HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation

Helvetas Code of Business Practices


Für Helvetas Fairtrade ist die Nachhaltigkeit das wichtigste Ziel, wobei wir Nachhaltigkeit im Sinne einer ökonomisch erfolgreichen Tätigkeit unter grösstmöglicher Berücksichtigung ökologischer und sozialer Ebenen entlang der gesamten Wertschöpfungskette verstehen. Dabei stehen für Helvetas Fairtrade vor allem die Natur und Menschen in den Entwicklungsländern im Zentrum der Aktivitäten.

Helvetas Fairtrade hat deshalb den Helvetas Code of Business Practice entwickelt, mit dem wir eine partnerschaftliche Zusammenarbeit mit den Lieferanten des Südens sauber regeln wollen. Sowohl die Lieferanten, wie auch Helvetas verpflichten sich, gewisse Richtlinien einzuhalten. Mit Workshops und Dialog sollen die Beziehungen verstärkt werden. Untenstehend können sie die Details dieser Vereinbarung einsehen. (aktuell nur in Englisch vorhanden)



Helvetas Code of Business Practice - Agreement between:


Helvetas                                                                    Producer

Weinbergstrasse 22a                                                 (Address of Production Site)

8021 Zürich                                                              



1.    Preamble

Helvetas has been directly involved in Fair Trade in Switzerland since 1955. Helvetas is one of the co-founders of Max Havelaar Switzerland and supported the establishment of the Fair Trade Labelling Organization (FLO) which is one of the major organizations promoting Fair Trade worldwide.

Through the purchase and sales of products from Social Entrepreneurs and small producers from our partner countries, Helvetas aims to have a positive impact on the life of the people globally. The Code of Business Practices is a framework to create a common understanding and platform for fair negotiation with our long-term partners and to enhance collaboration.


2.     Helvetas Fair Trade Principles

Helvetas is committed to long-term trade relations with producers, and to accomplish this Helvetas utilizes Fair Trade Principles[1]. Fair Trade is an ethical business model designed to empower disadvantaged and marginalized communities with practices[2] that are free from exploitation and based on respect for universal human rights, women's rights, child rights, labour rights, and which incorporates environmentally sound practices. These principles include:


1.    Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Workers

2.    Transparency and Accountability

3.    Trading Practices

4.    Payment of a Fair Price

5.    Child Labour and Forced Labour

6.    Gender Equity and Non Discrimination

7.    Safe Working Conditions

8.    Capacity Building

9.    Promotion of Fair Trade 

10.  Environmental Protection


3.    Compliance

Helvetas maintains progressive, long-term trade relationships with an agreement on business practices which are based on common understandings and mutual trust. Verification of compliance to the contract will be conducted by external auditors with an understanding of the local political, social and cultural contexts and extensive knowledgeable of Fair Trade Principles and Practices. To ensure a fair disposition in the audit, both the Producer and the Buyer will be assessed according to the terms of the contract.

Helvetas will work with the Producer to jointly create a progressive Action Plan which will include identifying areas for improvement, further research, and training in order to enable the Producer to modify current practices in a reasonable timeframe. An Action Plan will be created within 60 days of contracting and agreed upon adjustments will be integrated into existing an Business Plan to ensure compliance within 1 to 3 years from the date of contract.

 * * *

 The signing parties agree integrally with the content of the Helvetas Code of Business Practices and above mentioned requirements and definitions.


 ____________________________                          _____________________

Producer                                                                   Place, Date 


____________________________                          _____________________

Helvetas program office                                           Place, Date 


 ____________________________                          _____________________

Helvetas Switzerland, Buyer                                     Place, Date 

For a detailed breakdown of principles to practices, see Annex 1.

Practices are derived from the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on Children’s Rights, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Woman, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and relevant ILO Conventions as well as additional Environmental Criteria




Annex 1: Helvetas - Fair Trade Practice Requirements

*In the table below, the term “workers” refers to Fair Trade producers, artisans, weavers, farmers, craftswomen and men, employees (all forms, to include temporary, seasonal, part-time and migrant)  and organizational staff.

**The term “Producer” refers to the organization contracting with Helvetas


1.   Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Workers

Definition: “Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers”

Responsibility of Producer

  • Producer’s central aim is poverty reduction by providing opportunities to make a “living wage”.
  • Producer supports marginalized and disadvantaged workers.
  • Producer seeks to enable workers to move from poverty to economic self-sufficiency.
  • Producer supports ongoing community development.
  • Producer has a plan of action to carry this out.  

