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A Special Series for the 2014 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship

Each year at the Skoll World Forum, nearly 1,000 of the world’s most influential social entrepreneurs, key thought leaders and strategic partners gather at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School to exchange ideas, solutions and information. We asked a number of speakers to discuss the critical issues, challenges and opportunities underpinning their sessions in advance of the Forum to ground a richer debate both online and in Oxford.

Learn more about the 2014 Skoll World Forum, sign up to our newsletter to be notified of the live stream, view the 2014 delegate roster and discover what themes and ideas we'll be covering this year at the event. Also, read about the seven recipients of this year's Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

 
 

Hitting The Impact Jackpot

Kristin Gilliss

Associate Portfolio Director, Mulago Foundation

Well-Crafted Entertainment Can Change the World

John Marks

President and founder, Search for Common Ground

 

Why Energy is Inextricably Linked to Environment

Sean McKaughan

Chairman of the Board, Fundación Avina

 

The Purpose of Healthcare

Gary Cohen

Co-Founder and President, Health Care Without Harm

Data and the Human Touch

Jim Fruchterman

Founder and CEO, Benetech

 

Education is a Savior

Rafiatu Lawal

National Chairperson, Campaign for Female Education

 
 

Building the Impact Investing Market in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

Liz Patterson

Lead on Social Impact Investment, UK Department for International Development

 

Preparing for a World With 9 Billion, Designers Are Rising to the Challenge

Lynelle Cameron

President and CEO, and Senior Director, Sustainability, Autodesk Foundation and Autodesk, Inc.

Inside Root Capital's Women in Agriculture Initiative

Catherine Gill

Senior Vice President, Investor Relations & Operations, Root Capital

 
 
 

Smallholder Impact and Risk Metrics: A Labyrinth of Opportunity

CJ Fonzi

Project Leader, Dalberg Global Development Advisors

 

Connecting Poverty and Health

Barbara Bush

Co-Founder and CEO, Global Health Corps

Andrew Youn

Founder and Director, One Acre Fund

 

Profit-With-Purpose and the G8

Sir Ronald Cohen

Chairman, Social Impact Investment Taskforce established by the G8

Tom Fox

Policy Lead, UnLtd

Cliff Prior

Chief Executive, UnLtd

 
 

Sustainable Development Needs The Private Sector

Sustainable Development Needs The Private Sector

Andy Wales

Senior Vice President Sustainable Development, SABMiller plc

March 31, 2014 | 885 views

 

It’s obvious from history that strong, innovative and vibrant economies underpin broader social development. But when we consider the progress that has been made more recently against the millennium development goals, it’s surprising how often the role of businesses, both small and large, is overlooked. Dare I say it, many of those businesses driving job creation, improved incomes and a better quality of life in emerging and developing countries do so in blissful ignorance of the existence of the MDGs. So as we look beyond 2015, how can businesses work more closely and collaboratively to improve their development impact, and how can large corporations work with smaller businesses along their value chains to help them grow faster and better?

At SABMiller, we believe businesses should focus on an enlightened commercial agenda that considers local, long-term social development because it’s fundamental to commercial success.  For our business to grow, the communities we serve and small businesses we partner with also need to grow. This is especially true for a business which has invested heavily and experienced strong growth in emerging markets in Africa, Latin America and Asia.  And it’s clear that a range of progressive businesses are pushing hard at this: the speakers at recent Skoll World Forums, from corporations such as McDonald’s, Novartis and Unilever, are a testimony to the contribution that businesses can make to developing communities that foster innovation and improved opportunities.

Many developing countries are faced with a serious shortage of jobs and microenterprise is an important solution: the World Bank estimates that microenterprises account for more than half of jobs globally. Entrepreneurs and microbusinesses provide households with a steady income stream, ultimately helping thousands of families escape poverty within a single generation.

SABMiller’s experience in Colombia through its Tiendas de Paz – Shops of Peace – programme has taught us that that assisting micro-businesses at the community level can have much wider benefits for social transformation and development. The programme, with the motto of ‘Returning is living’, was set up in seven locations to encourage the return of farmers and rural inhabitants who fled their land due to guerrilla and paramilitary conflict.

With support from SABMiller, 11 tiendas were opened in the most vulnerable regions of Colombia. The tienda quickly became the focal point of these communities, creating a network of neighbours, and economies of scale.  Today, local families gather at the tiendas, which are co-managed by other community members; to buy and sell products, allocate local funds to community projects (whether it’s a new crop, road or local school) and guarantee that the profits stay in the community.

The programme, Tiendas de Paz has not only improved economic conditions in these impoverished communities, it has also helped redevelop a sense of community, healing, and belonging for displaced populations. Local coffee and cocoa farmers use the shop as a selling spot, and locals – who can live very far from each other in these poorly connected rural areas – can stop by to catch up.

Of course, it isn’t just in post-conflict situations that businesses can help improve the business environment and create more opportunities. Our broader Tenderos programme is providing support to over 40,000 small shopkeepers across six countries in Latin America over four years. In Colombia, more than 4,000 shopkeepers have already been able to access US$6 million in microcredit, as well as business skills training.

The private sector needs to be at the table when discussing sustainable development, whether it’s a local community’s path to recovery or multiple countries pushing to meet the MDGs.  But it shouldn’t be there simply because of the economic impetus it can bring to growth, governments should recognize businesses’ vested interest in and potential contribution to social development.

 
 
 

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