Tea Farming in Sri LankaSri Lanka is a small island off the southeastern coast of India. The country is home to around 22 million people and to a long and vibrant history. Sri Lanka has gone from an early Buddhist settlement to a colony under the control of major European powers to, finally, its own independent republic in 1972. Throughout its secular history, tea farming in Sri Lanka has remained a constant activity and has played a massive role in the development of culture on the island.

Sri Lankan tea gained global prevalence after British colonial rulers transformed tea agriculture into a plantation-style economic powerhouse. With the economic success brought on by the explosion of tea farming in the country, the British began pushing peasants and subsistence farmers into producing tea to capitalize on the global interest in the beverage.

Tea Farming in Modern Sri Lanka

Plantation-style agriculture still makes up a notable volume of Sri Lanka’s economy, and tea is the “preeminent crop of the plantation sector” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The global demand for tea has not diminished in modern times and seemingly neither has Sri Lanka’s role in providing it. The country exports hundreds of millions of kilograms of tea every year. For example, from January 2020 to May 2020 Sri Lanka exported over 100 million kilograms of tea to its trading partners.

Therefore, much of the country’s agricultural workforce is devoted to tea farming. More specifically, two million Sri Lankan farmers rely on tea farming and tea production to provide for their families and households. With tea ingrained in so much of Sri Lanka’s culture and economy, modern solutions need to be embraced to soothe the working conditions of the many poor farmers who work to meet the global demand for tea.

How Microsoft is Improving Tea Farming in Sri Lanka

To do so, Sri Lanka has turned to technology and confided in companies to assist the government in finding these solutions. For Sri Lanka specifically, Microsoft has been a superb partner in this goal.

One broad way Microsoft has helped is via a survey conducted with local business leaders to determine if they have an interest in integrating artificial intelligence (or “AI”) as a business solution. The survey discovered that 80% of those business leaders surveyed found AI to be essential to maintain their business’s competitiveness. Acknowledging this, Microsoft is investing millions of dollars into enhancing tech skills for businesses in Sri Lanka, as well as starting programs and providing hardware to assist tech startups rising in the nation.

The implications of this initiative are massive. Considering the vital status of tea farming to Sri Lanka’s culture and economy, Microsoft’s assistance in pushing more technology into businesses can lead to more efficient farming. As a result, there will be more valuable data available to increase crop yields and more companies will engage in tea farming as their enterprise of choice. The introduction of these tools can also lead to an improvement in the lives of millions of tea farmers in Sri Lanka in both safety and economic terms.

The Colombo Tea Auction

Such efforts have already begun to take hold in Sri Lanka. One major example of Microsoft’s valuable assistance to tea farming in Sri Lanka can be found in the Colombo Tea Auction. The Colombo Tea Auction is a weekly event that takes place in the nation’s capital involving the sale and export of tea from farmers. The event is vital to the tea farming community’s success as it is a major method for how the country’s tea is prepped and sold for export around the world.

However, the auction tends to involve a lot of close-quarters contact between attendees; a reality that has proven impossible given the current global COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, with the help of Microsoft’s Azure team and their Azure cloud and AI products, a local tech company was able to develop an e-commerce platform that allowed sellers and buyers to trade tea from the safety of their own homes. This was developed with extreme speed, and it allowed the tea economy (and two million poor tea farmers) to avoid economic disaster and flourish amongst a dangerous pandemic.

Now that the benefits are starting to become more tangible, and economic success is within reach for Sri Lanka’s farmers, technology may become more and more prevalent in the Sri Lankan tea industry. With the success of the Colombo Tea Auction’s move to digital commerce, along with Microsoft’s continued efforts to support Sri Lanka’s growth in tech and economic fulfillment, the world may see a better-equipped, safer and more successful Sri Lanka in the near future, perhaps beginning with their high-quality tea.

