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Companies pledge to improve lives of 34m people

A broad range of companies, from corporations to social enterprises, Wednesday made new commitments to the Business Call to Action (BCtA) that will improve the lives of more than 34 million people worldwide through market-based approaches that will accelerate development while generating new profits.

BCtA is a global initiative established with UN support to promote poverty reduction and sustainable social and economic development.

PANA reports the companies which made the pledges included Nokia (Finland), Itaú Unibanco (Brazil), ITOCHU Corporation (Japan), kurkku (Japan), Hybrid Social Solutions (Philippines), Novozymes A/S (Denmark), Unicharm Corporation (Japan), Honey Care Africa (Kenya), Zoona (Zambia), Sorridents (Brazil) and Waste Capital Partners (United States).

Speaking at the pledging ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York, Sigrid Kaag, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Assistant Administrator, UN Development Programme (UNDP), said: ”These new commitments demonstrate that the private sector is a strong partner in our collective drive to reduce poverty and achieve inclusive growth.

”Through innovative partnerships, targeted investments, and inclusive business models that respond to the needs of people in underserved communities, the private sector contributes to sustainable development.”

He said the companies’ plans include providing affordable, renewable energy products to off-grid communities and empowering micro-entrepreneurs with access to credit and technical training, which will provide stable livelihoods and increased incomes.

The commitments came at BCtA’s annual meeting on the sidelines of the High-level General Debate of the UN General Assembly.

They aim to rally energy and expertise around development and expansion of business models that bring access to goods, services, and livelihood opportunities to low-income communities.

More than 150 leaders from business, government, and civil society convened to discuss the powerful role that business can play in accelerating progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Since the founding of the BCtA in 2008, more than 55 companies have responded to the call to contribute to the advancement of the MDGs by committing to improve quality of life of the world’s poor.

Collectively, members have set specific, time-bound targets to advance the MDGs through business ventures in agricultural development, healthcare and nutrition, financial inclusion, access to energy, education, water and sanitation, housing, and gender equality.

BCtA member companies have to date employed more than 238,000 people and provided professional training opportunities to more than 575,000 in 42 middle- and low-income countries.

Over the lifetime of BCtA member initiatives already in progress, more than 80 million people will gain expanded access to energy, 75 million will experience improved health outcomes and 40 million people will gain access to financial services.

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