Business Fights Poverty Fortnightly Round-Up

By Annabel Beales, Writer, Business Fights Poverty

Contributions from across the Business Fights Poverty community have shone a light on how businesses and their partners are continuing to build long-term resilience in the wake of COVID-19, including supporting the wellbeing and potential of vulnerable workers in agricultural supply chains.

It is nearly a year since Business Fights Poverty launched the Business & COVID-19 response centre. From the initial urgent response, to matters of longer-term recovery and resilience, organisations from across our community are holding fast to their commitment to help the most vulnerable. This week, we’ve highlighted three areas in which the global community is tackling the complex challenges head-on.

  • Will you partner with us to help small businesses survive the pandemic, thrive in the aftermath, and build self-reliance? Clive Allison, Global Sustainability Director, Unilever is calling for concrete action to boost small business’ resilience and recovery from COVID-19. In December last year, Unilever, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and EY launched TRANSFORM Survive & Thrive, ‘a collaborative platform that helps to support and scale business models that will build resilience.’ They are particularly seeking collaborations with those who can offer human resources, legal or financial support, or guidance on business models and strategies.
  • COVID-19 has accelerated the pace at which factories across the world are digitizing. Whilst this can sometimes bring benefits for workers, for example in introducing digital wages, digitization poses a risk to the human rights of vulnerable workers who may lack information, power and skills they need at a time of disruption. In Data and Tech Acceleration in COVID-19: The Human Rights Impact on Vulnerable Garment Workers, Jessica Witten, HERproject Associate, Hannah Ellis, Associate and Lale Tekisalp, Associate, BSR provide insights from their recent report on the human rights impact of digitization on workers, particularly women, and what companies can do to guard against these risks.
  • According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, poorer countries may not be able to vaccinate the majority of their populations until 2024, if at all. In their article, COVID-19: Long-term support for biotech yields vaccine promise in Cuba, Jenny Larsen and Charles Arthur, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) highlight the success of Cuba in developing its own COVID-19 vaccines, and ask whether lessons can be learned from Cuba’s experience to help speed mass vaccination in developing countries.
  • In these uncertain times, trust in institutions is even more important than ever, but unfortunately the recent 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed a crisis of trust in institutions. Although business was revealed to be the most trusted institution, the financial sector remains the lowest trusted sector – a position it has held for the last ten years. Nevertheless, the finance sector has huge potential to be a source of positive change in the world. In her article, In finance we trust, Pratik Desai, World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA), provides an insight into WBA’s recent report, which draws together lessons from months of consultation with stakeholder groups, and lays the groundwork for a new benchmark to assess 400 influential financial institutions on their performance towards the SDGs.

Other articles have highlighted the power of partnerships to transform opportunities and wellbeing for vulnerable workers in agricultural supply chains:

  • A Love Story Turned Passion Project, Kevin Groom from Chocolate and Love gives an insight into how founders Richard O’Connor, a chartered surveyor, and Birgitte Hovmand, a lawyer, set up their growing family business Chocolate and Love. Their ethical organic chocolate brand drives social change by placing a high value on the quality of its relationships with farmers, buyers and consumers.
  • Another partnership, this time between CARE and Cargill, is improving opportunity and wellbeing for cocoa growers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. In Transforming lives together, they share a crucial lesson from their decade-long partnership, recognising ‘the multiplier effect that occurs when we prioritize working together.’

And finally, please do join us on 9-11 March for the Rebuild Better Virtual Summit on Gender. Our free live webinars, fireside chats and a host of supporting resources will explore how business can help to support women’s leadership as well as breaking down barriers to women’s economic empowerment.

    • Tuesday 9 March: How can we unleash women’s enterprise? Hosted with UN Women 
    • Wednesday 10 March: How can we tackle GBV in the workplace? Hosted with Care International UK
    • Thursday 11 March: Empowering women in Agricultural Value Chains. Hosted by Business Fights Poverty

You’ll hear practical examples of action from across different regions and organisations, deepen your knowledge of the issues, and gain actionable insights to apply in your own work. We look forward to an energising and lively discussion!

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