Global business leaders call on peers to ‘do well by doing good’

By David Faulmann,

Some of the world’s leading business people gathered together in Melbourne and Sydney this week to explore how corporations can create a more economically inclusive future for the world’s poor.

The Business for Millennium Development (B4MD) Creating Shared Value Summit was an opportunity to set a global trend for inclusive business.

Speaking at the Melbourne Summit, Marius Kloppers CEO of BHP Billiton said, ”We want to create a more profound inter-linkage with communities, engage those communities more in supplying our businesses and make sure those communities benefit from our presence”. He went on to say, “think of every dollar in the supply chain as a potential tool for social good.”

Kloppers was not alone in his call to corporate Australia to do well by doing good. The Summit was attended by senior executives and CEO’s of Australia’s largest companies and was moderated by Gib Bulloch Executive Director, Accenture Development Partnerships. Participants included:

– Andrew Stevens, Managing Director, IBM Aus/NZ

– Vanessa Slowey, CEO, Digicel Pacific

– Sunil D’Souza, Head of PepsiCo Philippines

– Saria Sadique, Managing Director, BASF Bangladesh

– Peter Botten, Managing Director, Oil Search

– Simon McKeon, Chairman, B4MD

The summit was a landmark occasion, in which Australian leaders (and many international leaders) had come together to explore how corporations can create a future of mutual economic development in poor countries.

These leading business people spoke personally about their experience doing commercially viable business in the developing world while helping to create wealth amongst poor communities, demonstrating how inclusive business ventures are re-shaping the relationship between corporations and the communities in which they operate.

In what was a divergence from traditional CSR and philanthropic models, it became clear from the views presented by the panel that business is best harnessed for social purpose when it generates profitable and inclusive growth opportunities.

One of the key messages discussed by many of the leaders was that inclusive business needs to be underpinned by a robust profit-making business model, otherwise they are no different from traditional philanthropy. In short, inclusive business is about business opportunity, according to Peter Botten of Oil Search.

B4MD Chairman, and the Australian of the Year for 2011 Simon McKeon challenged the audience to recognise that inclusive business does not ask companies to spend with no return, but rather invest through core business activities for mutual economic gain.

For a video of Marius Kloppers’ remarks at the Summit click here.

Editor’s Note:

Business for Millennium Development (B4MD) is an independent not-for- profit organisation that encourages and facilitates inclusive business activities that contribute to the Millennium Development Goals. B4MD helps its members build commercially viable, scalable business enterprises focused on Poverty Reduction.

Follow B4MD on twitter at @b4md.

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