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Barclays & Guardian poverty partnership wins International Award

Posted: Tuesday 6 July 10, 12.39pm GMT

Katine project praised for reducing poverty in Uganda after winning The Coffey International Award supported by the Department for International Development as part of annual Business in the Community (BITC) Awards for Excellence.

Tuesday 6 July 2010: Barclays and The Guardian were praised by International Development Minister Alan Duncan today after their Katine partnership won the Coffey International Award at the annual Business in the Community (BITC) Awards for Excellence.

The Coffey International Award, supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), identifies and celebrates examples of excellence from businesses that have proven a commitment to development and poverty reduction, impacting one or more of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The award category is part of Business in the Community’s 2010 Awards for Excellence.

The winning entry in brief:

Example of Excellence, The Coffey International Award, supported by the Department for International Development
Barclays’ partnership with The Guardian and NGO AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation) used the Millennium Development Goals as the framework for a partnership to improve the lives of people in Katine in North-Eastern Uganda. This initiative brings together inclusive financial products and the power of the media with the expertise of an NGO.

The project has:

  • Boosted incomes through the establishment of more than 150 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) in Katine, comprising more than 3,200 members. This enabled the community to start their own businesses by taking out small loans and receive interest on their savings. Before the VSLA were set up, 37.1% of the target group earned an average of less than £3 a month. This figure reduced to 5.6% at the end of the pilot;
  • Increased access to clean water, from 42% of people in 2007 to 66% in 2009;
  • Established 18 Farmers Groups with more than 540 members. In 2009, the groups harvested the first drought-resistant, quick-maturing, high-yield cassava crop that was introduced by the project.

The Guardian’s multi-platform coverage, including website, innovative use of blogs, video content and web-chats has given voice to a community trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.

Charles Duff, COO Europe & Middle East, Coffey International Limited, Chairman of the International Award judging panel, said: “The power of the three-way partnership between Barclays, The Guardian and AMREF to address all of the Millennium Development Goals is impressive. This is a partnership in which each of the organisations is genuinely learning from each other. It is easy to see that the work being done in Katine, Uganda, through this partnership has great potential for being scaled up and is replicable in other communities in Africa and beyond.

The Coffey International Award is supported for the first time by DFID, as part of DFID’s Partnering with Business programme. This new programme facilitates partnerships that enhance entrepreneurship and value chain development through effective business to business linkages that improve market opportunities for the poor.

DFID’s partnership with BITC aims to promote the engagement of businesses in contributing towards the United Nations Millennium Development Goals – eight poverty targets established in 2000 and targeted for completion by 2015. With DFID’s support and expertise, BITC raises awareness of the goals amongst business and supports and challenges its members to take action.

Alan Duncan, International Development Minister, said: “Business has an absolutely crucial role to play in reducing poverty in developing countries. It is the private sector that creates the jobs and drives the growth that can give the world’s poorest people a chance at a stable, successful future. Business activity equips the poorest to move from mere subsistence to active existence.

“However to do this, companies need to move beyond a view of the world’s poorest as recipients of charity, and towards seeing them as active consumers, producers and suppliers.

“The companies nominated for this award have found a way to do just that, and I’m delighted that they are receiving the recognition they deserve.”

Whilst the speed and degree of progress in addressing the UN Millennium Development Goals is the subject of much debate, businesses have made a significant contribution. The private sector is crucial to meeting the MDGs. Businesses are an engine of growth and development and can have a huge impact on improving the lives of people in developing countries by increasing investment, creating jobs, and developing goods, technologies and innovations which can make people’s lives better. DFID is delighted to support this award which celebrates the best examples of business where success is measured not only in commercial terms but also by the transformative impact on the world’s poorest.

Stephen Howard, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, said: “The companies entering the Awards for Excellence have really raised the bar this year, despite the tough times we are operating in. The winners should know that they have beaten off some seriously stiff competition to gain these titles. It’s not always what we do but how we do it that matters, so I’m inspired by companies continually striving to better themselves, to tackle the challenges we face, and ensure that corporate responsibility is at the heart of everything they do. For our Coffey International award finalists, that extends to their commitment to working towards the Millennium Development Goals, to reduce extreme poverty. You should be rightly proud. Congratulations.”

The 2010 Awards for Excellence are supported by outgoing Company of the Year 2009 United Utilities.

Highly Commended plaudits in The Coffey International Award category went to:

Highly Commended, The Coffey International Award, supported by the Department for International Development
Thomson Reuters’ Reuters Market Light programme offers a personalised professional information service to the Indian farming community, via mobile phone, helping them to reduce their production and marketing risks, thereby directly enhancing their livelihoods. By providing transparent market information, farmers are gaining more negotiating power and a closer connection to their markets. By 2012, it is expected that the service will have created over $2-3 billion in new wealth for farmers.

Charles Duff, COO Europe & Middle East, Coffey International Limited, Chairman of the International Award judging panel, said: “In terms of access to information, innovative use of technology, scale and impact, Market Light is an excellent programme. This is clearly a sustainable, scalable model with global potential.”


Highly Commended, The Coffey International Award, supported by the Department for International Development
Pachacuti’s fair trade panama hats are produced by women’s co-operatives in the Andes mountains of Ecuador. Hat weaving is the principal source of income for these women living in their rural agricultural communities.

Pachacuti has increased the price paid for panama hats by 70% over the past 4 years and is the first company in the world to be certified by World Fair Trade Organization against the Fair Trade Sustainable Management System Reg No UK001-2009. This is an excellent example of how a UK SME can successfully engage in the development agenda.

Charles Duff, COO Europe & Middle East, Coffey International Limited, Chairman of the International Award judging panel, said: “Through creating sustainable rural livelihoods Pachacuti is an example of an SME’s approach and contribution to responsible business. Through the Sustainable Fair Trade Management System, Pachacuti has a model that can be used to inspire and practically engage other SMEs as well as to challenge the big players in the fashion and retail sectors.”

Other finalists in The Coffey International Award included:
Cisco Systems
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Tata Consultancy Services

Case studies of all the Big Tick companies in the Coffey International Award can be found here

Case studies of all the 2010 Awards entries can be found here

Case studies of all the 2010 Awards entries can be here

Images from the Awards will be available from Tuesday 8 July.

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Tom Halley

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