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The future of fair trade initiatives, switching your money to local and ethical banks, and alternative approaches to business - these have all been looked at in conversations and talks at Just Festival this past month (August 2013), and there is a good deal more coming up in the 'Ethics Before Profit strand of programming.
Looking at the theme more broadly, Kirsty Burnham, the SoLoCo (http://soloco.co.uk) co-founder, explains: "Our current financial crisis has been in part due to a focus on profit and shareholders rather than customers and suppliers.
"However, in the new world of online sharing and transparency, the voices of the consumer and producer are now being listened to and the marketplace is changing its ethics. But there are still hurdles.
"Ethics aren’t cheap. Although Fairtrade is good in principle, if the ensuing retail price is unaffordable then the retailer can’t sell it. If free-range pork from ethical farming results in meat being so expensive that customers prefer to buy from cheaper and unknown sources, then that farm won’t survive.
"Through microfinancing social enterprise we can help to seed and build their future sustainability and customer base, but a workforce costs. To navigate this changing marketplace, experience and knowledge is a currency and workplace learning is a personal investment.
"If achieving this can only be done by working for free then it is an organisation’s responsibility to create a culture that is so enriched, focused and supportive that the benefits outweigh the initial lack of funds to future sustainability.
"Profit is not unethical. It is crucial. It is where those profits go and how they are made that will shape our future direction."
Just Festival, also known simply as Just, runs from 2-26 August 2013. It is based at St John's Church (corner of Princes Street and Lothian Road) and some 27 other venues, and combines artistic and performance style events with conversations, talks, films exhibits and other ways of exploring how to live together creatively in a mixed-belief society.
* Programming relevant to the Ethics Over Profit strand can be found at the foot of the page here: http://tinyurl.com/qanykow
* Ekklesia is a sponsor of Just Festival. Our news, reporting and comment is aggregated at: www.ekklesia.co.uk/justfestivalTweet