Meet our responsible production expert, Marjolein Vink
Marjolein Vink works for RVO International, coordinating subsidy programmes. The Social Sustainability Fund (SSF), launched on 2 October, promotes social sustainability in international production chains. SSF has 3 main themes: combatting child labour, improving working conditions and improving the income of small producers and farmers. The Fund for Responsible Business (FVO) and the Fund against Child Labour (FBK) previously covered these themes. Both funds are now closed for applications.
How does RVO support responsible production?
"One of the conditions of our programmes is that companies follow the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) guidelines. Our team helps Dutch companies and local suppliers implement socially responsible business practices. Upcoming legislation will make it mandatory for companies to show how they will avoid and address the negative impacts of their operations. In practice, this can be challenging. Value chains can be long and complex. Often, entrepreneurs do not know the conditions under which their products are made."
What role do you/does your team fulfil?
"Our team advises companies and other parties on identifying social risks in international chains. Dutch entrepreneurs and their local suppliers can apply for funding from SSF to investigate the most important risks or abuses locally. For example, does child labour occur in deeper links in the chain? How safe or unsafe are the working conditions? What wages do workers or farmers get? Once the most important risks are clear, the funding supports measures to improve the local situation."
What motivates you to do this work?
"I want to encourage Dutch companies to take responsibility. Take a critical look at your activities and business processes. This way, I hope to contribute to a fairer trading system, a system where we no longer pass on the negative impacts of making consumer products to farmers, producers or workers in production countries. I hope then that they will not feel the need to let their children work and can send them to school instead."
How do you help entrepreneurs?
"The European Union (EU) will soon introduce CSR legislation. Companies must then map their supply chains on social and environmental risks. We help entrepreneurs with in-company training sessions to prepare them for this development. This helps them analyse their production chains and make an action plan to address risks.
Often, companies do not know where to start identifying abuses in their chains. Through funds such as SSF, we help companies with advice and financial support to do this. We are helping more and more Dutch companies with our funds; we are proud of our expanding portfolio. Especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, this support can be very welcome."
What kind of support does your team offer?
"Any entrepreneur that wants to investigate the negative social impacts of the production process in developing countries can contact us. But, they must be willing to take steps to investigate and address social risks. Entrepreneurs must also be prepared to analyse their operations. SSF can help by funding research. The programme also helps entrepreneurs take measures in their chains and business activities. Also, we share best practices and lessons learnt and stimulate the exchange of knowledge and experiences among companies and other organisations."
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs