Development officials at a dialogue Tuesday underlined the need for private sector engagement to halve the number of extreme poor by 2015, a key Millennium Development Goal of the United Nations.
“Co-profiting for development means engaging with private sector companies’ core businesses to help the poor,” said Asif Uddin Ahmed, Programme Director for Private Sector Development, CARE Bangladesh.
“This creates a win-win situation. Rather than asking companies for charity, we can promote inclusive supply chain. For example, CARE facilitated a link through which 320 extremely poor women in the North are producing baskets and rugs for IKEA, making Tk 3000-4000 a month,” he said.
The suggestion came at a ‘Private Sector Engagement for Poverty Alleviation’ strategy discussion organised by Shiree, a donor-funded programme, in a city hotel.
Shazia Omar, Shiree, Head of Advocacy, underscored the need for promoting business enabling policy reforms that create jobs which are environmentally friendly and pro-poor. She also spoke about promoting CSR engagements through better linkages.
She noted that Shiree hopes to host a CSR Fair for interested private sector companies soon.
Dr. Munir, a Director of Save the Children, said, “We need to develop a map of potential companies which may engage with the extreme poor. Which markets are actually feasible and viable? This could help us tap into opportunities.”
An estimated 25.1 million people are categorised as extreme poor who constitute nearly 17.5 per cent of the population, according to official statistics.
Colin Risner, CEO of Shiree, said, “According to latest data, the private sector is expanding fast and feeding overall economic growth, but we need to ensure that this growth is inclusive, leading to sustained benefit for all sections of society, especially the extreme poor.”
“There are many possible options for achieving this objective. A level of creativity and innovation is needed. Ideas include shared ownership schemes, tax incentives, improving market access and training to remove barriers to entry into the labour force.”