Last week, as the US Presidential election played out, the Business Fights Poverty team spent some days reflecting on the events of the past six months and looking ahead to the future. We were all struck by the way that networks such as Business Fights Poverty can provide a source of insight and resilience, as we face up to the significant global challenges that lie ahead. Our community has, in so many ways, risen to the challenge of COVID-19 and demonstrated the power of business as a force for good in the world. This year especially it has been a privilege to witness the sense of collective purpose, mutual encouragement and practical assistance that draws our 30,000+ members together.
We are looking forward to hearing more about some of the inspiring initiatives from across our network, during our second one-day Virtual Summit on Gender Equality which will be held on 3 December 2020. We are excited to partner with CDC, CARE and others on this free event, which will provide an opportunity for learning, sharing experience and networking. Watch this space for more information about how to sign up.
Sharing our stories is one way in which we, as a community, can stay hopeful and continue to inspire one another. The content published in the last couple of weeks is no exception, and highlights the variety of ways that people and organisations can rebuild better:
- In ‘Demonstrating a business case for agroecology’ John Chettleborough, Lead Agriculture and Markets, Practical Action Consulting calls for businesses to embrace regenerative agriculture, ‘based on the principle of WORKING WITH, rather than WORKING AGAINST nature’. He shares the experience of Practical Action and IKEA, who are working in partnership to show how this can work in practice.
- In 2014, robotics engineers at Zipline responded to the devastating Ebola outbreak in West Africa by developing a system to deliver essential medical supplies by drone. Find out how Zipline built on this experience, using medical drone delivery to combat COVID-19 and to support other essential healthcare services in Rwanda and Ghana.
- Vilified or Vaulted? How the private sector is our best hope for a more sustainable future provides a sneak peak into John Pabon’s new book, “Sustainability for the Rest of Us: Your No-Bullshit, Five-Point Plan for Saving the Planet”. The book itself is a ‘no-holds-barred, unorthodox look at what needs to change’, based on nearly two decades of experience in the sustainability sector. This extract highlights how multinationals like Walmart are supporting female factory workers in China, and makes the case for the private sector as a leader in building a sustainable future.
- The UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights are a voluntary standard, but are they about to gain teeth? After five years of campaigning by the Responsible Business Initiative, Switzerland will hold a referendum this month on making companies responsible for human rights abuse and environmental violations anywhere in their supply chains. As IndustriALL Global Union (who supported the campaign) explain, this initiative could have significant implications for multinationals as well as victims, and is part of a larger ‘wave’ of similar legislation in other countries.
One common factor in the success of many initiatives to rebuild better is the crucial role of purpose-driven investors – something that was highlighted in a Business Fights Poverty Discussion Paper published over the summer. This fortnight, we’ve heard from three points of view about why and how impact investing has great potential to drive systems-level change:
- How impact investing can boost rural economies during and after the COVID-19 pandemic Terry Wyer, Senior Vice President of Investment Programs, Heifer International, explains how innovative investments in rural community infrastructure can open doors for rural farmers in developing economies.
- Renewable energy investments can boost the Caribbean’s sustainable recovery: A green economic stimulus is the first article in a series on Renewable Energy Investments from the Clinton Global Initiative and Resilience Capital Ventures. It explores how green energy investments can advance economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19, whilst also tackling the ‘long-term existential crisis of climate change’.
- But how can we be sure that so-called impact investments are the real deal? New tools for allocating capital to impact reflects on a recent collaboration to develop methods for ‘impact-financial integration’ – a process that embeds impact at the heart of investment management, and provides the tools for financial markets to direct capital where it is most needed. In the words of Michael McCreless, Impact Management Project, and Alessandro Maffioli and Norah Sullivan of IDB Invest, ‘building a financial sector that better serves society has never been more important – and more possible.’