The Chilean Cau Cau Bridge, connecting the city Valdivia with the island Isla Tejas, has been drawing some media attention to Chile during the last week. The reason for this is that at least one traffic deck was built upside down. The bridge was supposed to open in January 2014 but is now postponed for an indefinite amount of time. This 30 million dollar bridge, actually the first drawbridge in Chile, therefore became a real nightmare for both MOP (public infrastructure authority) and the people involved in the realization of the project. All of this despite MOP´s efforts to tone the incident down as a ´little´ mistake. Well, if it would be a Lego bridge this could be a little mistake but now a whole country´s reputation got some damage and Chilean companies might not get to build many bridges abroad for some time despite the fact that the company building the bridge actually is a Spanish company.
Sometimes it is easy to get a bit too comfortable leading to the risk that some details might be missed. Many companies we work with use a rotation system when performing safety rounds and checks to see things with fresh eyes. Multinational companies use, for some years now, global internal auditors that travel the world to visit different production sites in order to prevent incidents and to bring global standards and examples of best praxis everywhere.
Obviously things can go wrong anyway and sometimes they do go wrong despite the best efforts and intentions of everyone involved. However, when things are taken for granted the risk for making mistakes or to suffer an incident increase. Some cross-functional work or external revisions could save time, money and reputation.
I am currently in La Paz, Bolivia, on a mission to write my bachelor’s thesis in economics. The thesis is about agricultural cooperatives as economic organizations and the potential for development of such entities. The object of my study is a multilevel cooperative called El Ceibo. El Ceibo is the only chocolate producer in the world where the farmers are members of the same organization that actually produce chocolate products out of the bean, which means they get a part of the profit. More importantly, the chocolate is divine!
Today I visited the cooperative’s headquarters in El Alto, a city nearby La Paz. I met with the president and other members of the management, which really just are regular farmers elected democratically by each village-cooperative. It was a very interesting meeting and they prepared me for the field. I regretted mentioning that that their products going to European and North American markets are fair trade certified, however.To them the products were still not fair. The payment to regular farmers is still low, and they lead hard lives. The products that they export to international markets may actually benefit the farmers with a price premium. But a fairly low demand for fair trade products in western societies creates an excess supply of fair trade products and the farmers are forced to sell parts of the production to domestic markets as non-fair trade. However, the management staff pointed out other types of benefits that comes with the cooperative life style. It simply makes investments and relative security a reality.
A difficulty for El Ceibo is the competition of non-honest firms, such as producers that avoid paying taxes or that market non-organic products as being organic. Such companies may actually be able to offer a higher price for cocoa to the farmers. This, perhaps, demonstrate the importance of certifications and controls that guarantee that a product is really organic.
To learn more about El Ceibo, visit http://www.elceibo.org
Publicerat i csr, Debatt, Miljö, Organisation & Miljö, Politik & Miljö
Taggad BolIVIA, cacao, Chocolate, choklad, Development, ekologisk, Fair trade, kooperativ, latin america, organic, Sydamerika, utveckling