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Oxfam Business Engagement for Sustainable Development

Reducing poverty through sustainable business strategies.

Executive summary

The program’s objectives are to influence and engage private sector actors to adopt more responsible and sustainable business practices. Oxfam GB and CSR Asia, an ELEVATE company, partnered on this project from 2013 to 2016, engaging the agricultural sector across Asia where Oxfam works, the extractives sector with a focus on Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and look at private sector engagement in disaster resilience.

Key issues included human rights, land rights, resilience, equality, and the professionalisation of CSR through the use of multi-stakeholder CSR management instruments. 

Scope of services

The role that CSR Asia played in the Oxfam Business Engagement for Sustainable Development program included:

  • Training and capacity building
  • Strategic dialogue
  • Thought leadership 
  • Knowledge dissemination

Challenges

Two-thirds of the world’s population live in poverty and many lack access to basic services. Poor people are often short on opportunities to improve their economic and social prospects and women are often particularly vulnerable. In addition, poor people often are victims of human rights abuses.

The business sector is a key player in finding solutions to reduce poverty. Put simply, businesses create jobs, incomes and wealth. As part of their commitment to CSR and sustainability, the private sector is increasingly interested in engaging with the poor. Therefore, responsible and inclusive business seeks to contribute towards poverty alleviation by including low income communities in its value chain in a commercially viable way.

The agricultural sector often yields large volumes of produce without high value added meaning that poor people in the supply chain quite simply stay poor. In order to reverse this trend, there is a need to transform different processes in the supply chain to add value that can be transferred to the poor. Further challenges include globalization and the large competition that ensues in the sector that has led businesses to cut down on cost in order to raise profits.

Program impact

Through training and capacity building, dialogue and knowledge dissemination, CSR Asia and Oxfam have been successful at engaging the private sector to harness its power, capacity and resources to help those in poverty by creating opportunities and reducing negative impacts.

Examples of publications:

  • The Role of the Private Sector in Women’s Economic Empowerment in Asia (2015) http://goo.gl/vx9ewP
  • Creating shared value through inclusive business strategies (2015) http://goo.gl/eaYI61
  • Engaging business on human rights: Issues for responsible and inclusive value chains (2015) http://goo.gl/DtNedg
  • Multi-Stakeholder initiatives: Cooperating to achieve responsible and inclusive business (2015) http://goo.gl/ZFVSKT
  • Managing sustainable development - guidance for extractive companies (2014) http://goo.gl/JvUZJf
  • Inclusive business in Asia. A case study of Cocoa (2014) http://goo.gl/6aUxSO
  • Conflicts over land. A role for responsible and inclusive business (2014) http://goo.gl/fv9uAQ
  • Multi-stakeholder initiatives. Smallholders and inclusive business opportunities in palm oil (2014) http://goo.gl/ZAYZ2x
  • Opportunities for inclusive business. A case study of the shrimp value chain (2014) http://goo.gl/h4ZVkf