Institute for Sustainable Commodities (ISCOM)
University / Academia / Research
Globally (various continents)
less than $1,000,000 US
ISCOM applies the principles of sustainable chain management to promote sustainable business. In the Netherlands ISCOM works on sustainable purchasing. In Africa ISCOM organises small-scale farmers and workers to improve their lives and reduce poverty. In this context ISCOM applies the principles of sustainable agriculture and processing and builds up viable business based on partnerships between various parties.
ISCOM’s projects focus on sustainable production and Sustainable Chain Management in particular. This means that the entire production chain is taken into account, from quality management for farmers to marketing and sales. Currently, ISCOM is strongly devoted to the cause of small-scale farmers in developing countries as producers of commodities. Commodities are products – both in agriculture and industry – which in many places in the world are produced in great quantities. Examples are rice, cocoa, coffee, pineapple and French beans.
Here the sustainability strategies take the interests of the farmers are point of departure: sustainable agriculture, poverty reduction and professionalisation.
ISCOM is also active in research – both strategic and applied – from a broader social perspective, such as sustainable purchasing and climate-based policies in developing countries. Moreover, first steps are taken to develop with various partners management courses based on the principles just mentioned.
ISCOM is to contribute to the development of sustainable production methods, in particular to Sustainable Chain Management at different levels (local, national and international).
To realise this, ISCOM applies wherever possible an integrated approach to the running of a company. ISCOM supports companies in learning how to address complex sustainability questions, both from a technological and social point of view.
ISCOM’s integrated approach matches with the Millennium Goals, such as the eradication of poverty and rolling out a worldwide collaboration for development.
ISCOM is both thinking and doing. ISCOM supports companies in developing a sustainability strategy. It also brings together producers and consumers who attach to sustainability.
Clients and Partners
ISCOM has obtained subsidies from different government organisations:
- The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- The Dutch Ministry of Environment (VROM)
- The European Commission
- The Cocoa Buffer Fund of the the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture (LNV)
Various government bodies recognise the need for changes in management and consumer behaviour.
For instance, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs defines sustainable enterprise as a way of running a business which takes into account its societal impacts – irrespective of where and when – and is transparent about it.
It is a matter of being accountable to the society: to citizens, consumers and organisations that represents then and also to the authorities.
ISCOM works together with various organisations who share interests in certain projects. There are different ways of collaboration depending on the situation. Examples of partners are:
- ADM Cocoa B.V., The Netherlands
- Berea Social Foundation (BSF), Ghana
- Waterman Foundation, The Netherlands
- Masterfoods B.V./Mars Inc., The Netherlands
- RIAS (Rabobank), The Netherlands
- SNS Water Fund, The Netherlands
- STCP: Sustainable Tree Crop Program (IITA, Cameroon)
- Farmer organisations in Ghana, Kenya and Cameroon
- Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya
- Partners in the international EPROC Project (sustainable electronic purchasing)
- Partos (Partos is the national platform for Dutch civil society organisations in the international development cooperation sector)
ISCOM has specialised in Sustainable Chain Management of commodities. Projects may involve the entire chain or part of it.
ISCOM: active in intermediating between suppliers of sustainable products and potential clients.
Sustainable Enterprise is often characterised by the tripe-bottom-line People, Planet and Profit. Within this framework profits can only be realised if sustainable product can be actually sold against a reasonable price. Therefore, ISCOM is also active in intermediating between suppliers of sustainable products and potential clients.
ISCOM offers support to companies in the development of sustainable enterprise and Sustainable Chain Management. This support may refer to:
- Formulation of stepwise goals
- Defining a route to reach these goals
- Developing a gradual but well-defined management approach and leadership mode
- Designing of ,market research and a focused market approach
- Formulation of sustainability indicators to monitor whether the actual development is in according with the sustainability
- Development of long-term sustainability scenarios that the various partners in the chain agree with
ISSCOM is executing projects in various countries, there are projects running in Ghana, Kenya, Cameroon and The Netherlands. ISCOM’s projects involve sustainable modes of production and Sustainable Chain Management. The entire chain is taken into consideration, but the action focus is mostly on the upstream part of the chain (agricultural production, logistics and sales). Of course, in future projects other emphases are possible. .
The ISCOM approach
Currently, in many projects ISCOM works together with small-scale farmers. Collaboration is focusing on organising the farmers, developing sales channels and applying sustainable agriculture.
To improve the farmers’ income, it is important to produce certain crops at a fairly large scale and sell them to wholesalers, processing industries or exporters. Before advising the farmers what to grow, the quality of the soil and sales opportunities are investigated.
- All current activities belong to the SUSCAP programme: agricultural projects, a national network of farmer groups (such as cooperatives) and the establishment of a trading company:
- Sayerano: cassava, black pepper and plantain
- Swedru: Organic pineapple and maize
- Tarkwa area: Palm oil
- Kokofu: Oranges
- The Umoja Project: production and sales of French Beans and other vegetables
(by an association of farmers supported by a trading company)
- A rice project near Lake Victoria (supporting a cooperative of rice farmers)
- The Sagana Project: a horticultural project (near Mount Kenya supporting over 400 farmers)
- The Upcocoa Project in Central Cameroon
(supporting 8 cooperatives to become professional organisations)
Sustainable Chain Management
In a chain the final product can be clearly defined while its quality can be judged. However, for a great part the way it is made while passing through the chain is not visible to the final consumer. Many commodities are the final outcome of European or wider international chains governed by many rules, while their sustainability is far from evident. A commodity’s sustainability is dependent on many individual decisions at different stages and levels. ...
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Sustainable Enterprise is enterprise activity which makes sure that short-term results will not be at the detriment of people, environment and future possibilities to create wealth. A frequently used synonym is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
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