Fair Trade and Social Enterprise
By Benjamin Huybrechts
This chapter suggests that the notion of ‘social enterprise’ is useful to capture the DNA of organizations focused on fair trade and to locate them within a broader organizational taxonomy. Without seeking to impose a new term that may not resonate for certain actors or regions, this chapter aims to bring two contributions to fair trade research and practice. First, it is suggested that the social enterprise approach is particularly useful as an analytical tool enabling researchers and other stakeholders to capture the evolution and diversification of organizational models in fair trade. Second, the use of a broader organizational approach that is not specific to the sole fair trade sector allows for connections with similar organizations in other sectors and brings a shift from considering mainly what the organizations do (fair trade in this case) towards also addressing what they are (innovative social enterprise models combining market dynamics with social purpose). This chapter is structured as follows. First, the concept of social enterprise is introduced and discussed. Then, the evolution of the organizational landscape of fair trade (in the North) is summarized. Finally, fair trade organizations are examined in the light of the social enterprise concept, with illustrations from a study in four European countries (Huybrechts 2010a; 2012).