Exploring the links between international business and poverty reduction

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Last Thursday I highlighted a public webinar that then took place on Friday (8/4/11) to discuss the report on the ‘Poverty Footprinting’ work undertaken by SABMiller, Coca-Cola and Oxfam in Zambia and El Salvador. ‘Poverty Footprinting’ is a technique being used by Oxfam to assess the impacts big businesses have on the local communities they operate in. It doesn’t just look at the business’s operation in isolation but explores the impacts up and down the value chain; in the businesses that supply inputs, through to the businesses and individuals that distribute and sell the products.

Anyway, you can now re-run the webinar and the Q&A session here. This will be of particular interest to those who were unable to join the over-subscribed webinar on Friday.

It is a coincidence that SABMiller and Coca-Cola have come together with Oxfam to do this work in Zambia (and El Salvador) at a time when we will be working with SABMiller (with the support of Coca-Cola) in Zambia on the ColaLife pilot.

In the Q&A session, Afzaal Malik from Coca-Cola gave a really good summary of how big businesses are seeing the development landscape changing; they are moving away from pure philanthropy (although this still happens) to the leveraging of their business activities to have a bigger impact on the development of the communities in which they operate (40:36)*. This is not new and it’s been happening to an increasing extent over the last 5 years or so. We were struck by what Afzaal Malik from Coca-Cola said in the Q&A session when he was talking about the new kind of relationships big businesses were developing with stakeholders from all sectors to achieve this. He said:

And in this process you will need healthy doses of humility, lots of flexibility and patience and you need to look at these partnerships in the long term.

This certainly matches with our experience sitting on the NGO side of the fence!

We were also pleased that Andy Wales was able to mention our plans for collaborartion with SABMiller on the ColaLife pilot in such positive terms (35:00)*.

There is quite an active Twitter stream around this webinar as I type this. If you want to join in, the hashtag is #PovertyFootprint.

The full report can be downloaded here (PDF, 3.9 MB)

* Numbers in brackets are the points in the video in mins:secs. Drag the slider to these points to move straight to them.

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  1. E. Amato says:

    Checkout what ColaLife is doing to alleviate suffering: http://j.mp/eCPeua