Editor’s note: The following guest post is from Heifer International Corporate and Foundation Relations Account Executive, Suzanne Munson.
Current and potential corporate partners from around the globe gathered December 11th to attend Heifer’s flagship sustainability and corporate social responsibility summit: Beyond the Bottom Line: Creating Shared Value Through Partnership.
The event, held at Heifer’s headquarters in Little Rock, featured welcome remarks from Governor Mike Beebe, who said that while he may never know people that Heifer International helps, they are real human beings who can’t do it without Heifer and Heifer in turn can’t do it without the corporate partners attending the conference.
“Everyone here has a give back mentality and one person can make a difference, one life at a time, one family at a time,“ said Beebe.
His comments set the tone for the day-long collaboration between corporate partners, fellow NGOs, thought leaders and Heifer staff.
Long-time Heifer corporate partners Elanco (Eli Lilly’s Animal Health Division) Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Danone and Garnet Hill convened to share their experiences, advice and business cases for why they’ve chosen to commit resources, funding and staff knowledge to help end hunger and poverty around the world.
Jean-Christophe Laugee, Social Innovation and Ecosystem Director for Danone, presented a session on “Supply Chain Collaboration: New, Inclusive Sourcing Partnerships to Develop Sustainable Food Chains and Brand Equity,” which in simpler terms means Danone was experiencing a dairy sourcing problem in Ukraine, and Heifer’s smallholder farmers were able to provide the solution. By marrying responsible, sustainable supply chain needs with Heifer’s project partners in the field, a win-win collaboration ensured smallholder dairy farmers could lift themselves (and their families) out of poverty by connecting to a steady market demand for their milk.
Rick Peyser, Director of Social Advocacy and Supply Chain Community Outreach for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Kevin Watkins, Advisor, Elanco Knowledge Solutions, shared the stage to discuss the importance (and challenges) of tracking tangible results out in the field. While both agreed it’s often difficult to track progress in remote, technologically challenged-areas, concrete evidence presented to shareholders proves companies’ strategic investments are producing results – for their bottom line as well as for struggling, impoverished farmers around the world.
Although issues surrounding hunger and poverty clearly cannot be tackled during a one-day summit, it can be agreed it will take the collective might of many players: corporations, NGOs, governments and private donors to truly put an end to hunger and poverty. As the old African proverb states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”