Joining the Fight Against Global Poverty: A Menu for Corporate Engagement

Staci Warden
December 10, 2007

In the last decade more and more of the world's leading corporations have sought and found ways to join in the fight against global poverty. In an increasingly interdependent world, there are many opportunities to do good while doing well commercially. Yet the approaches taken, and the logic of different tactics by different companies, have not been much studied. This new report, based on interviews with 15 corporations that have been active in "development" work in poor countries, offers a menu of six approaches.

  • Standards Compliance: adhering to high standards for workers' rights, environmental protection, or other development issues
  • Charitable Giving: through a company foundation or by supporting public or non-profit charitable organizations
  • Resource Engagement: directly contributing a company's goods or services
  • Commercial Leverage: companies doing well by doing good
  • Development Entrepreneurship: where an explicit commitment to the poor is the core business strategy
  • Policy Advocacy: using the company's influence to improve the policy environment for development, in the host country or home country.

It also offers practical anecdotes about what has worked for corporations (and what hasn't), and explains some of the advantages companies have found in pursuing a developmental agenda, including reputational benefits and attracting informed customers. One of the guiding principles of the report is that companies bring much more to the table than money. Financial resources are often necessary, but corporations' skills, ideas, and ways of operating in the marketplace can make a much greater contribution.

**Staci Warden is a longtime friend and supporter of CGD.Vijaya Ramachandran, a CGD senior fellow and specialist on private sector development, leads the Center's corporate outreach work.

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