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.




ACCESS RESOURCES: Business Fights Poverty Gender Summit 2023

Access Resources from the Business Fights Poverty Gender Summit, 8-9 March, 2023


Five Years On, Have Companies Improved on Respecting Human Rights?

The World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) recently published its The 2022 benchmark scores and ranks 127 of the largest and most influential companies in the food and agricultural products, ICT manufacturing and automotive manufacturing sectors on their human rights commitments, due diligence processes, grievance mechanisms, supply chain practices, and responses to serious allegations. This fifth iteration […]

By Hannah Itcovitz, Research Analyst, Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, World Benchmark Alliance (WBA)

woman in field


How to Build a Robust Human Rights System

“Some problems are just too complex for a simple solution. When it comes to human rights abuses, a punitive approach can drive the problem underground, making it even harder to address.” As a human rights specialist at the Rainforest Alliance, I have learned that creating an environment where farming communities feel supported to speak up […]

By Kunera Moore, Director of Themes, the Rainforest Alliance


Gender and Climate Change: Sustainability Systems Supporting Adaptation and Resilience

Women bear a disproportionate burden of the adverse impacts of climate change. In low- and middle-income countries, women are highly dependent on agriculture and natural resources, which, combined with existing inequalities, leaves them especially vulnerable. Yet, they are important economic actors who can play a critical role in tackling climate issues if given the right […]

By Eleanor Radford, Associate Manager, ISEAL


10 Things You Could Be Doing as a Man on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day. A day to not only celebrate everyone who identifies as a woman but also help drive gender equity in the workplace. Alas our Masculinity in the Workplace report shows that there is still so much more work to do and that starts by ensuring we engage more men. And that means getting far […]

By Daniele Fiandaca, Founder, Token Man Consulting



Empowering Foundations of Learning Pave the Way for Gender Equity

Achieving gender equity requires a multi-faceted approach. As the global community searches for solutions to inequalities, a strong focus must be on the foundation of empowerment – education and the ability to learn. This International Women’s Day (IWD), Wednesday 8th of March, the world celebrates the achievements and contributions of inspiring girls and women across […]

By Enoh Ugbona, Managing Director of EKOEXCEL and NewGlobe Africa Director


Why the Fashion Industry’s Four Largest Women’s Empowerment Programmes Came Together to Form RISE 

This International Women’s Day we are celebrating the launch of RISE: Reimagining Industry to Support Equality. It’s a celebration of collaboration for the greater good, with the four largest women’s empowerment programmes in the garment industry – BSR’s HERproject, Gap Inc. P.A.C.E, CARE and Better Work – coming together to build on their proven approaches […]

By Christine Svarer, Executive Director, RISE 

Three women working in a garment factory smiling at camera

Refugees & Migration

Refugee Employment Through Remote Work: How Na’amal is Creating Change

There are approximately 29 million displaced people who are categorized as “refugees” worldwide. Within this group, self-sufficiency proves to be difficult with many individuals being subjected to informal work in precarious conditions and in indignity to be able to afford their basic needs. The premise for such treatment, in most cases, continues to solely be […]

By Lorraine Charles, Executive Director/ Co-Founder, Na'amal