Reflections on the 2014 Unilever International Award

July 4, 2014 Sue Adkins

Reflections on the 2014 Unilever International Award

Sue Adkins, ‎International Director at Business in the Community, reflects on the Big Ticks, Highly Commended and Winning entries to the ‎International Award 2014  

The United Nation Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) form a blueprint addressing the needs of the world’s poorest in the least developed countries. The MDGs range from reducing extreme poverty by half, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education. The MDGs have galvanised significant and collaborative efforts by government, business and civil society internationally. In addressing these fundamental needs business has proved vital and consequently benefited from greater risk management, enhanced reputation, security of supply chain and markets, all of which provides a strong business case for action.

The Unilever International Award identified those businesses that have positively impacted one or more of the MDGs.

The twelve Big Tick companies in this category have positively impacted over seven million beneficiaries and contributed to addressing all of the MDGs. These companies are helping to eradicate extreme poverty, promote gender equality, support various aspects of the health agenda, and build global partnerships for development between civil society, business and governments. These programmes demonstrate innovation, scale and the potential to be replicated, highlighting the importance of business as a key enabler of the MDGS. 

Read about each of these programmes and how they have demonstrated vital positive impact on key aspects of the MDGs. 

The judging panel, made up of four senior business leaders were so impressed with the quality of the entries this year that they awarded both a large and small company winner, as well as a highly commended.

The large company winner is GSK for its 20% reinvestment programme, which aims to improve healthcare infrastructure in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) by training frontline health workers and providing improved access to health services. This unique sustainable business model is delivered through a collaborative partnership with three non-governmental organisations and Ministries of Health, and will have trained over 15,000 health workers by the end of this year, impacting on the lives of over 5 million people in underserved communities.

This award winning example illustrates the power of a sustainable business model which is increasing the amount reinvested year on year as the business has grown, from £2.5m n 2010 to £5.1m in 2013, and now totals £15m cumulatively.

The winning accolade for small company was given to Glasgow Caledonian University for the work of its Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing. This college provides vocational nurse-midwifery training to disadvantaged young women from rural areas in Bangladesh who would otherwise not have the means, access or opportunity. The judges recognised the depth of the impact and the inspiration that the university provides in a challenging context, and how this model is breaking the cycle of poverty and creating a cycle of empowerment.

The judges also highly commended Tata Consultancy Services for its InsighT programme, which mentors students in India to improve their IT proficiency and employment prospects, and thereby addresses a key shortage of talent within the IT industry. InsighT is providing a cost effective tool, providing a pathway out of unemployment and poverty with every single student that has taken part in the programme to date subsequently securing employment. The judges recognised that that this programme is scalable with great business benefits for Tata Consultancy Services providing a talent pipeline but also as a route out of unemployment and poverty.

For information about how BITC can support your business in meeting critical global needs please contact me at

Sue Adkins, ‎International Director at Business in the Community

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