Impact for Change: Why Business Impacts Matter?

by Amanda Jordan
Mar 22, 2016 12:30 PM ET

Swazi sewing shop might seem a surprising place to see the impacts of big business first hand. But it’s where I found myself one morning in 2013, travelling as a guest of a big global brand. The smiling owner opened the door to us. She was smartly dressed, and rightly proud of the enterprise she’d grown. I’ll never forget the noise of her workshop. About two dozen women were hard at work, mostly from the local village. They were producing uniforms for the factory owned by our client down the road.

This struck me as somewhat unusual. Most multinationals I know have global procurement practices. They have worldwide standards. Most negotiate things like uniforms from a tiny handful of global suppliers. Not in this village in Swaziland. One proactive local manager knew about the local sewing shop, and inquired as to whether they could make uniforms. The standards were checked. The cost – once transport was factored in – turned out to be competitive. And so a relationship was born from a decision to source locally. The impact on the business has been great: cheaper uniforms produced by people they know they can rely on. The change for the local economy has been even more profound.

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Amanda Jordan is a founding Director of Corporate Citizenship, a global management consultancy specialising in sustainability and corporate responsibility. Amanda’s career has spanned the NGO, government and business worlds. She has focused on partnership development between the sectors in both emerging and established economies. In addition to her varied client experience she has written and presented on issues related to responsible business practice and self-regulation. In the UK she was Chair of IWF the self-regulatory body for the internet industry and a banking regulator.