Maarten Bevers | Switzerland | 17 June 2016
ARISE is a child labor elimination program. So what…, there are many of those programs, why would this program be different.
Many programs are designed for the short term, and are hardly owned by anybody. Programs are designed by organizations with very good knowledge and intentions. Contributions are received from donors, also with very good intentions. Nothing wrong with that. Except that such programs are never designed specifically to support the value chain. The programs are often not tailored to the donors’ business model. Because of that, results are often short term and not delivering business results other than reputational gains.
I am not saying that all programs are like that and I am certain there are many programs that do have ownership and long term objectives. But what if most programs have clear business objectives and donors become partners and sole funders of such programs? Would that not increase the sustainability and targeted results of programs?
ARISE is such a program. It is special because the ownership lies with one donor, focusing on its own supply chain. That one funding organization
is per definition a commercial enterprise (since it focusses on its supply chain) and takes on its part of the responsibility to help improving the supply chain directly. A company can never solve these problems on its own and also has not the sole responsibility. Governments, Communities and not the least the farmers (in the case of ARISE), all have a role to play together with companies to improve the labor situations in the supply chain.
ARISE is funded by one company and executed with two partners who have experience in designing and executing programs to eliminate child labor through education. The three partners all play their part: planning and setting targets, on the ground execution and engagement with governments or other stakeholders such as the communities and local governments.
ARISE is funded by this one commercial organization and that company manages the program together with its partners on the ground in various countries where the company has its business. The company is actively involved in ensuring the issues are addressed, efficiencies are made, areas are clearly identified and clear targets are set, also relationships with receiving communities have mostly been established. Results can then be measured through its supply chain management.
That commercial organization is ensuring the program delivers expected results since it is working in its supply chain. It can also constantly challenge the partners in their efficiencies of execution. The commercial partner in the program, therefore contributes with its own expertise. Is the program delivering business improvements in its value chain, then the program has good chances it will continue. Is there room for improvement, then the company can clearly drive the need for improvements with its partners and together review the Key Performance Indicators. Is the program not delivering upon expectations what it should deliver to the supply chain improvements, then the program can be stopped since it does not help the communities and therefore also not the business. It is the business that is seeking improvements in its labor practices.
That combination of three partners delivering each with their expertise delivers a very special dynamic and responsibility. A program that is not designed to show off to the outside world, but a program that is designed to help improving labor practices in a business supply chain.
The fact that, in the case of ARISE, the commercial partner is a tobacco company may be seen as potentially conflicting with the controversial product it makes. I personally see that differently, the product may be controversial but it does not release a company from its obligation to take its responsibility in its supply chain. Through ARISE, the company takes that responsibility.
The ARISE concept can be and should be shared with other industries who have similar supply chain issues and pick up good practices from it. JTI would be very happy to do so.
Vice President Corporate Affairs & Communications
Global Supply Chain & Global leaf
Japan Tobacco International