Bringing ethics to Africa's supply chains
Companies across the world with interests in Africa are facing increased consumer scrutiny which not only raises the bar for supply chain managers, but also has the potential to improve pay, conditions, and standards across the continent.
Patricia Chin-Sweeney is senior partner at I-DEV International, a global advisory firm, has noted that companies, often unknowingly, are receiving products or materials that are obtained from unethical sources.
As consumers become more aware and as subsequent demand for change grows, companies are beginning to increase their attention at each stage of the supply chain.
However supply chain managers still need to become more involved at the sourcing stage, not simply stopping at the middle men.
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Chin-Sweeney commented on how sources are often removed from the picture, with management having no other option but to rely on regional players: “They are less familiar with what is happening on the ground, and that is a risk. Many times companies didn’t realise that these things were happening because they relied on middleman”
Aside from the issue of ethical sourcing, African companies and producers have also come under pressure to meet international regulations and standards (the ongoing AGOA debates are perhaps the best example.)
It is therefore clear that companies should be providing additional investment towards ensuring that producers can meet global standards.
Chin-Sweeny noted that multinationals could provide the right stimulus for this to happen, she said: “A lot of suppliers are dependent on big buyers. They won’t have a business if no one is buying from them. So companies can start with addressing what they can.”