you know what do you do, tell us more and we direct the questions linked to obviously the impact areas in gender, in responsible transparency of production, the social impact that they’re having and at the same time, the climate aspect in terms of like you know are they in fact disposing the water off correctly, what is happening, where do they in fact get the water, do they recycle things?  That’s where it started and over time we’ve evolved the process into a lot more standardised form of process which has become, started with becoming a checklist where each and every SDG, which is quite macro in sense, is broken down into smaller components for small businesses to understand.  When you say gender, like what does that actually mean?  It’s like okay, how many female workers do you have?  You know, what are the kind of facilities you provide them and simple things like that so started with a checklist and then over time that checklist has evolved into a sort of a methodology and a simple algorithm if you like, which is what we use now to score and provide them in a very transparent manner really, what it is that they’re saying and how that leads to impact or where they could potentially grow further and a lot of this is not very prescriptive, it is in fact a very sort of, it’s a collaborative process, it’s something where we’re learning as well because actually some of the ways in which people use waste is so interesting that probably sitting here, you wouldn’t even think about it.  So there are lots of, I think it’s a give and take process, we’ve also had collaborations between businesses across borders, like small businesses working together to actually, I would say share best practices at the assembly level, so yeah, so I guess the vetting process started with just a chat, it today is a set of sort of questions if you like which has a rated scoring at the back of it and our sort of ambition and interest right now is in fact developing it further and scaling this model into an app potentially or yeah, a piece of software which would be a lot faster, automated and we could expand and scale up further. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

And you were saying about the sharing of knowledge, is this through you?  Are you facilitating this or are they being proactive, contacting each other and progressing it that way?

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

I think it’s been a bit of both, I mean to a large extent they’ve got to feel like they’re in a safe space and I think once you feel that there is a safe network and a safe sort of place that you can exchange views without feeling a bit threatened, yeah, I mean there’ve been various incidences I think we’ve definitely promoted it or sort of tried to facilitate interaction but we’ve had webinars in fact over the Covid times as well, we’ve had lots of webinars where we’ve in fact had one supplier or SME from one part of the world kind of explaining what she does and we’ve had people like you and me sitting there but also other vendors and other suppliers learning from them and that sort of led to more interaction and follow-up discussions amongst themselves.  Social media is obviously amazing in the sense that there’s Instagram and there’s Facebook and Facebook groups and things like that which obviously leads to you know interaction amongst the network itself. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

Yeah that’s, that’s very, I mean that’s really impressive if they’re managing to do it, especially from different parts of the world, you can imagine how they could learn differently.  In terms of the timing for the vetting, obviously I can imagine it’s impossible to say exactly what the time is, I know how timelines change depending on the people but have you got any sort of rough timings on how long it takes?

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

Yeah.  Definitely, I could give you some ideas now that we’ve got a fairly, I mean I would say a decent sample size as previously we had six and so it was difficult to say, oh, there’s one that’s really fast and one that’s slow but I would say that it is very personality driven to some extent I would say and we’re dealing with small and micro businesses across the world so they’re all like you know, small units, they’re not you know, they haven’t got massive departments, people haven’t got ten people doing the same you know different jobs, it’s literally three people doing you know ten jobs but I would say it could range from realistically speaking, at the current level because it isn’t an app, which could obviously make it much faster, it takes about I would say ten days to two weeks at the minimum, like at the very, very minimum, that’s like someone who’s really on it, gets to doing it and really doesn’t sort of waste a day if you like, so it would probably, could be that fast depending on how simple the product line is as well.  So if it’s just let’s say one set of products, like you know something like that then yeah, it’s definitely possible, if they’ve already done a lot of homework in that they have some level of certifications in place or they’ve already been recognised then, yeah, it’s a lot faster but obviously if you’re starting absolutely from scratch and introducing the process, well, we’ve had a timeline I would say of even two months because time difference, people have been sort of right someone’s ill, someone’s not here and we’ve also gone through a bit of Covid situations where there’s been a lot of up and down in the past couple of I would say years now, with you know people not being there, the business being closed for a while, suddenly opening again but I would say that forecasting forward, if one was to look at this more from a scalability perspective, you could be doing even I mean like two to three a day at least, if you had the software piece.  Right now, it’s manual, it is quite manual so it does require an individual to actually work on the vetting to make sure that everything has been uploaded as well, if there are verification documents that are coming through and often these need to be verified by an entity in their own country because, you know, it’s not always in English, for example, we’ve had something come from Myanmar it’s in Burmese, you know if something is coming from Guatemala, it’s in Spanish, so obviously it’s more the entity over there that we would trust would be able to support us in saying yes this is actually authentic as well.  So we do work in collaboration with a lot of, I would say, they’re not official partners but they are in that sense because they’re the Chambers of Commerce, they are sector associations, there are small business supporting agencies around the world that we do work quite closely with, who help us a lot in being able to sort of you know get us to get the right documents or getting the vetting process to actually work in the authentic.

