Are your suppliers setting the right standards?

What a difference a week makes,,, from city banking seminars to the depths of the Himalayas!!! I’m here in the delightful town of Pokhara and was lucky to see the mountains. The paragliders are out in force as this is apparently one of the best season for thermals. I’m just back from 6 days trekking in the mountains where the locals rely on a labyrinth of paths to get around and although many now have electricity, running water, indoor toilets, TV and internet which we all take for granted, are still relatively rare. One young Nepali told me that he learnt English using the only English book in his village – now that’s determination. It’s hard to describe a Nepali smile but it makes you glow from the inside out. This country has some of the most friendly and hospitable people I have ever met. In contrast to Venezuela I do not feel unsafe at night which is just as well as the town suffers from frequent power cuts.

Several taxi drivers have explained that Nepal is now on its 112th government and Feb 22 was the date set for a strike in the capital Kathmandu. I caught a glimpse of the Maoists riding into the city in a convoy of motorbikes carrying their distinctive blue flag. As we gear up for our elections just imagine what life would be like if we were changing governments every few months like the Nepalis.

Having just come off the mountain the one thing that struck me is that we do need to think more about how we buy services such as travel. What appalled me was how many porters I saw carrying ridiculously heavy loads of 40kg or more and some of those guilty travel companies featuring Nepal need to be named and shamed about this. It’s tough enough coping with precipitous steep paths at high altitudes with a daypack, let alone with 40kg on your back. In some parts of the world it is clear that we are still treating humans like animals and we need to think carefully about how our trading partners and supply chain are treating their workers. We have to thank the many campaigers who have raised awareness of this issue and who have put pressure on many famous brands to develop ethical standards. So my question for Enterprise Britain is to know how your suppliers are treating their people (wherever they are) – it’s an issue no brand can afford to ignore.

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