Friday, 25 February 2011

Beyond corporate social responsibility

By Neil McCulloch

Last month, Zahid Torres-Rahman from Business Action for Africa (and Business Fights Poverty) gave an excellent presentation at IDS. Within it, he argued that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should be secondary to "businesses doing business."

I certainly agree that the role of business in development should reach much further than CSR.  It is not just about business doing good, but rather about doing good business. In other words, the idea that businesses can change their core business models in ways that are more “inclusive” i.e. that have a more positive impact on poor communities and poor people.  Examples abound – Unilever designing its distribution chain to maximise the involvement of smaller poorer distributor; SAB Miller sourcing locally from Sudanese smallholders, and many many more (see Business Action for Africa’ latest report for some examples). 


j.georgalakis said...

Fascinating stuff - yes perhaps we can call this 'Beyond the trickle down.' NGOs and development practitioners have been slow I think to recognise the huge role business has in promoting development - certainly in a quite separate way to the CSR philanthropic approach.But it would certainly be good to see more research on how business models can actively promote development goals rather than relying on the automatic economic activity trickle down effect that some policy makers and business leaders have put so much emphasis on.

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