Business innovation is key to building a fairer society globally

July 8, 2015 Sue Adkins

Unilever Global Development Award supported by Business Fights Poverty: Businesses are having a positive impact across all of the United Nations Millennum Development Goals

Sue Adkins, International Director, explains why she's impressed by the innovative approaches taken by the Winner, Highly Commended, and Finalist entries in the Unilever Global Develoment Award, supported by Business Fights Poverty.

The Unilever Global Development Award supported by Business Fights Poverty, identifies business programmes that are demonstrating a positive impact in addressing global poverty as captured in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Addressing these challenges is vital to achieving the transformative change needed to create a fairer society and a more sustainable future for all.

The MDGs have been remarkably successful in focusing the attention of governments, civil society and businesses and mobilising these bodies resources in order to address the major gaps in global and human development. By the end of 2015, the world will have met some of MDGs key targets. Poverty will have been halved and the world will get close to providing primary education for all children. Achievement of the health goals, however, remains challenging, despite substantial progress made since 2000.

As the UN completes its drafting of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to be launched in September 2015, the Finalists in this year’s Unilever Global Development Award supported by Business Fights Poverty provide an inspiring set of examples, coming from business large and small, across a broad spectrum of industry and covering a breath of development issues.

Amongst the Finalist entries there is a strong emphasis on education, training, entrepreneurship and building the capabilities of individuals. These are key enablers to help address global poverty and global development. At the same time they are also enablers that support strong sustainable business development.

The Finalists in this year’s Award, also reflect a great deal of innovation. New approaches to savings, financial inclusion, to modular construction, life insurance, a sustainable and replicable business model for solar lights in order to eradicate harmful alternatives, innovative solutions to sanitation and waste and affirmative action are just some of the innovations displayed by these programmes. The range is inspiring and demonstrates what can be achieved.

The Unilever Global Development Award Finalists have directly benefited11 million people, with over 136 indirectly benefiting.  All of the Finalists’ programmes target MDG 1, the eradication of poverty, and two-thirds of the businesses addressed health delivery.  At least half of the finalists promote gender equality and empowerment of women. A third of the entries are focused on education, over half the entries centre on environmental sustainability, and two thirds of the programmes are based on global partnerships for development.

The Unilever Global Development Award recognises those companies that are demonstrating a positive impact on the global challenges facing our society. According to the Millennium Development Goals Report 2014, results show that concentrated efforts to achieve MDG targets by national governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector are working to lift people out of extreme poverty and improve their futures. This Award reinforces this message and has identified and highlighted some exceptional business approaches to key global development challenges.

The overall Winner AllLife is inspiring on many levels. A South African insurance provider, AllLife is focused on providing life insurance for those with HIV, an often excluded group that is generally shunned for life insurance. AllLife’s provision of life insurance enables wider financial inclusion as without life insurance people are excluded from other financial products such as mortgages and other long term investments.  The sustainable business model created by AllLife is remarkable.

Based on a unique system of ‘continuous underwriting’ which links insurance coverage with adherence to healthcare, AllLife supports the client in healthy lifestyle choices and in so doing creates a virtuous circle; a symbiotic link between the insured and the insurer as both parties benefit from the extended life of the policy holder with the quality and longevity of life for clients linking directly to their business performance. This remarkable, successful and sustainable business model has huge potential in terms of scale and significance with great potential to expand and replicate both geographically and across other long term health condition.

The Highly Commended entry for this category is SunnyMoney  This programme is focused on eradicating kerosene lamps from rural Africa, by building a replicable and sustainable business model that provides energy access through solar lights to a potential market of some 600 million across Africa, who currently have no access to electricity. The human and environmental benefits are significant.  The programme's advocacy, market penetration and business-like approach  through its unique distribution model, is well developed and aims to reach a ‘tipping point’ where other players enter the market too and working through partners, will help eradicate some 290million kerosene lamps which are more expensive and deadly.

The replicability or the programme is well illustrated and each solar light vastly improves a family’s life economically, educationally, from a health perspective and has a positive impact on the environment too. The potential impact and market changing effect of this approach will positively impact millions of lives.

The Unilever Global Development Award supported by Business Fights Poverty has identified some inspirational and innovative programmes. These programmes are replicable and scalable, are helping to address some of the world’s most intractable challenges and have the potential to achieve truly transformative change.

See the list of Winners, Highly Commended, Finalist and Shortlisted entries.

Unilever Global Development Award supported by Business Fights Poverty: Businesses are having a positive impact across all of the United Nations Millennum Development Goals

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