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Challenges in the market place

"Traveler, there are no paths.
Paths are made by walking."

Australian Aboriginal saying



Beyond law and order in the market place

In the last few years, economic, social and economic development has been described as equal pillars of sustainable development (SD).

Today today we see that the economic development in public perception is more and more aligned behind social and foremost environmental concerns.

Public interests will be reflected in current and future regional or national policies and the use of marked based standards. A number of trends in the international and European marketplace show growing sophistication in private business requirements imposed on small and medium enterprises (SME's). We also observe an acceleration of elaborated policy frameworks and incentives from the public sector targeting the same group.

Growing sophistication in the Marketplace

Multiple certification requests and performance requirements go hand in hand with legal compliance and reporting, and constitute a significant barrier to a number of small economic players. A growing number of voluntary labeling and certification systems assuring credibility on claims from the sustainability agenda are also becoming mandatory.

Today there is a significant growth of moral and 'Fair Trade' Standards and initiatives and a strong return to the environmental agenda driven by climate change, resource shortages and loss of biodiversity.

Market based standards impact the SME's more than laws

Over the last 20 years or so, voluntary instruments have been used as additions to regulatory instruments as part of the overall 'toolbox' to foster environmental change. Now however, these instruments have become more important and may potentially trigger better results than traditional laws. Today 70% of Business to business transactions in Europe are subject to technical specifications and ISO 14001 , 50001 , GRI , Fair -Trade, SA 8000, etc. and EMAS are a growing part in this.

Greening the supply chains, meeting the climate change challenge living up to higher ethical and social standards and transparent reporting becomes more and more a license to operate in the marketplace.

Growing standardization is hard for small SME's

The entire range of issues covering the Sustainability agenda is subject to private or public standards worldwide.

Larger SME's and export oriented supply chains are able to comply with this demands from the business, which often are exceeding laws and regulations.

But as 97 % of the world's market is small business , solutions have to be developed to allow small players to access those standards and have market access.

In the same time after the tragedy in Textile Bangladesh in 2013 there is another shift in the focus off applying standardS.

What is asked from the markets and regulators is not simple compliance but performance and transparency and credibility.

Your Management problems on the table

  • Your ISO system is cumbersome, not delivering and too costly. How to make it lean and performing?
  • Global Market requirements and standards seem complex, hard to understand and to apply. How to make them accessible for small players and get them on the learning curve?
  • Consultants, auditors and internal staff requirements entail huge transaction costs. If SME's  need a certificate how to make it cheaper and affordable?
  • The market is asking more disclosure on ethical and social performance. How to communicate and live up to higher modern business requirements?
  • Which are your Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors that most likely add long-term value?
  • Your supply chain is neither green nor fit. How to involve them more efficiently and manage the reputation risks and have a clear narrative?

Heinz Werner Engel has served a number of Organizations worldwide