Responsibility of buyer

  • Helvetas supports marginalized and disadvantaged workers, whether these are independent family businesses, or grouped in associations or co-operatives.
  • Helvetas seeks to enable producers to move from income insecurity and poverty to economic self-sufficiency and ownership.

Reference: Fairtrade Labeling Organization and the World Fair Trade Organization


2.   Transparency and Accountability

Definitions: Transparency implies openness, clear communication, and accountability. In practice transparency with workers includes open meetings, clear and inclusive decision making processes; information about product orders and delivery dates; and providing buyer information and end destinations.

Transparency with buyers includes financial disclosure statements and audits to gauge if and how workers and communities benefit from Fair Trade

Accountability is both responsibility and answerability

Stakeholder is a person, group, organization, or community who can be affected by an organization's actions

Responsibility of producer

  • Producer is transparent in its management and commercial relations, and is accountable to all its stakeholders.
  • Producer respects commercial information and copyrights, and the confidentiality of information supplied.
  • Producer ensures that workers are actively involved in decision-making processes, and guarantees equal participation of women.
  • Producer is responsible for the supply-chain and gives evidence that the workers are the beneficiaries of Fair Trade.
  • Producer provides full transparency of the supply-chain.
  • Producer ensures that relevant information is provided to all suppliers and trading partners.
  • Producer maintains effective and open communication channels with workers and at all levels of the supply chain.

Responsibility of buyer

  • Helvetas is transparent with the producer to include information regarding the value-chain and retail sales.
  • Helvetas maintains effective and open communication channels for the producer. .
  • Helvetas is accountable to consumers.


3.   Trading Practices

  • Producer meets commitments in a timely manner.
  • Producer respect contracts and delivers products on time and to the desired quantity, quality and specifications.
  • Producers consult with Helvetas if there is a problem with the order or delivery.
  • Producer guarantees that a pre payment is passed on to the workers or farmers who make or grow their Fair Trade products.
  • Producer provides compensation when delivered quantities and qualities do not match those invoiced (e.g. fewer products shipped than agreed upon).
  • Producer maintains long-term relationships based on solidarity, trust and mutual respect with Helvetas and suppliers.
  • Producer explores ways to value-add and diversity their product.
  • Producer works cooperatively with the other Fair Trade Organizations in country and avoids unfair competition.
  • Producer avoids duplicating the designs of patterns of other organizations without permission. 


  • Helvetas meets commitments in a timely manner.
  • Helvetas does not maximize profit at the expense of a producer.
  • Helvetas ensures that orders are paid on receipt of documents and guidelines. 
  • An interest free pre payment of 50% is provided. 
  • Helvetas consults with producer before canceling or rejecting orders. 
  • Where orders are cancelled through no fault of producers or suppliers, adequate compensation is guaranteed for work already done.
  • Helvetas provides compensation when delivered quantities and qualities do not match those invoiced (e.g. accidental over shipment).
  • Helvetas maintains long-term relationship with the producer based on solidarity, trust and mutual respect.
  • Helvetas seeks to increase the volume of the trade, works with the producer to find ways to value-add at local levels and diversify products


Reference: Fairtrade Labeling Organization and the World Fair Trade Organization


4.   Payment of a Fair Price

Definitions:A fair price is one that has been mutually agreed by all through dialogue and participation, which provides fair pay to the producers and can also be sustained by the market. Where Fair Trade pricing structures exist, these are used as a minimum. Fair pay means provision of socially acceptable remuneration considered by producers themselves to be fair.” -  World Fair Trade Organization

A Living Wage is designed to provide a minimum estimate of the cost of living for low wage families. The estimate does not reflect a middle class standard of living. The living wage is calculated as a wage sufficient to provide food for an adequate diet and the remaining basic needs for the worker household with an additional 10% added on for discretionary income. For this reason the average number of wage earning adults per household in the target community is included in the calculation. 

Basic needs include food, water, clothing, daily use items, communication and transportation costs, rent and household utilities and maintenance costs, cost of schooling, average monthly medical costs, average monthly social and cultural obligations, etc.

