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Challenge

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.

Spotlight

Sandra Granath and Aleksandra Lasota

Sandra Granath and Aleksandra Lasota discuss the challenges and opportunities of better supporting migrant workers through great training and learning and also help business better look after their workers’ human rights whilst complying with due diligence requirements. The ILO estimated that in 2019 there were 169 million international migrant workers in the world (accounts for […]

David Grayson, Chris Coulter and Mark Lee

Three of the globe’s heavy weights in sustainable business and social impact pioneers join together to share how sustainable business can be done. David Grayson CBE is Emeritus Professor of Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield School of Management and Chair of the Institute of Business Ethics, in the UK. Mark Lee is the Director of the […]

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Agriculture

5,000 miles of connection – why the war in Ukraine is causing starvation in the Horn of Africa

The last two years have reminded us how connected the world is and how our lives and livelihoods depend on one another. Disruptions in supply chains during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and now the war in Ukraine continues to demonstrate that what happens in one part of the world can have severe consequences […]

By Keith Kibirango, Director of Philanthropy and Private Sector Engagement, Crown Agent


Refugees & Migration

Supporting refugees through financial inclusion

On Monday, World Refugee Day marked the start of Refugee Week (20-26th June) – a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. That sense of creativity and resilience has been embodied by thousands of people living in Zambia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone, who have benefitted from a joint […]

By Emma Stevenson, Head of Funded Partnerships, Comic Relief


Refugees & Migration

NaTakallam – where language learning meets social impact 

Today, there are over 100 million forcibly displaced people in the world. They face not only the loss of assets and livelihood but also of their agency. Mobilizing displaced individuals to regain their agency and earn an income is at the heart of NaTakallam’s mission. However, xenophobia is becoming more widespread – given a microphone […]

By Lucy Davis, Communications, PR and Development Officer, NaTakallam


Youth

Join the Futuremakers Forum 2022

How can we, together, put young people into the driving seat and create the financial systems they need to achieve success? Nearly 1 in 4 young female entrepreneurs say they don’t control their own money; 75% of young people with business bank accounts say they assumed they weren’t eligible for any further financial products and […]

By Claire Dixon, Group Head, Corporate Affairs, Brand and Marketing, Standard Chartered Bank


Environment

New research finds solutions to farmer resilience amid global crises

This year’s Business Fights Poverty Global Summit is warning of the tsunami of poverty created by COVID-19, climate change and conflict that our community is striving to resist. For the people working in global supply chains, in agriculture, fashion, extractive industries in low-income countries, and who often experience entrenched social inequality, crisis is all too […]

By Dr Arisbe Mendoza Escalante, Director of Global Impact, Fairtrade International


Environment

Making community and collaboration the route to climate justice

Eight of the ten most severe global risks identified over the next ten years are related to environmental and societal risks, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022. Of these, the five environmental related risks are climate action failure, extreme weather events, biodiversity loss, environmental damage and natural resource crises (which include […]

By William Clarke, Corporate Sustainability Lead at Wipro


Agriculture

Boosting young Kenyan farmers’ incomes through climate-smart agriculture

A six-year partnership between Farm Africa and the supermarket Aldi UK has enabled hundreds of young farmers in western Kenya to develop thriving horticulture businesses and build their resilience to climate change. The Growing Futures project was first launched in 2016, when Aldi UK teamed up with Farm Africa to launch a three-year initiative enabling young farmers in the northern Rift […]

By Anissa Msallem, Head of Corporate Partnerships, Farm Africa


Inclusive Business

Combating rural poverty through Inclusive Business

Maize is the staple crop for 1.6 million smallholder farmers in Zambia. It is their main food, their source of cash – and their nemesis. Growing maize in monoculture, lacking access to inputs, and relying on traders to reach markets, most smallholder farmers stay desperately poor. According to the World Bank, more than three out […]

By Katharina Muenster, iBAN


Agriculture

Honduran coffee farmers hope for a brighter future

Anyone working in coffee will know that Honduras is an important origin. Coffee has been a good news story for the country, it is an important export, and it is well regarded worldwide for its flavoursome speciality beans, but it is under threat from climate change. According to the World Bank, Honduras remains one of […]

By Susannah Henty, Senior Media and Comms Manager, Fairtrade Foundation