Plan B is Plan A for BIDBI

  • Julia Gash
  • 16th June 2013

This week Sir Richard Branson and Puma Chairman Jochen Zeitz got together with a group of international, high profile business leaders to launch an initiative that drives a new set of progress business values that "prioritize people and planet alongside profit". 

Recognising that most business activity depletes the world's resources and tackling issues such as high unemployment, poor working conditions and global inequality, Plan B is an alternative to traditional methods of doing business, for which the number one driver is profit.

At BIDBI this has been our business model from Day 1.  For us, there is no Plan B.  Ethical provenance and ecological principles was factored in to all our business activity when I wrote our first business plan way back in 2007, and before we began trading.  Several years on it still underpins everything we do and, as we make sustainable cloth branded bags, working with fair trade partners in developing countries as well as safeguarding manufacturing jobs in the UK, it is the key reason for our existence.  Our ethical commitment is also set out on the BIDBI website.

As such, Plan B is Plan A for BIDBI.  At times it's been hard, as we've lost business contracts to competitors who can undercut us because their bags are made by paying people in developing countries, less than a living wage whilst our bags are made in Fair Trade certified factories and therefore a little more expensive.  

It's a price I've always thought is worth paying and over the years we've never wavered from sticking to our principle that no business should profit from poverty.  I periodically visit our trusted partners overseas and see at first hand how our business helps support their communities, providing essential, stable employment.


According to, Plan B focuses on 3 key initiatives: "Working under the banners "Future of Leadership," "Future Bottom Line" and "Future of Incentives," the group will investigate how to promote a less short termist and more inclusive approach to corporate leadership, expand corporate accountability to take account of environmental, economic and social impacts and improve corporate and economic incentive structures to remove harmful subsidies and promote responsible behavior."

The Plan B group hosted a live broadcast to announce the intiative to over 200 gatherings in 60 cities around the world.  You can read more about it and sign up to Plan B on its website

I believe that the Plan B Team should think creatively and also engage leaders from the political and business world alike for their ideas and commitment.  I actually think that an import tax on fashion and textile goods that do not carry any form of ethical certification is the way to go as this would counteract the savings made by retailers through relying on unethical trading channels. A positive spin off could be an increased demand for British made garments, which would in effect revive the British fashion industry.  

Whatever they decide, the discussions will be beneficial and so I've signed up to the initiative today.  Plan B is definitely for me!