01 October 2007

Business–NGO Partnerships Help the World’s Poorest

During the International Trade Forum leading businesses including Adidas, BP and Procter & Gamble committed to CSR:
“We believe that the leading global companies of 2020 will be those that provide goods and services and reach new customers in ways that address the world's major challenges — including poverty, climate change, resource depletion, globalization and demographic shifts.”
The full article on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) website also features a few illustrative example of 'business4good' practices:
  • Unilever is integrating social innovation strategies in its business operations. In India, it teamed up with NGOs to create Shakti, a rural network that sells products adapted to rural customers in more than 100,000 villages, employing 31,000 women. In Indonesia, it teamed up with Oxfam to research and assess the impact of production and distribution processes on poor communities. (Sources: Unilever, Oxfam)
  • Procter & Gamble worked with research institutes and other organizations to create a low-cost ($0.01/litre) water purification product. PuR is mixed with water and filtered through a cloth to remove bacteria, viruses and parasites. One billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Relief agencies use PuR to provide clean drinking water during emergency relief operations. (Source: P&G Health Sciences Institute)
  • Cemex, the world's third largest construction materials firm, has been working with Ashoka fellows to help more than 30,000 low-income families to build affordable, decent houses for themselves. Participants enter a savings and credit programme, get assistance to plan construction work, and benefit from services such as material storage, delivery and price guarantees for two years. This helps the company reach new customers it could not serve before, while helping poor families to improve their living conditions. (Source: Ashoka)
The WBCSD article also talks about tthe rise of social entrepreneurship and poverty as a business challenge. A pretty good read and nice update summary on how business can do good.