This week I want to share a proposal we made to the Bureau of International Recycling which details how we could help the BIR bring a virtual conference to their 800 member companies.
The president of the BIR invited me to present to their conference committee in April. At that time lock-downs were in full force everywhere and they had just canceled their spring conference in Istanbul. The BIR president, Tom Bird, expressed concern about the future of conferences which are the most efficient way to for buyers and sellers to meet. They are also a key revenue source for all trading associations, providing capital required to conduct other very important roles such as steering government regulations and improving the health and safety of workers.
Typically the BIR has around 1,000 people in attendance. People fly in to one location from many countries around the world for their semi-annual 3 day conferences. Suddenly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it became apparent that in order for global trade to continue there needs to be a new way for trustworthy people to meet and to conduct business without fear of losses due to the typical unscrupulous trading practices such as contact cancellations, failure to ship, material quality manipulation, exaggerated quality claims and outright fraud.
When people in our industry don't have the ability to meet in person, they miss a very important part of their due diligence process. The Gut Check!
Hundreds of thousands of dollars are sent on trust to sellers well in advance of receiving the first shipment of scrap material. From a buyer's perspective, the opportunity always exists for a seller to mix poor grade materials in with the expected grade. They also worry about situations where a company just keeps their money and closes their business for good. Buyers and sellers both worry about losses from cancelled agreement due to the often drastic change in market prices.
In an effort to avoid these problems, every company has a fairly standard due diligence process which will almost always require an in-person meeting. However, if the current processes were working well, the industry would not be facing losses of $200 million each year to unscrupulous trading practices.
Our product, which makes companies' trading reputations transparent, makes it much easier to find reliable new trading partners. It is also used to hold trading partners accountable. If a deal goes well or something goes wrong, both parties are aware that this can be reported via Tradefox and made visible to almost 4,000 people with Tradefox accounts. This is more power to be used for good than any trade association can provide.
Our greatest challenge is to convince an industry of people, who consider information about companies' reputations to be a proprietary asset, to open up and make this information available to others so that losses from risky trading partners can be avoided.
Hosting the industry's first 2 day virtual conference, will give Tradefox a platform to create the needed movement for change while providing a tangible solution to a real problem the industry is facing. We believe this will be a spark that starts the engine of growth for Tradefox. I hope you enjoy the presentation.
Chris Yerbey, Founder and CEO
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