Business Leaders Take Action To Reduce Hunger
Business Alliance will catalyse sustainable, market-based solutions to hunger
Nairobi, Kenya, 1 September – Kenyan business and government leaders pledged to take action to build sustainable solutions to hunger through market-based initiatives, as part of a Business Alliance Against Chronic Hunger facilitated by the Switzerland-based World Economic Forum.
Unilever, Coca Cola, Monsanto, Sealed Air, Tetra Laval and Ericsson were among the multinational companies joining Kenyan and regional companies such as Comcraft, Kenya Commercial Bank, Nakumatt Holdings, Western Seed Company, Osho Chemical, ASET Capital and African Agricultural Capital, together with Kenyan government officials, NGO and international-agency leaders in mobilizing business solutions to the persistent problem of hunger in Kenya.
“This is a new approach,” said Dr. Romano Kiome, Permanent Secretary of Agriculture with the Government of Kenya. “We believe that engaging business can bring new solutions to a problem that persists in Kenya.”
The Alliance strategy was formed by CEOs and public leaders and presented to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in January 2006. Siaya District in Western Kenya was chosen as the initial pilot location due to its high levels of hunger and poverty, coupled with significant potential to increase food production, improve nutrition and boost incomes through business action.
“Our company is committed to taking action on hunger, working in partnership with others to achieve that,” said William Hickey, CEO of Sealed Air, who catalysed the effort among World Economic Forum member companies. Sealed Air has begun advising Siaya District community groups on packaging solutions for locally-produced fortified foods.
“There are many ways business can have an impact on hunger,” stated David Mureithi, CEO of Unilever Kenya, which is working with Siaya producers to develop market opportunities for locally-grown crops.
Over 30 global, regional and Kenyan companies pledge to support the Alliance in several priority areas for business development in Siaya District:
1. Staple crop production and market linkages
2. Integrated processing and packaging of high-value products
3. Retail and consumer market development
4. Entrepreneurship capacity-building, especially for youth.
Participating companies developed plans of action for each priority area and pledged to meet and report back on concrete progress in late November.
In Kenya, the Alliance is jointly facilitated by several partners including the World Economic Forum, Technoserve, the UN Millennium Project MDG Centre and the Government of Kenya.
“To reach the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015, we need the partnership of the private sector,” said Dr. Glenn Denning, Director of the UN Millennium Project’s MDG Centre in Nairobi. “Our goal is to support an economic transformation in rural areas. Today we found several concrete opportunities to begin that transformation in Siaya District and we’ll be working to put them quickly into action.”
“Our assessment found many business opportunities that would benefit the community and improve local producers’ ability to make a profit,” said Antony Bugg-Levine, Director of Technoserve Kenya. Helena Leurent of the World Economic Forum agreed.” We’re focusing on win-win solutions,” she said.
Background Information :
Further information on the Business Alliance Against Chronic Hunger may be viewed at: http://www.weforum.org/en/initiatives/hunger/index.htm
The Forum’s report outlining priorities for business action to reduce hunger may be downloaded at: www.weforum.org/documents/hunger/Harnessing_private_sector.pdf
The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva , Switzerland , the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. (www.weforum.org )
The MDG Centre was established in Nairobi in July 2004 by the UN Millennium Project and the Earth Institute at Columbia University , USA . Its purpose is to assist countries in developing and implementing MDG-based poverty reduction strategies and to support the implementation of Millennium Villages in Africa. ( www.unmillenniumproject.org )
TechnoServe is a US-based non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurial men and women in the developing world to build businesses that provide jobs, income and economic opportunity. Since its founding in 1968, it has helped to create or improve more than 1,200 businesses, benefiting more than 3 million people in 22 countries. TechnoServe is currently working to build and expand businesses in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America . (www.technoserve.org)
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- World Economic Forum
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