Frequently asked questions of the Fair Congo initiatives:
What is the difference between Fair Congo, sarl and the Fair Congo Foundation?
Fair Congo, sarl (www.faircongo.com) is a for-profit export company operating under the standards designed by the Fair Congo Foundation and its stakeholders. Fair Congo, sarl is the first and only exporter adhering to OECD guidelines and the first and only maintaining a ‘fair trade’ standard.
The Fair Congo Foundation (www.faircongo.org) is a non-profit whose principle task is to manage the export standards of Fair Congo, sarl. The Foundation also manages several women and youth empowerment initiatives and promotes and markets artwork from the DRC.
How does Fair Congo maintain its chain of custody?
Each level of the supply chain goes through individual training and is provided with equipment and materials to ensure a well documented and compliant chain of custody. Inventory controlled, tamper-evident bags are used along each step to prevent contamination. For more information please read our material sourcing guide or details on our OECD compliance.
Does Fair Congo use a ‘mass balance’ approach or use segregation?
Fair Congo segregates its material based on the material standard level, ie eco-friendly, and has full capacity to further segregate material based on material recipient requirements such as site designation to importer, material sourced from particularly designated sites for particular importers. Simply put, if you as an importer want your material kept separate and not mixed with any other material, no problem, we can do that! Fair Congo is happy to meet any unique material requirements so please contact us today.
What kind of traceability and due diligence measures does Fair Congo use?
Material traceability is maintained through the use of a verified documentation process, due diligence of every level in the supply chain, consistent site monitoring and, in the case of ASM gold, use of spectrograph technology. For more information on our due diligence documentation please contact us. You may also find more details by reading our material sourcing guide or details on our OECD compliance.
How does Fair Congo monitor mine sites to ensure continued compliance with the Fair Congo standards set by the Fair Congo Foundation’s board of advisors?
Fair Congo monitors sites directly with regular, consistent physical inspections. Fair Congo also works closely with civil society to understand what happens at sites between inspections. Plans for the deployment of drones to inspect the more rural and difficult to reach sites is currently being developed.
How does Fair Congo ensure that material from non-certified sites does not ‘leak’ into its supply chain?
Through a combination of the Fair Congo due diligence, strong management systems, traceability and chain of custody measures in place we maintain the most robust sourcing system possible. No one step of our process is without redundancy, ensuring that even when one piece of the chain may fail, another covers it to ensure the integrity is not lost.
What does Fair Congo do to ensure the worst forms of child labor are not practiced at its sourcing sites?
Child labor in general is a very complicated and often culturally complicated answer. However, labor which puts the child in danger is unacceptable in any level or any location. Fair Congo follows guidance provided by OECD which provides practical actions to address this concern. The Fair Congo Foundation and it’s funding partner Chambers Federation are implementing numerous projects to empower women and help keep children out of any involvement in the supply chain. Children can be found at sourcing sites often not always because they are engaged in dangerous or hard labor but because their family, their mother, is there working and they have no where else to be. Empowering women has been at the core of the majority of investments made by the Chambers Federation as it is with the funding of the Fair Congo initiatives. That doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t be allowed to work at the sourcing sites, but rather that they should be empowered with options, especially when they are mothers. Through this empowerment their incomes are increased and then able to afford schooling for their children. In addition to empowering women, Fair Congo works with local government and civil society to monitor sites specifically to ensure children are not put at risk.
Why doesn’t Fair Congo work with one of the commonly recognized Fair Trade labeling brands?
Simply, they don’t work in our area. Fair Congo reached out to all of the major fair trade labels and not one is actively working in DRC. On top of that, the majority of the labels place a financial burden on the communities that produce what they call ‘fair trade’ products. Consumer’s naturally believe that because a product is labeled ‘fair trade’ that it means the producer received a higher level of compensation. That isn’t always true, especially in context of gold. Fair Congo is, however, engaging the several fair trade organizations to work in collaboration, with an end goal to become a member and widely recognized supplier of fair trade material. The difference with Fair Congo is, we ensure those higher values are actually realized at the sourcing sites and that any cost of certification or audit is born by us, not the community. You can read more about how we define fair trade here.
Is the Fair Congo supply chain perfect or infallible?
No, of course not, but we have built in the most robust due diligence measures to ensure quick adaptability and installed the strongest measures to mitigate as much risk as possible. The Fair Congo initiatives work with and depend on all of the stakeholders, most importantly the local community and civil society. It is also important to understand that OECD guidelines do not expect perfection but rather a supply chains capacity to understand and adapt to risks.
Have a question not answered here? Contact us today!