September 21, 2010
New York - Over 200 leaders from business and government recently convened in New York to discuss the powerful role that business can play in accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The BCtA played an active role in convening the Inclusive Business-themed event on 21 September and invited key member companies including Anglo American and LifeSpring Hospitals to present on their BCtA initiatives. WATCH THE VIDEOS HERE.
The event took place during the United Nations Summit on the MDGs (20-22 September), a special summit convened by the UN Secretary-General to take stock of achievements to date and drive progress to meet the 2015 target for the MDGs. View the agenda here.
Cynthia Carroll, CEO of Anglo American talked about 'Anglo American Zimele' - a corporate enterprise development programme that has grown to become one of the most successful of its kind in the world. The fund creates and develops commercially viable and sustainable small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by providing empowerment opportunities for previously disadvantaged South Africans, with the 'Zone of Excellence' bringing suppliers together to build efficiencies. With a current run of 2 loans granted per day and 25% of the businesses run by women, Anglo American want to promote 15,000 businesses and create up to 25,000 new jobs by 2015.
Nick Blazquez, Managing Director of Diageo, Africa presented a case study showcasing how Diageo saw the opportunity for a low-cost beer targeted at poor who cannot afford big brands 50% of the alcohol these consumers were drinking 5 years ago was illicit and very damaging to health. Diageo worked with the local government to take the duty tax off the beer for that market and developed a local supply chain of sorghum, developing local Sorghum Beer at 15-20 Shillings (as opposed to their main brand Tusker priced at 80 Shillings). As a result, this stimulated the economy and Diageo improved its share of market, creating a win-win situation. Nick stated: Doing good is good for business."
Euan Wilmshurst, International Government Relations Manager for The Coca Cola Company explained how the Business Call to Action initiative is key to their business and shared ideas for the various logistical routes to market for a company's product. He stressed on the importance of business-to-business collaborations, stating "it's not only the right thing to do, it makes good business sense.
The workshop provided a platform to challenge, and highlighted the sense of achievement and momentum gained in the inclusive business arena via case studies. Key takeaways and learnings included:
Other eminent speakers at the event included Anant Kumar, CEO of India's LifeSpring Hospitals; Roberto Salas, President, GrupoNueva & CEO, Masisa and Jane Nelson, Senior Fellow and Director of the CSR Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
The Millennium UN Plaza Hotel New York played host to this special event, which represented a collaborative effort by leading global business networks and initiatives to rally business expertise in advancing the development and scaling up of Inclusive Business models as a major contribution to achieving the MDGs. The workshop offered an opportunity to advance the Inclusive Business agenda and stimulate further action through in-depth learning by sharing sessions facilitated by experts in the field.
What is Inclusive Business and what is its role in achieving the MDGs?
Inclusive Business involves doing business with low-income populations across companies' value chains, incorporating them in the supply, production, distribution and/or marketing of goods and services. This generates new jobs, incomes, technical skills and local capacity. Likewise, poorer consumers can benefit from products and services that meet their needs in affordable ways.
Business is taking a proactive role in addressing development challenges through Inclusive Business by helping provide sustainable business solutions that expand access to goods, services, and livelihood opportunities for low-income communities whilst remaining commercially viable.
For more information about the event, please visit the event Website where you will find a podcast of the event, presentations and video links.
For more on the Millennium Development Goals, visit www.undp.org/mdg.