How can business support the most vulnerable in value chains and communities in the face of COVID-19?

Business Fights Poverty is coordinating an urgent process across businesses to accelerate local action and support real-time best-practice learning across markets. The work is being spearheaded by Myriam Sidibe, renowned handwashing expert, and anchored around country-level action, including the National Business Compact on COVID-19, a national business coalition campaign in Kenya.

The global knowledge-sharing process is in partnership with the Corporate Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School, and a growing coalition of business networks, including Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD), an initiative of the United States Council for International Business, and UNDP Business Call to Action.

How can business accelerate career opportunity for entry-level workers to ensure the future of work is strong and inclusive?

This challenge explores how companies are responding to disruptive trends affecting the Future of Work, such as automation, the rise of artificial intelligence, and new forms of independent employment and how they are preparing their workforce for these transitions. Our challenge focuses on the most impacted people– the entry level workers, and how can business accelerate their upward mobility as jobs are changing and the set of skills and capabilities required evolve.

We are also looking into how business, governments and non-profit organisations should come together and collaborate on this topic.

What more can international donors do to increase business’ contribution to the SDGs?

To help deliver the additional $2.5 trillion annual investment in developing countries needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), government donors are increasingly seeking to harness the contribution of business.

Against this backdrop, Business Fights Poverty is aiming to identify what large companies most need and value from government donors to advance responsible business practices and inclusive business models, how these needs are evolving and what new gaps and opportunities are there for government donors to increase the scale and impact of large company contributions to the SDGs.

The results of a process of research and engagement with business will help to inform the development of DFID’s next generation of responsible and inclusive business programming.

How can consumer goods companies harness technology to most effectively tackle modern slavery in their global supply chains?

According to the Global Slavery Index, 40.3 million people are in some form of modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour. The ILO reports that US$150 billion of illegal profits are generated by forced labour each year.

This Challenge focuses on the use of technology to tackle modern slavery in global supply chains. Applications that strengthen grievance-raising and remediation mechanisms will be priority areas, alongside a focus on transparency around recruitment processes. We aim to strengthen partner companies’ ability to scale responsible recruitment and employment practices in their supply chains through technology, and to strengthen relationships and the exchange of learning between consumer goods companies and other stakeholders working on human trafficking and forced labour.

How can business advance gender equality across the value chain by engaging men as allies?

Men have a critical role to play in achieving gender equality. What is less clear is what this might mean in practice for organisations in their approach to advance gender equality. A new Business Fights Poverty Challenge will explore how businesses and organisations are promoting gender equality across the value chain (spanning agriculture, supply, operations, distribution, retail, and marketing) by effectively engaging engaging men.

Challenge partners, AB InBev, CARE and Stanford University’s VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab, aim to highlight lessons learned and deepen understanding of innovative approaches to advance gender equality and engage men as allies for gender equality, across complex value chains.

How can we embed purpose authentically into business?

Talk of “purpose”, “sustainability” and business as “a force for good” – it is for real or just rhetoric?

The common ground between those who believe in the impact of purposeful business and those who question it, is a desire for authenticity; the recognition that we need to move beyond the rhetoric of purpose towards embedding it meaningfully and consistently across businesses.

We need an honest discussion about how this can be done, recognising where progress is being made and where actions are falling short.

This Challenge will explore how we embed purpose authentically within business.

What role can business play in tackling gender-based violence?

It is widely recognised that gender-based violence (GBV) has numerous negative consequences on society, and involves a set of complex issues such as power relations, social norms and values, culture and access to education and healthcare. A wide variety of initiatives and campaigns have been launched in an attempt to reduce incidences of GBV and its effects. Companies have also responded by joining movements and introducing policies, but GBV still has a high prevalence.

This Challenge will aim to deepen business understanding of the issue of GBV, and explore what more they can do, based on practical case studies and evidence. Ultimately, we aim to help companies develop and deliver commitments on GBV.

What can large businesses do to strengthen small business ecosystems in frontier markets?

Large businesses operating in frontier markets rely on many Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in their extended value chain: as direct suppliers, distributors, customers and providers of complementary products or services. As these small businesses can find it difficult to engage and/or deliver on time and at the quality needed, large businesses have an incentive to invest in strengthening their effectiveness and efficiency through, for example, training or finance. This Challenge will explore how companies can increase the effectiveness of their support by taking an “ecosystems” approach to MSME development.

An ecosystems approach starts from an understanding of the multiple external constraints an MSME faces - such as difficulties in accessing finance, weak infrastructure, regulatory burdens, and capacity or information constraints - and then working, often in partnership, to tackle these. In some cases, the company may choose to go further and target MSMEs beyond their own value chains and/or focus on strengthening the wider system, such as the financial or regulatory system.

