Business collaboration can enable solutions that make it more attractive to live, work and invest in rural areas.
The Problem: Approximately 3.1 billion people, or 45% of the total world population, live in rural areas of developing countries. This includes more than 70% of the world’s poor, who are systematically disadvantaged by a lack of access to basic needs, markets, credit and other economic enablers that help support decent and viable livelihoods. The working population aspires to migrate to cities where they and their families have access to more attractive opportunities.
As a result, companies with rural operations or supply chains struggle to find and retain skilled human resources, and to ensure the health, safety and overall working conditions of staff and suppliers. Improving this situation depends on a set of complex and inter-connected development issues, and current efforts are fragmented across actors including NGOs, governments and international organizations. Businesses attempting to tackle these challenges increasingly find themselves stretched far beyond their scope and core competencies.
The Solution: The Rural Livelihoods Initiative brings together companies to establish cross-industry collaboration in rural areas. Drawing together the core strengths of various value chains, and linking to companies’ growth strategies holds the potential to support more viable, sustainable and scalable solutions to both business and development challenges faced in rural areas. This combined value proposition can ultimately make rural areas more attractive places to work, live, and invest in.
This idea was brought to life by the Rural Livelihoods Leadership Group at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), consisting of Nestlé, Novartis, Syngenta, Vodafone and Accenture. Together, these companies represent three types of actors we believe are necessary to establish scalable, cross-industry projects:
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