Earlier this year, Larry Fink, CEO of leading US investment fund, Blackrock, said: “to prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society".
Although businesses have been doing this for hundreds of years, such as Unilever’s Port Sunshine village in 1887, it has not been widely accepted that companies can, and should, use shareholder funds to further social causes and community development.
In many ways, businesses have been at the forefront of development, with the United Nations Global Compact bringing over 13,000 businesses to ‘align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals’.
Recently, two global game-changing initiatives have advanced this agenda. Firstly, the United Nations and its member states, including Australia, have endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals, as the successor to the Millennium Development Goals. Now, the SDGs apply to every country and Australia will report back on its progress at the UN in July through a Voluntary National Review.
AVI is a member of the Global Compact Network Australia and has been working with the Australian Government to ensure volunteering for development is included in this report as a demonstration of its efficacy, effectiveness and necessity to further the SDGs.
Secondly, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been superseded by ‘shared value’, which is a more inclusive approach whereby companies harness their core business to achieve development and business ‘shared’ outcomes. AVI is a member of the Shared Value Project and has a shared value partnership with Intrepid Travel, the world’s largest adventure tourism company, in Yangon, supported by DFAT’s Business Partnerships Platform.
Intrepid need sustainable, experience-rich travel opportunities and we seek to empower women through establishing and growing women’s small business. The project has created a Sustainable Tourism Hub that provides market advice, product development, promotion support, business training and coaching, and access to banking services and has enabled ten women’s businesses to start and grow in the tourism market.
We are always looking for more shared value projects, please don't hesitate to get in touch.