Business opportunities in low income communities/countries
It is often assumed in the private sector that philanthropy is the only way of addressing global needs. And yet, there is a growing movement of businesses using their core strengths to support sustainable growth in developing nations. In this movement, those in developing countries are seen more as partners and clients, and less as recipients or aid beneficiaries.
Models of engagement differ. Business may:
- partner with governments to strengthen physical infrastructure, increase capacity and invest in economic environments in ways that help foster national growth. Examples include extractive industries, satellite support, engineering projects, etc.
- engage core strengths to see expansion of local utilities and services in low-income communities. Examples include information technology, health care providers, banking, water and sanitation, crop development, business and management expertise, etc.
- sell products or services to the poor, packaged and priced appropriately for their community. If appropriately aligned with appropriate goals, this can impact the broader community. Associated training can also provide capacity building, giving local partners in these areas appropriate skills or expertise so they become distributors/partners themselves. This model increases employment, provides income and improves their communities, while increasing market share for the company.
The UN has identified targets (e.g. Millennium Development Goals) which it would like the private sector to target, using core business strengths. The UN can also identify grass roots applications which it considers strategic to building an environment to help struggling communities flourish. The UN’s unique relationship with governments can also be crucial in making this happen.