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Coca Cola, Microsoft boost profits while promoting African, Asian development – UN

Coca Cola, Microsoft boost profits while promoting African, Asian development – UN

Coca Cola and Microsoft are among dozens of companies which are adding to their bottom line while helping Africa and Asia meet their development targets as part of a United Nations-backed scheme.

Global business leaders gathered in Cape Town, South Africa, today to celebrate the first anniversary of the Business Call to Action International Partnership, which was launched in May 2008 in London by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom.

The programme “builds upon the enlightened self-interest of the private sector to find financial gains while contributing to development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs],” said Bruce Jenks, Director of UNDPs’ Partnership Bureau, referring to the eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline.

“At a time when global business leaders are facing difficult decisions about how to manage growing costs and dwindling profits, it is even more important for companies to boldly explore business models that include the poor in their core strategies,” he added.

In just its first year, over 60 CEOs have signed on to the Business Call to Action Declaration, committing their companies to invest in ending poverty.

So far, 18 companies – including PepsiCo and Cadbury – have launched initiatives creating thousands of new jobs, setting up hundreds of small independent businesses and boosting trade and sourcing from Africa and Asia.

Coca Cola has created 700 small distribution centres in Africa, generating 4,500 new jobs, while Microsoft has launched its Students to Business Programme in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya and Senegal.

For its part, Cisco Systems is currently establishing several Connected Community Research Centres in Kenya to bring many affordable services to local residents, and SABMiller is trying to double the amount of barley it sources from India, in an initiative benefiting 7,500 farmers.