Living Wage Calculation: LW = [ (Average cost of basic needs per HH for 1 month) + 10% Savings] / Average no. of adult wage earners per HH

Responsibility of producer

  • Producer sets minimum wages according to a “Living Wage” calculation in the local context.
  • Producer guarantees equal pay for equal work by women and men.
  • Producer ensures women and men have equal access to skills training and capacity building to increase income generating opportunities.
  • Producer ensures that all workers (including seasonal, homework, migrants) will benefit from the same conditions as permanent workers.

Responsibility of buyer

  • Helvetas supports capacity building for producers as required to enable the producer to set a fair price utilizing the standard of a Living Wage.
  • Helvetas purchases from producer at prices which enable the producer to provide a Living Wage and will adjust for inflation as necessary.
  • Helvetas either directly or through intermediaries, ensures that workers are receiving a Living Wage.
  • Helvetas transfers the Fair Trade Premium of 5 % of the sale price (ex-work) to an earmarked Investment Fund, used for social projects to the benefit of producers / workers. The producers can apply to get max. 5000$ per year for a special project, Helvetas will decide which producers project  will be supported.

Reference: International Labour Organization Conventions C26, C95, C131, C177, R131 and R135


5.   Child Labour and Forced Labour

Definition: To guarantee an appropriate childhood and to attain the full physical and mental development and a sufficient level of schooling, child labour before completion of obligatory schooling and for children less than 15 years of age is strictly prohibited. Any form of coercive employment and forced labour for whatever reason is prohibited. 

Responsibility of producer

  • Producer complies with the national / local law on the employment of children. 
  • Producer guarantees that there is no forced labour in its workforce and / or members or homeworkers, e.g. sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced compulsory labour.  
  • Producer guarantees there is no forced labour in the workforce and / or members or homeworkers of suppliers and throughout the supply chain.
  • Producer ensures that any involvement of children in the production of Fair Trade products (including learning a traditional art or craft) is always disclosed and monitored and does not negatively affect the children’s well-being, health, security, education, and need for play. 
  • Producer is responsible to ensure a Child’s right to well-being, health, security, education, and need for play is respected within the producer worksite and within worker households when applicable.

Responsibility of buyer

  • Helvetas provides the Producer with at least a summary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the national language, and local language if applicable.
  • Helvetas works with Producer to ensure a common understanding of Child Labour versus the passing on of traditional craftsmanship and culture.
  • Helvetas, either directly or through intermediaries, ensures that no forced labour is used in production or throughout the supply chain, and that child rights are respected.

Reference: United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989); and International Labour Organization Conventions C29, C95, C105, C138, C182, R35, R146 and R 190.


6.   Gender Equity and Non Discrimination

Definition: "‘Discrimination against women’ shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.” – United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Article 1

Responsibility of producer

  • Producer does not discriminate in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/Aids status or age.
  • Producer provides equal opportunities for women and men to develop their skills and actively promotes applications from women for job vacancies and for leadership positions in the organization.
  • Producer addresses the special health and safety needs of pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers taking special measures such as providing time off and flexible scheduling as needed to include daily breaks for breastfeeding and cash benefits enabling maintenance of a suitable standard of living.
  • Producer offers whichever is greater: a minimum paid Maternity Leave of not less than 6 weeks or what is established in the national labour laws, regardless of contracting status or time in employment; plus additional leave on an as-needed basis with a guarantee of resuming employment upon return.
  • Producer, if requested and feasible, provides access to safe childcare facilities for all workers.
  • Producer ensures that women are always paid for their contribution to the production process, and when women do the same work as men they are paid at the same rates as men.
  • Producer ensures that women fully participate in decisions concerning the use of benefits accruing from the production process. 
  • Producer ensures that in production situations where women’s work is valued less highly than men’s work, women’s work is re-valued to equalize pay rates and women are allowed to undertake work according to their capacities.

Responsibility of buyer

  • Helvetas provides the Producer with at least a summary of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in the national language, and local language if applicable.
  • Helvetas facilitates training for the management and workers in Gender and Women’s Rights with local or national NGOs or government partners.
  • Helvetas, either directly or through intermediaries, ensures that in practice the Producer complies with the principles of Gender Equity and Non Discrimination

Reference: United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979); and International Labour Organization Conventions C100, C111, C183 and R111.