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

Yeah, I’m actually quite impressed with that timeline to be honest.  In my line of work, two months is nothing so, that’s great.

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

Well, if I had to wait two months to on board every single supplier, I wouldn’t be making very much money at all. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

In terms of hurdles for the suppliers, is there any key hurdles that you could sort of pinpoint or is it just depends on the supplier again?

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

The critical ones I would say are getting their documents, I mean a lot of times because of the nature of these businesses, they’re quite small, so often they won’t have certain documents in place, even if they’re doing something, there’s no way to actually document that and that probably is one of the critical things and to kind of counter that, what we’ve started doing is to create like a kind of a checklist because we’ve learned now that these are sort of stumbling areas all the time so we’re like right, checklist, here, you know, you should probably think about these documents, maybe think about this is a standard template that you could use if you haven’t got one or we would direct them to certain kind of websites and links and things like that so, I suppose that’s a bit of work in progress for us, we want to come up with some more such training documents and things that we can send out to vendors in advance and when I say vendors, I mean people who want to sort of sell on the marketplace, so that it shortens that timeline of us actually starting the process and then stopping because they need to go find these documents.  The other thing we find often is financials, it’s, it’s one of those tricky, sticky areas where how much do you, you know, disclose, what do you not and that is always challenging also because financial accounting systems are different around the world, the timelines are different so, you know, it’s a bit hard to sometimes narrow down to what exactly that means but because of the work that we’re doing, we’re focussing on sustainability and the impact that they have, whether they’re paying their workers and things like that so we’re looking at five, so obviously social impact, where female workers are concerned or entrepreneurs, also the responsible production consumption is more about, well there’s the consumption side as well because it’s sort of awareness building piece that we do with you and me, like consumers or businesses that we are working with but for suppliers, there are obviously areas that, you know, we’re not looking necessarily at the financial audits, we’re not accounting agents, so we’re not really able to even sort of certify whether or not their accounting is right or wrong, it’s more about understanding that the sustainable impact that we’re looking at is in fact there or not.  So that’s sort of the key areas of hurdles or challenges. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

And then in terms of suppliers, in terms of finding them, is it a case of they come to you or you come to them?  And in terms of how often they meet the hurdles for the vetting, do you find that depends on whether you sourced them or they’ve come to you?  Like, does anyone ever come to you trying to get onto the platform and you say no, you don’t meet the standard?

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

Yes, we have.  That’s the simple answer and it’s complicated though because there’s some wonderful products out there and there are some amazing businesses, small micro businesses run by the, you know, there’s mum in like in Ethiopia for example in Addis, and she has this amazing jewellery for example that she’s making and in the big picture of things, she, you know, if you and I were buying that jewellery from her, we would create such an amazing, positive impact but then there comes a factor of regulations and safety, health and safety, and especially if you are going to import products into the UK, the EU, there are different regulations and you have to meet those minimum safety standards or you know health and safety standards in terms of the type of metals used and you know what kind of processing and actually, for small businesses, that is very challenging obviously, in a country where they’re not, it’s a different let’s say, set of quality standards that are acceptable in the local market.  So, in that sense, yes, we do have, you do have hurdles but again, what I intend to do and we haven’t yet quite got there because, well, scalability and factors of how much we can achieve within a timeframe, is in fact look at development projects that are happening around the world, which I used to work on, several of them myself when I worked with you know UN projects or Dutch Government projects and a lot of these projects focus in fact on supporting SMEs or MS and Es, do in fact become business ready or export ready and the large part of their work focusses on supporting them to understand what the standards are, what the voluntary requirements are, what the mandatory requirements are, if you want to export to the EU or to the UK, what must you have for your product, like whether the dyes are right or you know the metal standards are correct.  So, I think the next step is in fact in partnering or kind of liaising with these development projects because they’re doing that work and they want their suppliers and that project to in fact find a market and we’re looking for suppliers that we want to help them find the market, so it’s sort of like you know a nice, I would say hand in hand sort of collaboration, that would be the next step for us. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

Fine.  So, yeah, if someone doesn’t meet the standard, you can still point them in the right direction so that eventually they’ll get there, sort of thing. 

