1. The tipping point that tilts a system from one behaviour pattern into another. In this case it is the market that consumers are tipping from a place of exploitation and injustice into a place of mutal support and welbeing.
2. The tipping point where people leave a tip for those who made the effort to create the best possible product at the best possible cost with the best possible impact on communities and the environment.
3. The tipping point where businesses get tips about the needs of their target markets. Consumers demands change constantly and to keep track of their priorities is a full time job. Through modern IT we can track which groups of people support which kinds of change and brands can tailor their CSR policies to be more in line with the expectations of their ultimate stakeholder: the people who use their products.
A Step by Step guide through the process:
1. Producer groups apply for consumer support by submitting a format with basic project data and a personal story of someone directly affected by their initiative;
2. This data is entered in a database, capturing categories relevant for consumers. Spot check verification is done where needed;
3. The database is linked to an existing track & trace software that follows the movement of goods from producer to consumer;
4. Once the goods reach the retailer they come with a pack of Point Of Sale display material and an IMPACT MENU card handled by retail staff;
5. Consumers see the product, read about the projects in any of 4 ways: 1)swing-tag, 2)in store barcode scanner, 3)mobile app, 4)menu card at cash counter;
6. If consumer decides to support a project the check out software registers this by scanning the barcode + the amount, this is added to the bill;
7. Retailers report on sales on weekly basis. At this moment donations are tallied and money transferred to our payment gateway along with project ID codes;
8. We pay producer groups in tranches of Rs 20,000 -each after getting report on the related milestone.
Q: Why ask me, poor consumer for money in stead of the rich brands who are making money from me anyway?
A: We agree that brands have a responsibility to re-invest in their supply chain and we want YOU to help them do this in ways that not only benefit producers but are good for the brand itself too. How? By showing them what are the issues YOU –their most important stakeholder- care about, and therefore where exactly you would expect them to invest.
Q: How do we select producer initiatives?
A: First of all there needs to be a commercial relationship. We can only build long term communities of change if there is a healthy trade between producers and buyers.
Second, we check the professional competency of the group to implement a succesful project. Some may need the help of a local NGO or project management expert in which case we refer them to people we know in the area that can advise.
Thirdly, financial traceability is key. Certification schemes are losing support because it is not clear where the premium goes that consumers pay in the shop. Our complementarity depends on how well we are able to track & trace every dollar, euro or ruppee invested in the producer projects.
We connect local groups to trainers on financial management if we feel their project is good but their bookkeeping needs an extra push.
Finally, consumers can suggest areas in which they would like to see more action, and we will suggest these to producers -after all the Tipping Point is about co-creating social change.
Q: What if a project gets no support from consumers?
A: We communicate clearly to producers that there is NO GUARANTEE that their project will get support. If they want to join they need to be ready to go with the flow -even if that means adjusting their project so that it is in line with priorities felt in the market.
There are other avenues for support if the value chain support does not work out. Sometimes we may refer them to other donors / relevant government programs.
Q: How does my money reach the producer group?
A: First of all, we know the producer group because the shop you are in is buying from them. So we could just transfer money through the same chain as the product followed from producer to shop. But that would cost a lot of admin costs and we want to keep those down.
So we set up a payment gateway in India, where shop keepers deposit the amount collected for each project. This is tax deductable but we have to take a 5% admin fee to run our monitoring operations. The gateway keeps track of incoming funds and informs groups on a monthly basis on the progress of fundraising. When groups register a project with us they leave their contact and bank details so we can directly communicate and transfer funds.
To make sure money is well spent we use regular monitoring and evaluation methods, including full payment only after completion of the activities, spot checks and verification by local staff, and reporting protocols including photos and/or video.
Q: What if the amount raised for a project is too low for an international transfer ?
A: We are still studying what is the viable minimum amount that can be transfered, but we think it is around US $25,- so if a product costs $10 and people leave tips of $ 1 this means we need 25 people to support the same project in order for the money to go through.
If the project does not get enough “votes” we give the money to the next closest project addressing the same issue. For example: if you are the only person donating to a water project in village X we will give you money to another water project in village Y.