Inclusive supply chains support poverty reduction

Benjamin Mkapa.jpgProcurement and Supply Chain Management have a role to play in a recently launched initiative for holistic poverty reduction.

“Procurement that is ethical and value-based, that incorporates a community into its entire value chain” has a place in the Business for Development (B4D) Pathfinder Initiative, said Benjamin Mkapa, former Tanzanian President, at the initiative’s launch last month, attended by SmartProcurement.

Empowering a community is at the heart of the core business function, sourcing locally, and developing local supply chains is imperative, said Mkapa.

B4D is an implementation framework for inclusive business, one that will engage people and communities with business in the locality and promote an equitable distribution of profit.

Supply partnerships offer an opportunity to mobilize skills in communities and empower individuals.

B4D community photo.jpg“B4D is a framework that will create more wealth, and spread it more widely and that will afford communities access to business networks,” said Mkapa.

“The B4D Pathfinder is anchored on the notion that not just political governance, but also business can be inclusive. It embraces corporate social responsibility but goes beyond that to enable the empowerment of communities. In other words, it puts the community rather than the organisation at the centre of focus in the core business strategy. In this way, it takes into account the whole social system in which a company operates,” said Mkapa.

The framework, which will be rolled out in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states, is an opportunity for inclusive business that will promote investment and maintain market share. Business will “do well by doing good,” he said.

“B4D offers a system that enables businesses to navigate an uncharted path to sustain their own growth and profitability, while at the same time directly contributing to sustainable development in the region by including the poor in their growth path,” said Mkapa.

It is based on a model that puts business at the core of development, whilst recognizing that the local community can also be in business through their participation in the core business value chain. It affirms that good business is good for development, and that development is good for business too.

Speaking of past successes, Mkapa said that organisations which are proactive and have included their local community in their core value chains have not only been successful in expanding their market share, but the size of the market itself over a short period of time, illustrating the initiative’s bid to develop domestic markets, which “oil the economy”, and promote development in the real economy. Organisations have, in this way, been able to reduce costs, adapt their products to the needs of the community, withstand the challenge of competition, and remain more resilient to global economic shocks.

The B4D Pathfinder offers a comprehensive system that includes a voluntary charter to express shared commitment and aspiration, a barometer that provides a roadmap to measure progress across multiple indicators of inclusive business, and a toolkit to support business along the journey towards inclusive business. It supports the development of inclusive business as the gold standard in corporate social responsibility.

The Pathfinder is driven by Southern Africa Trust and the SADC Employers’ Group.

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