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

Yeah.  And again, if it’s, if they’re interested and again, there are two types of, you’d find.  Some who’d say well, actually, we’re happy with what we’re doing, the local market is fine, if we can’t get on the platform at the moment, that’s okay and that’s fine, you know, it just means that we stay in touch, it’s brilliant.  Then there’s the second type who’d say no, actually, we really want to enter the international market and those are the kind of people who would probably match our platform anyway because we are focussing on trying to build this international trade and whether they sell locally or sell globally, the point is eventually the market access requirements have to be met and there’s legal as well as sort of design elements to both those things. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

It’s predicted that the sustainable fashion industry will have a global valuation of 8.2 billion by next year, growing roughly 6.8% per annum.  Have you seen this growth in the market and do you feel like there is an increased interest or buzz around the topic of sustainable fashion and shopping?

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

Yeah, those are amazing numbers to hear, I wonder if that like again, it’s one of these growth factors, isn’t it, it’s all growing so rapidly and some of these numbers are not even, we’re not even sort of necessarily tapping into all the market data, I’m sure that in some ways there’s even more of it happening on the side lines.  Yes, I think in terms of like the market in itself growth, of course you see a lot more of a buzz where people, consumers, businesses are talking about ESG, I mean everyone’s talking about how they’re going to meet their targets as a business themselves.  If you break it down to sort of macro, micro and you know sort of like the intermediary levels, so the macro being the Governments, you see Governments around the world now making their promises and targets of becoming net zero by 2050, 2030, you know there are all these very ambitious targets being set out by Governments.  As a sort of step down from that, there’s sort of regulations coming into play because of that, where businesses and customers, consumers, are being held accountable for what they purchase and how they market their products and saying that these are actually green or they are in fact sustainable.  So, definitely there’s a massive amount of I would say movement in that space and again, like the other side of that is that I think businesses you’ve seen already in many shops, you see there’s organic this and you know I think the food industry has done that quite well for years now, there’s a lot of you know, you and I, I think today are quite used to seeing organic and non-gluten and things like that, it’s kind of become more than norm, as compared to like the exception, which it was probably even ten years ago but the clothing industry unfortunately, we’re not there yet, however, there’s definitely a lot bigger movement, like if you walk into some of the big mass retail stores, you will see oh this has organic clothing or this is conscious clothing or this is made from recycled some product, this is compostable, so there are things that are coming up definitely, both the mass market level as well consumers are demanding it.  I think it was a survey that we’d done some time ago, through Inclusive Trade ourselves, and we found that about an overwhelming 80% or more, I think it was 85% or something of the you know people that we’d surveyed, had in fact come back saying that if there was an opportunity to buy something more ethical or sustainable, they would.  Now I think it’s one thing to say they would, the other thing is when it comes to putting your money down, what exactly are you doing and I suppose there’s that slight gap there still but it’s more about more businesses, more retailers making more sustainable products accessible and I think that’s where the problem is, if it’s too expensive, if it’s out of reach, it becomes difficult for the consumer on the street to be able to access it but unless we are able to kind of make that change at the mass level, I think we’ll only always have small pockets that will be able to do it and the large businesses will still be sort of the ones who’d make the biggest impact so I think consumers on the ground definitely have to be able to access these sustainable products for real change to happen. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

Yeah and in terms of making the market change for this, do you think that is going to be a Government led, business led, consumer led, like what do you think’s going to be the main driver for this? 

