Can your business help plug the foreign aid gap?

Written by Waste to Wonder

Waste to Wonder is a leading ethical office clearance provider that saves costs and delivers exceptional CSR and environmental results. It's flagship programme, School in a Box, has equipped over 1,000 schools in 23 countries with donated furniture from the clearances they undertake.

Commentary

28/07/2021

In economically deprived areas of the globe, British aid saves lives.

Britain commits 0.7% of its national income to foreign aid. 0.7% is the UN target set out in 1974 for wealthy nations to meet to help improve global equality. It took us a while to get there, but we’ve been meeting this target every year for the past 8 years… until now.

Due to the impact of the pandemic on the UK economy, the government has decided to cut our annual donation from 0.7% to 0.5%. It sounds like a small percentage, but the cut translates to billions of pounds. The move will see our annual contributions drop from £14.5 billion to £10 billion.

 

Last year, our donations put us in third place in the global list of most charitable countries. Only Germany and the US donated more to countries in need. Charity and philanthropy has long been part of Britain’s legacy. To pull back on foreign assistance when third-world countries need it the most may damage the UK’s global standing. In order to trade, profit, and maintain global relationships, we need to show we’re doing our part.

 

But there are people who still have the power to make the right choices, and make big changes in the lives of those less fortunate. And those people are decision makers in business.

 

Businesses picking up the slack

 

Because the government has needed to reduce its aid, businesses have an opportunity to fill the gap. Whether that’s via their hiring policy, Fairtrade commitments, sustainability policy, or charity partnerships. Now, more than ever, seemingly small decisions made by leadership teams can have huge impacts on the world around us.

 

It won’t be for the first time that big business has stepped in to plug the gap. In 2017, when President Trump threatened to cut foreign aid funds by a third, some of the US’s biggest businesses including Walmart banded together to create a relief fund for developing countries. Some might say it was a cynical move motivated by “good PR”, some might say the good outweighs the slightly-less-good intentions.

 

A study from 2017 showed that developing countries receive 27% more business investment than government aid. As business capital increases, industry grows and jobs are created, poverty falls.

 

Businesses can and do make a difference to poverty-stricken populations – perhaps even more so than governments.

  

If you can, do

 

Not all businesses are in a position to donate cold hard cash. And organising things like charity events and fundraisers can be time-consuming. Read on for a list of actionable ways you can help plug the gap in foreign aid today – even as a small business with a limited charitable budget.

 

1. Supporting entrepreneurship

 

When funding is cut, innovation and business development suffer. Developing countries just starting to cultivate ‘knowledge economies’ are left to flounder for local investment, which can be almost impossible to find.

 

How you can help: Consider supporting entrepreneurship around the world through programmes such as the Enterprise Challenge, School Enterprise Challenge and Kids MBA.

 

2. Health and resources

 

Reduced foreign aid means fewer physical resources reaching the small communities that need it most. Crucial tools for survival, like medicines, vaccinations, and maternity care are compromised. Attempts to break the poverty cycle become much more difficult.

 

How you can help: Investing schemes are designed to provide much-needed cash to the charities that fight to provide. Consider making something like Save The Children, Schroders, The Giving Machine, or The Council Of Nonprofits your nominated charity/fund of the year.

 

3. Standing up for education

 

Children in Crossfire, an NGO that provides educational support for children in Ethiopia and Tanzania, was given 90 days warning that their funding for their pre-school programme was to be cut.

 

How you can help: Consider signing up to support charities like Children In Crossfire, Books2Africa, or programmes like Waste To Wonder’s School In A Box programme.

 

4. Combating Waste

 

One of the easiest (yet most effective) ways to help those in need is to donate the things you no longer need. You’ll get a double benefit from this if you’d otherwise have to pay extortionate rates to send them to landfill.

 

How you can help: Waste to Wonder partners with you to seamlessly coordinate your office clearance or move. We’ll handle all the lifting and disposal, but instead of throwing it in a skip, or just recycle, we’ll package it up and redistribute it to schools and charities in poorer nations so that others around the world can make the most of it. 

 

If you’ve been considering an ethical waste clearance partner, or mulling over how to make your business more beneficial to the world, there couldn’t be a better time.

 

Hopefully, once the UK has found its feet following the pandemic, we can get our global contributions back up to 0.7%. Until then, we thank our partners and the charitable small businesses across the UK for helping to plug the gap.

Alan Cooper

Alan Cooper

Founder & Director of Communications

Alan founded Waste to Wonder as he saw an opportunity to change a out-dated approach of companies relocating, where wastefulness was rife. Having a keen interest in corporate branding and social issues, it seemed a perfect time to link the two and form Waste to Wonder.

Still very active in Waste to Wonder’s business development and new international projects, Alan has more innovative plans to support customers, partners, and recipients worldwide.

Contact him by email on [email protected]

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