Saskia Faltus

Supply chain transparency from field to shelf

Ana Haberbosch is co-founder and CEO of seedtrace, a digital platform that manages, verifies and communicates sustainability and supply chain data to the public. Together with her two co-founders, she runs the now 13-strong tech start-up in Berlin.

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The founders of the Berlin-based start-up seedtrace have set themselves the goal of making supply chain transparency the norm. On the platform they have developed for this purpose, they collect and document information that is comprehensible to all, providing complete proof of the social and ecological impacts along the supply chain. They specialise in food products and strengthen cooperation between all actors. Based on clear impact standards, companies' sustainability claims are categorised and, where possible, verified. Critical data is stored decentralised on a low emission blockchain. Companies can receive labels such as payment above the minimum wage, gender equality or recyclable packaging. "To counteract greenwashing and drive change on a large scale, we need reliable information that is just a click away. This involves understanding where the data comes from and what it means - not just where it is stored," Ana emphasises. After that, the results are shared with the end consumers - e.g., via a QR code or webshop integrations.

The foundation of seedtrace in June 2020 came at an opportune time considering the increasing pressure to comply with social and environmental standards along global supply chains. Until now, there has been no binding law on compliance with human rights and environmental standards for global value chains. Why do we need such a law? One example: today, nearly 80 million children still work under inhumane conditions in factories and on plantations worldwide. To ensure a ban on child and forced labour, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) has been advocating for a "supply chain law" for years. In 2021, the German government finally agreed on a draft law[1].

The so-called act on “Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains” places clear requirements for corporate due diligence obligations. From 2023 onwards, companies with more than 3,000 employees (from 2024 onwards, those with a workforce above 1,000) will have to implement various measures both in their own business areas and those of their direct suppliers:

  1. Declaration of Principles on Respect for Human Rights
  2. Risk analysis
  3. Risk management
  4. Complaints mechanism
  5. Transparent reporting

To identify possible risks as early as possible, these companies will have to take a close look at their suppliers too. It is therefore all the more gratifying that the software developed by seedtrace supports these companies in precisely this regard. Together with the company's project team, seedtrace defines how the five process steps can be best implemented in practice and integrated into the company's internal processes and digital management systems. By mapping the supply chain evidence in resource management, seedtrace helps companies meet the legal requirements for transparent reporting and provides them with a clear USP.

According to a survey from 2019, detailed information about the sustainability of a product increases the likelihood of a purchase decision for seven out of ten respondents[2]. A study conducted by EY confirms that two thirds of consumers in Germany are willing to spend more money on sustainable alternatives[3]. By providing transparent communication based on verified data, seedtrace offers its customers a significant competitive advantage.

Many companies are hesitant to implement new and innovative processes in the face of global uncertainties. At the same time, challenges such as sustainability and transparency along global supply chains cannot be solved alone. Ana therefore greatly appreciates the support of German development cooperation. She is particularly pleased about the cooperation with the Business Scouts for Development (BSfD) programme that came about through leverist.de. The Business Scouts advise companies like seedtrace on development policy issues and promote responsible corporate engagement through cooperation projects. „It is important for us to develop interoperational tools that are easy to use and that digitally minimise the administrative effort while capturing the interfaces in the digital business processes. With seedtrace, this is possible while maintaining data protection, especially the protection of sensitive data on procurement sources in competition," explains Mathias Brandt, Business Scout at the Koblenz Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK Koblenz).

On the added value of leverist.de, the CEO of seedtrace emphasises: "leverist.de offers the ideal connecting point to German development cooperation. On leverist.de, we can search for like-minded partners such as the Business Scouts in no time and jointly develop solutions to global problems".

For financial assistance in the context of innovative product development, Ana is hoping for support from sequa, where she recently submitted a project concept for the Business Scout Fund together with Business Scout Mathias Brandt (IHK Koblenz) and Tamara Moll (IHK Potsdam). As part of this cooperation, they want to map the supply chain of five German SMEs. In addition to the digital embedding of seedtrace in the IT systems of the participating companies and the mapping on blockchain-secured databases, this also includes process consulting on the aforementioned, legally required, five stages of supply chain diligence.

As Business Development & Sales Manager, Ana is convinced that seedtrace has the potential to become the platform for supply chain transparency: „By creating an important and long-forgotten bridge between product origin and point of sale, we want to provide consumers with the necessary information to enable them to make conscious purchasing decisions". For it is only under such circumstances that consumer behaviour can be changed sustainably.

You would like to learn more about the cooperation project between seedtrace and the German Development cooperation? In the second part of this series, we provide a deeper insight into the project, the participating companies and their products.

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The Business Scouts for Development (BSfD) are development specialists working in around 40 countries around the world. On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), they advise German, European and local companies in development policy issues. They promote responsible corporate engagement through cooperation projects. You are interested in collaborating? On leverist.de you can search for the Business Scout responsible for your queries and contact them directly online.

leverist.de is a free online platform operated by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The platform offers collaboration options with the German development cooperation and connects interested companies with experts on the ground.

[1] BMZ Supply chains, 2022. https://www.bmz.de/en/development-policy/supply-chains

[2] Inriver Study, 2019. Nachhaltigkeit und Transparenz begünstigen Kaufentscheidung

[3] EY Study on sustainable consumption, 2020. ey-nachhaltiger-konsum-2020.pdf

© Hero & Body Image: Annie Spratt, Unsplash 2016 & 2017.

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