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

I think there’s been a lot of, especially from the younger population if you like, like I would say the Gen Z or you know younger audience, there’s been a lot of, I would say, vocal discussion everywhere about you know the need for change.  Just before Covid, we were talking about all the sort of issues with fires and floods and we’re still seeing that actually.  Right now, we’ve got devastating floods and fires as well and we’ve had a very hot summer over here, for instance, so I think the younger generation has definitely been sort of pointing that out, the Gen Z, we did a film actually where we’d interviewed a whole bunch of consumers, our Gen Z consumers from parts of Asia, from parts of Europe and it’s really fascinating to see the passion and enthusiasm with which, you know they’re not just saying it for marketing, they really mean it.  That is what they’ve grown up with, that’s what they see every day and as a result I think they are definitely leading that in many ways but for real change to happen, I think it’s got to be a collaborative where if regulators don’t start putting in proper policies in place and saying that if you do not need these particular regulatory requirements, it will always be a voluntary requirement, if it’s voluntary, you will have a certain set of people who’ll do it because they believe in it and there’ll be people who just sort of you know not do it or companies or businesses not doing it.  So I think regulation has I’ve seen and my view, I think regulation plays a really important role in making real change happen but I think there is an appetite for it, definitely, with consumers starting to question businesses and historically, if you thought about what was then CSR, corporate social responsibility, again it came from the consumer led focus, the consumers started questioning big companies on how are workers being treated etc so I think consumer led is amazing but at the same time I think it has to be matched by a regulatory hand, which supports this consumer led interest, if you like, and demand. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

And we’re definitely seeing that in the world at the moment so, yeah, definitely we’ll be going the right way. 

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

Do you care what the green claim is called and the EU with its, the strategy, the eco strategies, so absolutely I think globally, I have to say I think that it’s coming together now, finally. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

So, I understand Inclusive Trade has grown organically from private investment but I’m curious to know whether or not you’ve had any experience with impact investors looking into it for yourself or approaches from them to learn more about your vetting process?

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

Yeah, it has grown organically to date.  I managed to get it to this point, of course, organically but we’ve had some interesting conversations I would say over this year with organisations in the field of supporting criteria that go into impact investment, such as, what are the factors and what are you looking for as an impact investor and how do you sell it on as a product let’s say or how do you invest as well?  So, two ends of the spectrum.  And it’s been interesting, I guess I can kind of just share one particular example where the conversation led to the point where you know we were wondering whether the criteria used for impact investment is very far removed from the kind of criteria or factors we put in place when we’re measuring impact, for instance, at Inclusive Trade and interestingly, they’re not very different really.  There’s a lot of I would say point four sort of similarities, I mean you can come together at many places but the language used is possibly different and maybe the scale is slightly different at this point in time but I think there’s definitely, going forward, as the fashion industry grows and as we’re looking at kind of creating mass skill change and impact in looking at the social or the environmental and most of the investors that we’ve spoken to are focussed on specific areas, so whether it’s the environmental aspect or whether it’s on the transparency aspect, so they’re specific elements of the impact that we’re talking about and yeah, definitely I think there’s been an interest and for them to understand, they’ve requested us to sort of see what is the methodology we use and how in depth is it and can that be used for towards the kind of impact investment they are working on or you know, equally is there something we can take from there that we can use?  And then going forward, is there a case for us to go out there and get impact investment ourselves?  So, definitely, I mean that’s definitely on the cards, we’re definitely looking at that angle right now. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

Right.  And we kind of touched on it earlier but obviously we’re seeing an increased clampdown on greenwashing in the papers, it’s definitely more common now.  From your point of view, is this something that you think affects your business?  Do you feel like consumer confidence is lower because of it?  What do you think we can do to prevent it?

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO Inclusive Trade

That’s a really good question.  I think that was the sort of absolute premise of why we in fact set up Inclusive Trade and we said that often there are some companies that are truly doing the right thing or creating the impact that we say that we’re creating but often because of the sort of largescale greenwashing, consumers are, yeah, I mean rightly so, a bit suspicious.  Are you saying the right thing or not?  And for us it’s always been, from the very beginning, like right, what were the questions that you would ask if you were going to buy something and what would make you feel confident?  How can we make sure that the process is as transparent as possible?  And yes, we have had that but fortunately for us I think the network of consumers and businesses we have, that we have reached out to and who have come to us as well, seem to understand what we’re about and the fact that we ourselves in fact went through the process of becoming a B Corporation, which was a long process over the last year, and in many ways that of course also goes to show that yes, you know we’re doing what we say we’re doing as well, it’s not just that we’ve sort of said this is a good thing to do and then we’re doing something else ourselves.  So I think that the consumer confidence levels, with these new regulations coming in place or rather have just come in place, people are now beginning to say right, okay, many of the companies that originally said they were green, are now withdrawing some of their claims, so withdrawing some of their marketing statements for instance and I think that in itself is a good step forward for consumers and businesses to understand that right, you know we’ve got to think before we just put out statements there.  And the same applies for us, we think a lot of times, we’ve actually got our own statements on sustainability and on marketing, what can we say?  What should we not say?  And we’ve gone through this whole process internally ourselves even though we’re a small company but we decided that let’s get it right from Day 1 because actually, trying to have a legacy of things that you come and try to change later is so much more complicated and painful, so it’s much better to get all these things in place and actually, going through the B Corporation process helped us a lot as well because we, as a small company, learnt to put a lot of these documents together ourselves.

