02 July 2008

UN Report: Doing Good Business with the Poor

The United Nations Development Program just released a potentially groundbreaking new report on how businesses may include the global poor as potential customers--and how the global poor might benefit from collaborating more closely with businesses. Creating Value for All: Strategies for Doing Business with the Poor is part of UNDP's Growing Inclusive Markets Initiative and explores 50 case studies of local and international companies successfully integrating the poor into their business models to "create wealth, spur growth and spark social change." Here are a few highlights from the report:

* In Colombia, the Juan Valdez company is offering higher, more stable incomes to over 500,000 smallscale coffee growers.

* In China, Tsinghua Tongfang markets computers loaded with distance education software to the rural population both for primary and middle school education and for minority language education.

* In the Russia Federation, over 80 percent of Forus Bank's clients are women, most of them in retail businesses; in 2006 the bank helped create 4,250 direct
and 19,950 indirect jobs.

* In Senegal, healthcare organization Pésinet provided an early warning method for monitoring the health conditions of children under age five from low-income
families--the infant mortality rate fell by more than 90 percent between 2002 and 2005--from 120 per 1,000 live births to 8.

* In Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, the liquefied petroleum gas supplied by VidaGas improves the sterility of medical instruments used to deliver babies.

* In the Philippines, Smart, whose network covers over 99 percent of the population, offers low-cost, prepaid mobile phone airtime cards and eases financial transactions through the option to send remittances using short messaging service (SMS) technology. In the full report there are many, many more examples of companies helping countries reach the millennium development goals while not sacrificing on the bottom line.

Cross-posted from UN Dispatch