Global Business Leaders Unveil New Plans to Fight Poverty in India

06 May 2008

6 May 2008: Today, at the Business Call to Action event in London, SABMiller, one of the world’s leading brewers, announced that it will double the amount of barley it sources from local farmers in Rajasthan from 7090 mega tonnes to an expected 15000 mega tonnes. Announcing the initiative, Graham Mackay, Chief Executive, SABMiller said: "6000 barley farmers in Rajasthan will become part of SAB Miller’s supply chain in 2008. Business will always be a more effective development partner when it uses its core skills on initiatives that relate to its own business and sustainable markets".

SABMiller is one of a dozen companies, which today announced concrete initiatives that apply core business expertise, utilizing their technology and innovative spirit to tackle the multiple challenges of poverty. More than 80 CEOs from the world’s largest companies attended the Business Call to Action to discuss how they can use their core business activities to help reduce poverty in the developing world. The event was being jointly hosted by the UK Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Over the next five years, these new business initiatives, announced by Diageo, Vodafone, Coca-Cola, Sumitomo Chemical, Microsoft, SABMiller, Thomson Reuters, Citi Group and Cisco are expected to create thousands of jobs, and potentially benefit the lives of millions of poor people across Africa and Asia. They are part of a concerted push to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that will enable poor people to access speedy flow of information, money and business expertise as well as creating new employment opportunities.

In July 2007 Prime Minister Gordon Brown, speaking alongside UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, launched a new global partnership, the MDG Call to Action, with the support of 14 heads of state and 21 private sector leaders, to encourage the international community to accelerate progress to achieve the MDGs. The Business Call to Action is a part of this major global campaign to inspire companies to realise that contributing to the global fight against poverty also makes good business sense. By contributing to a safer and more prosperous world, businesses can secure their future commercial success and create a more profitable business environment.

Douglas Alexander, UK Secretary of State for International Development said: “Although we are over halfway towards the MDG target date of 2015, we are not halfway to meeting the MDGs. It is time to take concerted action to save lives and business has a key role to play in the push against poverty. Long term economic growth is vital to the fight against global poverty and business investment is vital to building economic growth.

"Africa and other parts of the developing world offer a wealth of business opportunities that make real commercial sense. I am hopeful that after today’s event businesses will be inspired to make concrete commitments and to speed up action they have already planned. These commitments could have a life changing impact on literally millions of poor people.”

Kemal Dervis, UNDP Administrator said: “In the race to achieve the MDGs, one of the greatest untapped resources is the private sector. Businesses are engines of growth and sustainable development. Innovative business leaders, both in the North and the South, are changing the way that many businesses operate. They are expanding beyond traditional business practices, to also focus on the needs of those locked out of the global market, bringing them in as partners in growth and wealth creation. Such creative approaches and partnerships are essential in catalysing vibrant new markets that can contribute to advancing inclusive growth and development.

Susanna Moorehead, Head of DFID India said: “Even with a growth rate of 9%, India is home to a third of world’s poor. We need to work hard to make sure that the poor begin to benefit from this impressive growth. It is extremely positive that a large private company like SABMiller is expanding its business in India and joining the fight against poverty by increasing jobs, livelihoods, and incomes.” It’s been just over seven years since 189 world leaders endorsed the MDGs. The Goals represent a global partnership to promote poverty reduction, education, maternal health, gender equality, and aim at combating child mortality, AIDS and other diseases. More than halfway to the target year, the MDG track record is mixed. Considerable progress is being made, but many countries are falling behind, with sub-Saharan Africa most at risk. The region is not on track to meet a single MDG by 2015.

Notes for editors
1. To read the full announcement, quotes from CEO and the booklet on Business Call to Action, please visit http://www.ukinindia.com/
2. Video news release available at http://www.silverfish.tv/
3. The Business Call to Action event is taking place in London on 6 May, hosted by the UK Government and UNDP. President John Kufuor of Ghana and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda will also attend the event.