Private firms should team up with NGOs | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 24, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 24, 2012

Private firms should team up with NGOs

Geoffrey Dennis, CEO of CARE International UK, says this link will help improve the living standards of the poor

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Geoffrey Dennis

Private sector firms should come up and join hands with non-government organisations in development activities to improve the living standards of the poor.
By joining hands, the corporate entities can share their skills and provide other support to help the development organisations in their work. And thus they can reach more consumers and establish better connections with the people at the grassroots level.
Geoffrey Dennis, chief executive officer of CARE International UK, shared the view in an interview with The Daily Star last month.
"I think it's important to get the corporate sector involved in the work we are doing," said Dennis, who came to Dhaka last month to visit some projects run by CARE.
"It's important because they have different skills that we can bring in. We can't afford massive programmes around the world. But we can get the corporate sector involved," said Dennis.
He said the tie-up will benefit the companies as well.
According to Dennis, development organisations like CARE work with the people at the grassroots level. So, if the private sector joins hands, it will enable them to reach that consumer base.
"We make that connection for them. I think we can join and share skills as well," said the official.
CARE, under its rural sales programme, has already teamed up with GlaxosmithKline (GSK), Unilever and Bata Shoe in Bangladesh. Under the scheme, women go out to villages to sell products of these multinational firms.
The engagement has also allowed these companies to reach more consumers, especially at the bottom of the pyramid.
Dennis also stressed the need for private sector involvement to discourage rising rural and urban migration, which he said is a major development challenge for Bangladesh.
He said the private sector can be engaged in this area for funding, particularly for development of skills so that people can learn some skills and generate incomes staying at home.
"The sad part is that migration is male-dominated and makes girls back in the rural areas isolated," he said.
Already a lot of people have moved from south either into the centre and other parts of the country, leaving a lot of women, particularly adolescent girls, vulnerable, he said.
"What we are trying to do is keep the people in the rural areas. We are working hard on this area," said Dennis.
Under another scheme, CARE Bangladesh forms groups in villages and encourages the group members to save, not only for rainy days but also for investment. It also provides seed capital to help the poor start small businesses or farming.
But he said: "You shouldn't just give them money. You can give them experience. First, they need to be taught on financial and basic business skills and marketing."
Dennis also focused on climate change. He said climate change will be a major development challenge for Bangladesh; some areas of the country have already started to face the impact.
Another major challenge is women empowerment.
He said the best way to help the marginalised people is to empower women and girls.
CARE Bangladesh is currently implementing 22 projects in partnership with more than 40 NGOs and 27 private sector partners. It works on improving lives of marginalised women and girls, and the extreme poor.
It also runs projects on HIV/AIDS, sex workers and poor communities vulnerable to climate change, and provides humanitarian emergency assistance.
Founded in 1945, the organisation works across 70 countries to fight global poverty and marginalisation. CARE opened office in Dhaka in 1949.

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