How can we build transformational corporate-NGO partnerships?

Cargill and CARE’s 50-year partnership offers insights and lessons for anyone looking to build an effective and long- term partnership. This Challenge seeks to draw on how this and other corporate-NGO partnerships have evolved from primarily philanthropic relationships to ones that genuinely draw on the capabilities, skills and resources of the partners. The Challenge will include in-person and online events.

How can we engage SMEs exporting to frontier markets with the case for doing business with integrity?

Bribery and corruption are major barriers to global trade and investment. The UK Government's Business Integrity Initiative (BII) aims to build a successful British business presence in frontier markets while promoting high standards of integrity and ethical behaviour in line with the 2010 UK Bribery Act.

Initial Research among UK businesses, in particular Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), suggests, on the one hand, a lack of awareness and understanding of the corruption risks associated with exporting to frontier markets and the requirements of the UK Bribery Act and, on the other, the potential business benefits that can arise from doing business responsibly.

This Challenge, with support from the UK's Department for International Development, has explored how to engage SMEs doing business in frontier markets with the benefits of putting integrity at the heart of business strategy and practice.


Malnutrition is a Business Issue, Explain Maniza and Alok

Why is Malnutrition a business issue? The link between malnutrition and poverty might be an obvious one. The links between malnutrition and business are perhaps less so. During this conversation we are going to deep dive into both, whilst looking at the intersections between nutrition, climate change, conflict and communicable disease. As the world braces […]

What is Climate Justice, with Tara, Chris and Javier

What is climate justice and why should business put people at the heart of their climate action? Tara Shine, Co-CEO at Change By Degrees, Chris Coulter, CEO at GlobeScan, and Javier Aliaga, the Director of Fairtrade’s Center of Excellence in Climate and Environment joined together live during COP27 on Twitter Space and this is what […]

Palm Oil and Climate Justice with Anita Neville

Palm oil and climate justice – what is the story? Social impact pioneer, Anita Neville, helps us unpack this complex topic. This podcast forms part of a series – examining how business addresses climate justice. Together, we hear how businesses are working to put people at the heart of their climate action. Listen to this […]



Who’s Putting the ‘S’ in ESG?

Lately, ESG is mostly in the news for the wrong reasons. Reading certain articles, it can seem as though some companies are happy to reap the benefits of seeming good, while shifting expenses (e.g., pollution) onto society. However, a lot of the negative coverage references ESG in its role as a guidance for investors (i.e., ESG for Assurance), despite the fact […]

By Lev Fejes, Ph.D., EVPA Corporate Initiative Research Manager


How Farmer Segmentation Can Strengthen Supply Chains and Better Support Smallholder Farmers

Around the world, there are 35 million smallholder farming households participating in global supply chains. Yet, the contributions of smallholder farmers to the global economy are deeply undervalued. Despite playing a critical role in our daily lives and in our economy, as many as 24 million of those households, more than 122 million people in […]

By Lisa Manley, Vice-President, Sustainability, Mars Inc. Zahid Torres-Rahman, CEO, Business Fights Poverty

Farmer Wheat


I’ll Be There For You Even When You’re On The Other Side

I’ll Be There For You Even When You’re On The Other Side Of course, friendship is its own bridge with others, but could one be friends with someone who is your opposite? With whom you disagree on just about everything? With someone on “the other side?” The answer is yes and that’s what this video […]

By Timothy L. Fort, PhD, JD, Eveleigh Professor of Business Ethics, Kelley School of Business at Indiana University


COP27: A Historic But Insufficient Move Towards Climate Justice

For two weeks in November colleagues from Practical Action have been in Sharm El-Sheikh at the UN climate change conference, COP27. We were there to ensure that the voices of the people we work with in some of the world’s most climate vulnerable places were heard as global leaders took decisions about their futures. For […]

By Practical Action

Group photo at COP27


Stronger Together: How the Food Fortification Ecosystem Can Fight Malnutrition

Stronger together – how the food fortification ecosystem can fight malnutrition by supporting small and medium-sized millers What do the World Food Programme, BASF, Royal DSM and Nigeria Flour Mills have in common? They all recognize the key role of small-scale and medium-sized millers to bring food fortification to scale, as part of national strategies […]

By Jane Nelson, Dominic Schofield and Christina Tewes-Gradl


How Businesses Can Make Their Giving Count

Businesses play a big part in philanthropy. Between 2018 and 2019 corporate giving in the United States went up by 13%, hitting just over $21 billion. But do all those dollars lead to impact? Open Road Alliance found that where impact projects encounter roadblocks, a staggering 46% of these obstacles are caused by funders. How can businesses avoid […]

By Gillian Pereira, Lead Researcher & Reporter, The Business Pickle

Village Hut in Cambodia