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

Yeah, and I think that’s why Inclusive Trade’s such a great platform because a while back I was trying to look into sustainable fashion and it’s actually really difficult when you’re looking on websites and you’re trying to do the research and you don’t really believe this, you don’t believe that and someone says something different and I just think it takes a lot of time so, basically you’re, you’re doing the time element, you know, you’re giving the people that reassurance that they can trust you on that so, I think it’s great for that.  So, finally, I just want to say what would your advice be for someone entering into this market, as a consumer, supplier or facilitator? 

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

As a consumer, definitely ask more questions because I think the only way we can make change, and I’ve said this before, is that if you and I go out there and buy the cheapest product on the shelf without asking any questions, we’re going to continue to fuel that industry and that growth of cheap products that you might wear for like you know one night because it’s brilliant and then throw it away.  And the more we buy things like that, and I know there’s a cost of living crisis coming up so of course we’re all going to tighten up our strings and we’re going to be careful about what we buy but then I would just say think carefully about what you buy.  Buy less, you know, you don’t have to buy a lot, buy less but buy something that you think is ethical, buy something that’s sustainable, that’s going to last in your cupboard or your wardrobe for like a long, long time.  As a facilitator or a business, I think at the end of the day it’s our role and our responsibility to try and make that change happen because we haven’t got a planet B, I know someone else has said that before I’m sure but honestly, this is the only Earth we’ve got so if we don’t, as you know people in the business, take that on really responsibly and take that on as a kind of a mandate and set ourselves sort of goals and targets which we decide to achieve over a short, medium and a long term, we’re not going to have a discussion will we?  Because we won’t have a plan, we won’t have anything left and we’re already seeing really, really dramatic issues right now with the heat, the rain or the lack of rain, the snow, everything’s changing and alongside that, that’s one angle of it, that’s the climate issue but then there’s the social angle where people are being displaced and you know, people don’t have jobs and there’s all of this sort of really mass level of destruction going on and if we as businesses don’t step in and really conduct business for good, yeah, make profit, there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you also look at the growth angle of it.  I think it’s not about greed, it’s about growth.  There used to be that saying, right, “Greed was good,” well I don’t think it is, I think it’s growth is good and it’s about really focussing on how do you grow by including everyone involved in the supply chain and the larger facilitated group around you?  And I think that sort of boils under the stakeholders and that’s you, me, the businesses, everyone. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

Yeah.  It’s like we discussed previously, you need a motivation for doing these things and there’s nothing wrong with making some money while doing some good. 

I’d like to say thanks so much to Rupa for joining us for this Mishcon Academy Digital Session podcast.  I’m Emma Webb.

Rupa Ganguli, Founder and CEO, Inclusive Trade

Thank you so much Emma, that’s been an absolute pleasure.  And you can follow us on Instagram @Inclusive_Trade or we’re on LinkedIn as well @InclusiveTrade, so love to hear from you if you have any questions about sustainable fashion and trade.  All those businesses and consumers will be more than happy to answer questions and of course, love to engage with you as well.  Thank you very much. 

Emma Webb, Associate, Mishcon de Reya

The Digital Sessions are a series of online events, videos and podcasts, all available at Mishcon.com and if you have any questions you’d like answered or suggestions of what you’d like us to cover, do let us know at digitalsessions@mishcon.com

 

 

The Mishcon Academy Digital Sessions.  To access advice for businesses that is regularly updated, please visit Mishcon.com. 

In our latest podcast episode, Emma Webb, Associate, in the Corporate department is joined by the Founder and CEO of Inclusive Trade Ltd, Rupa Ganguli where they discuss what the main hurdles for sustainable shopping are, how this market is going to grow and change in the future and how can we put an end to greenwashing in the industry.


Visit the Mishcon Academy for more learning, events, videos, podcasts and reports.

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