The ways in which business can and should be addressing social issues are many and complex. This magazine helps you to navigate the challenges and find out about some of the leading edge thinking and topics across the space. Brought to you by a team that share a common belief in business as a force for good, our focus this issue is business purpose. Of late, business purpose has come under attack. Are companies embedding purpose authentically into business, or is this simply a veneer?
Since joining Business Fights Poverty in June 2018, the more time I spend with people working in the social impact space the more inspired I am. The visionary energy and openness to collaboration so many are bringing to this work is deepening my belief in the transformative capacity of business. Whether it’s the direct action of people on the frontline building resilience through refugee-inclusive business models (pg. 26-27), innovators creating the conditions for social entrepreneurs to thrive (pg. 24-25), or leaders whose partnership work will drive system change across entire sectors (pg. 23) – it is clear that there are plenty out there who are proving that business purpose can be done well. I have also learned the value of getting the right people into close quarters: our July conference in Oxford is a prime example (pg. 12-13). When a group with the same values, interests and ambitions convene, deep and honest exploration of social issues can take place and, from that point, the foundations for real change can be built. As importantly, and highlighted by our Co-Founder and CEO, Zahid Torres-Rahman in his recent article, ‘The Purpose Paradigm: Solution or scam?’ embedding purpose is a journey (pg. 6-8). Clearly there is still a lot to learn – but the appetite for purpose is there, and the key is to do it with humility, and a willingness to learn and adapt.
Bringing these insights into 2019, we have a role to play in moving the business purpose conversation forwards. In practice, this means creating enabling conditions for change-agents within the business community, to give them a voice and stimulate action. I personally hope that the Business Fights Poverty Magazine, alongside our regular online editorial offerings, is a contribution to this process.
Beyond the magazine, there is much to look forward this year on the Business Fights Poverty agenda and plenty of opportunities for you to get involved (pg.30). This February, we will deep-dive into what makes a great transformational partnership in an online discussion (pg. 31). Following on from our work with CARE and Cargill (pg. 23), the discussion is set to hone in on what purposeful collaboration looks like on the ground; what works and how-to avoid the pitfalls. March sees in the beginning of a new collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), CARE International and members of our Business Leaders Group to deepen the understanding of what business can do to eliminate gender-based violence in the workplace. With so much to be gained from creating a safe working environment, this project comes at a pivotal time in the global movement towards greater gender equality. We have also recently launched a new collaboration with a number of companies and foundations on ways in which businesses can be more effective in supporting small and medium enterprises within their value chains and beyond. And we’re also excited to be joining forces with Acumen on the Skoll World Forum Ecosystem event in April, where we will be inviting corporate leaders as well as their potential partners – NGOs and social enterprises – to look for bolder ways to make the food and agriculture industries sustainable and more beneficial for small-holder farmers. Look out for our online discussion event in the same month on responsible sourcing, which will focus on how together we can eliminate modern slavery and child labour from global supply chains (pg. 31).
Finally I encourage you, our readers, to join us to build upon recent successes, which are included in this Issue. Going forwards, if you are looking for a safe, and supportive space to share your ideas and work on social impact, or want to scope out opportunities to collaborate with us, I would be only too pleased to help act as a catalyst. I invite you contact me an**@bu*******************.org.