Fairtrade International’s Digital Journey

In March of this year, TolaData secured the opportunity to collaborate with Fairtrade International, marking the start of an exciting journey into the digitalisation of a large organization’s monitoring and evaluation process with high level aggregation requirements. 


Since winning the tender, our dedicated team has been deeply engaged in supporting Fairtrade’s mission. Through TolaData’s consultancy services, project logframes have been digitized for seamless integration into cross project aggregation.  Training sessions have empowered Fairtrade International teams, supporting them with seamless onboarding onto the platform. Simultaneously, our developers are actively crafting a custom feature tailored for Fairtrade’s large scale aggregation, collaborating closely with Fairtrade on the development of a global indicator library. 


Our involvement reached a significant milestone when we were asked to write a newsletter on the deployment of TolaData within the organisation to accompany an internal event Fairtrade was hosting. This event titled “Impact Community of Practice” offered a space for Fairtrade to discuss its monitoring and evaluation process. Notably, we were honored to learn that Lukas Marx, a fellow TolaData client, was invited independently by Fairtrade to share his experiences at the event. Lukas shared invaluable insights into leveraging TolaData for GIZ’s Rural Youth Employment initiative in sub-Saharan Africa.


This blog post unveils the newsletter which accompanied the event, offering an in-depth exploration of TolaData’s transformative impact in Fairtrade’s DONUTS program. To learn more about the roll-out of TolaData within Fairtrade International, read the newsletter below, or download it here.

Dear Fairtrade Community,

We are delighted to introduce you to an exciting chapter in our journey of Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (MEL) towards impactful change and effective project management. In May this year, Fairtrade International’s Global Impact unit partnered with TolaData, a digital monitoring and evaluation tool tailored for the not-for-profit sector.

With the introduction of TolaData as a common monitoring data platform, our data management and monitoring capabilities have been streamlined and made more efficient. This digital platform offers a range of features that simplify data collection, management, analysis, visualization, and reporting, ultimately strengthening our ability to communicate and showcase Fairtrade’s lasting impact. Since the rollout of the platform, several projects and programmes across the three Producer Networks, including LEAP, DONUTS, Intercitrus II, West African Cocoa Programme, among others, have successfully onboarded and are utilizing this platform to optimize their impact monitoring activities.

In this newsletter, we will share some insights from the DONUTS programme on the transition of its MEL processes to the TolaData platform amongst its 13 contributing projects.

"The platform is very easy to use, with tutorials and responsive technical support. For monitoring projects, managing indicators, data collection, and reporting, it is incredibly useful, allowing us to have everything in one place. Moreover, creating dashboards adds value to the project monitoring process"

Inside the DONUTS programme:

The DONUTS Programme is a four-year initiative with the aim of promoting justice, fairness, empowerment, and the attainment of sustainable livelihoods for marginalized farmers and workers in the agricultural sector. It operates in multiple countries, primarily across Africa, focusing on enhancing the well-being of individuals engaged in produce organizations. DONUTS acts as an acronym for “Dignified Opportunities, Nurtured through Trade, and Sustainability”.

To achieve its aim, the DONUTS programme focuses on three crucial priority areas:

1. Social Sustainability: Inclusion, civil society collaboration, and ensuring all community members benefit from the supply chain. 

2. Economic Sustainability: Decent working conditions, living income for farmers, and enhanced resilience to risks. 

3. Ecological Sustainability: Mitigating the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.

To achieve its aim, the DONUTS programme focuses on three crucial priority areas.

This multifaceted approach is designed to improve livelihoods of workers and farmers in various dimensions, making the DONUTS project a comprehensive and impactful programme within the Fairtrade system.

Penta Roses, Flowers & Flower Farms by Situma Siepete

The Challenge of Managing Increasing Projects for DONUTS

As the DONUTS programme expanded to encompass more projects, there was a need to use a digital solution that was effective at managing programme processes and consolidating data and information. Fairtrade International had already conducted a rigorous market scan to find a solution that was user-friendly, easy to deploy, and allowed for the aggregation of data across multiple projects. Through this research, Fairtrade International had selected TolaData. Subsequently, DONUTS decided to adopt TolaData.

Coffee Fields by Santiago Engelhardt

DONUTS' Transition to TolaData

The roll out of TolaData for the DONUTS programme brought with it a range of opportunities for tracking and managing programme/ projects processes, documentation and analysis of indicator data and information.

Screenshot of results framework tree visualising the project log frame.

The setup of existing project structures for the DONUTS programme in TolaData was largely a seamless process as the platform could accommodate existing data which was in Excel and CSV format. TolaData supports a range of different data types as well as API integration with data collection tools KoboToolbox and ONA. The ability to import existing machine-readable data meant that projects could easily be constructed in TolaData and ready for the DONUTS team to begin adding, monitoring, and measuring their data.

The DONUTS programme team worked closely with the TolaData advisors to set up their project structure, benefiting from the available consultancy support. This collaboration facilitated the seamless conversion of project-specific Excel log frames into an integrated indicator workflow, connecting project data to the programme level result areas.

The transition to TolaData did come with its share of challenges. One such challenge came in relation to capacity building and adapting to new workflows. To overcome such obstacles Fairtrade International intends to utilize TolaData’s extensive range of trainings to empower its staff members to use the new digital monitoring and evaluation tool.

“Toladata provides an effective platform for tracking and managing processes and results for projects and programmes”

A Collaborative Journey with TolaData

The collaboration with TolaData extends outside of the DONUTS programme as Fairtrade International is working closely with TolaData in the development of a new custom-built feature for the platform – The Global Indicator Library. This feature will entail a library of Fairtrade International indicators which are defined by system administrators and available to pull into any project. The Global Indicator Library will promote standardized indicators and increase the ability to aggregate project-level data across the Fairtrade portfolio of projects. This exciting new feature is set to be deployed in early 2024. We also anticipate the deployment of a new a discussion and commenting feature which will provide users with various spaces for discussion throughout the platform ensuring clear and accountable data flows. This feature is set to be deployed by the end of this year.

Looking forward to 2024, we are excited to continue our collaboration with TolaData. The year holds exciting prospects as we plan to onboard new projects and programmes onto the platform, extending the advantages of TolaData’s efficiency and effectiveness to more of our projects and programmes. We will provide training on new features, and together with the Global Resource and Mobilization (GRM) working group, explore the project management capabilities of the platform to enhance system-wide project management.

Screenshot of indicator workflow from a DONUTS contributing project.

As we continue to work together and make further strides in our journey, we look forward to the possibilities that TolaData brings to the table. We hope you found this newsletter both informative and inspiring.

Author: Aoife Doran 

Special thanks to: Dr. Baba Adam, Kipruto Tallam & Karl Binger 


Cover picture: Photograph of Finda Kouadio Thodore & Konan Amalan Cile by Mohamed Aly Diabat

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A monthly round-up of news and useful links on the digitisation of the sustainable development sector, from the team at TolaData

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