7.   Safe Working Conditions, No Disciplinary Practices,
and Freedom of Association

Definition: Occupational health and safety is concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment in order to guarantee a safe work place to workers.  

Responsibility of producer

  • Producer provides a safe and healthy working environment for workers and complies with national and local laws and ILO conventions on health and safety.
  • Producer ensures safety equipment is provided, is easily accessible, and all members receive training in proper utilization of the equipment.
  • Producer ensures that members understand health risks involved with production and takes preventative measures; this includes yearly health, safety and sanitary training.
  • Producer actively explores methods to improve health and safety practices.
  • Working time has to be restricted to an appropriate level, defined at 48 hours a week. Overtime is paid according to national standards, and where no standards exist, a minimum of x1.5 benefit for overtime, x2 for weekly holidays and public.
  • Producer is prohibited from all forms of Inhumane Disciplinary Practices, such as use of corporal punishment, mental or physical coercion and physical or verbal abuse.
  • Producer guarantees Freedom of Association which allows workers the right to establish and join any unions or organizations of their own choosing. If this is restricted by law and/or political environment, Producer will enable a means of independent and free association.

Responsibility of buyer

  • Helvetas, on an ongoing basis, raises awareness of health and safety issues and explores new methods to improve health and safety practices.   
  • Helvetas, either directly or through intermediaries, ensures that Producer practices comply with the principles of Safe Working Conditions and No Use of Disciplinary Practices.
  • Helvetas will provide assistance in capacity development and negotiation strategies for union members if requested.

Reference: International Labour Organization Conventions C1, C87, C98,  C154, C155, R143 and R164; and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1975).


8.   Capacity Building

  • Producer actively develops the skills and capabilities of its workers or members, providing equal opportunities for men and women.
  • Producer seeks training measures to value-add to increase local opportunities for income generation.
  • Where gender inequality and imbalances exist, the producer actively encourages and facilitates women’s access to and participation in training programs.


  • Helvetas works directly with small producers develop specific activities to help these producers improve their management skills and production capabilities
  • Helvetas, either directly or through intermediaries, ensures that Producer progressively promotes gender equity and equal access for women and men to training and capacity building programs.



9.   Promotion of Fair Trade 

  • Producer raises awareness of the aim of Fair Trade through their Fair Trade-based business dealings with contracted suppliers and within their communities.
  • Producer provides buyers with information about itself and the members that make or harvest the products. 
  • Producer advertising and marketing techniques are honest.
  • Producer actively searches to diversify markets through efforts to expand Fair Trade in local, national and regional markets.
  • Producer actively supports and participates in local, national and regional Fair Trade Movements, Networks and campaigns.


  • Helvetas raises awareness of the aim of Fair Trade and of the need for greater justice in world trade through Fair Trade.
  • Helvetas provides customers with information about itself, the products it markets, and the producer organizations or members that make or harvest the products. 
  • Helvetas advertising and marketing techniques are honest.
  • Helvetas seeks means for Producer to increase access to local, national, regional, and international markets.
  • Helvetas actively supports, and when possible participates in local, national and regional Fair Trade Movements, Networks and campaigns.



10.  Environmental Protection

Definition: Environmental protection embraces procedures aimed at conserving the natural resources, preserving the current state of natural environment and, where possible, reversing its degradation.

Responsibility of producer

  • Producers are expected to protect the natural environment and climate, to make environmental protection a part of their management strategy and to develop, implement and monitor an operational plan.
  • Producer maximizes the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources, buying locally when possible and assures that wood suppliers do not exploit protected or virgin forest areas.
  • Producer uses production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Producer seeks to minimize the impact of their waste stream on the environment.
  • Producer actively explores organic means or natural processes to replace the use of chemicals. 
  • Producer discloses any use of chemicals throughout the supply chain.
  • Producer uses recycled or easily biodegradable materials for packing to the extent possible, and goods are dispatched by sea wherever possible.

Responsibility of buyer

  • Helvetas gives priority to purchasing products made from raw materials that originate from sustainably managed sources.
  • Helvetas actively seeks to assist the producer through researching viable alternative methods to chemical usage, and provides linkages and appropriate support to producers to access technical training on organic or natural processes.
  • Helvetas encourages and facilitates the producer to attain organic certification where applicable, such as agricultural sector and food producers.

Reference: EU regulation 2092/91

Stand: Januar 2013