– Domenic Scalora
Photo: Flickr

Incentives to Invest in Developing CountriesIn an era of large corporate business and capitalism, many low-income nations are struggling to increase economic growth. Although industries like fast fashion utilize cheap labor in developing countries, these companies neither invest in local economies nor help improve living standards for their employees. Businesses have the potential to play a major role in strengthening low-income economies and bringing citizens out of poverty. Thus, it is critical to create and publicize incentives to motivate businesses to invest in developing countries.

Incentives for Investing

  1. Fiscal Incentives. Fiscal incentives are one of the most common incentives used to attract businesses to developing countries. Fiscal incentives include tax exemptions, tax holidays and loans. Other examples include reduced restrictions on shareholders and stocks, as well as greater access to domestic and international partners. These rewards can be provided by local or city governments, and are designed to encourage businesses to expand into developing countries. The presence of fiscal incentives in these nations can draw in new investors, skilled workers and economic growth.
  2. Privileged Treatment. Some businesses, especially major corporations, may ask for “preferential treatment in the domestic market.”  Privileges could include increased access to resources, less regulation and priority for business decisions.
  3. Resources and Infrastructure. If a business opens in a developing country, it may possess the authority to demand lower infrastructure costs or resources. These businesses can also request lower interest rates on imports and exports in order to expand their international networks, as well as request resources to increase long-term investment domestically and internationally. Large corporations often have the power to request assistance in increasing local ties with other firms and organizations. Overall, due to developing countries’ strong desire for economic investment, companies choosing to establish this presence gain access to a plethora of resources.

Potential Risks

While incentives for businesses to invest in developing countries are certainly important, disadvantages to this practice are also worth noting. Incentives can distort the market and even create dominant monopolies. Monopolistic competition makes it difficult for small businesses to gain traction and thrive long-term, which can lead to unemployment for many local workers and business owners. Furthermore, with fiscal incentives come greater risks for inflation, corruption and fraud. Therefore, although incentives may be critical in creating economic growth and development, it is important to address their drawbacks.

Deciding Whether to Provide Incentives

In sum, encouraging large businesses to operate in low-income countries boosts profits and yields exposure to new markets. Perhaps more importantly, though, developing countries themselves benefit immensely. Corporate presence from just one company opens the door for other businesses to expand into these countries, attracting new jobs, income, resources and opportunities. This economic growth can help reduce extreme poverty by involving more citizens in the job market.

However, it remains essential for developing countries to acknowledge the potential drawbacks of corporate investment and make economic decisions accordingly. Regardless, providing incentives for business investment has the potential to give hope to low-income countries aiming to improve life for their citizens.

– Sophia McWilliams
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Companies Alleviate PovertyMany countries in Africa are still experiencing problems with disease, poverty and starvation. However, many people and organizations with the tools to help, have reached out to lend a hand. Even large American corporations such as Coca-Cola and Chevron are doing what they can to help. These companies see an opportunity to help struggling nations, that opportunity being that if these companies’ efforts succeed then Africans will no longer need to worry about these particular issues again, and could potentially become customers. Listed below are some examples of how U.S. companies are helping alleviate poverty in Africa.

Coca-Cola

In 2009, the Coca-Cola Company launched RAIN: The Replenish Africa Initiative, a program with the express purpose of bringing fresh drinking water to Africa’s poor. Since the initiative’s start, they have done work in 35 of the 55 total African countries. The program is making positive change through things like building sustainable communities, catalyzing investment in access to clean water, improving both water and sanitation access for school children and replenishing more than 2 billion liters of water back to communities and the surrounding nature. Coca-Cola’s $30 million investment paired with an additional $40+ million from their over 140 partners, looks to continue their work of bringing clean drinking water to Africa.

Chevron

Chevron has been a corporation that has shown exactly how U.S. companies can help alleviate poverty in Africa over the years through multiple donations and poverty-reducing initiatives. One of these examples includes a $50 million to the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative (NDPI), an organization that focuses on improving socio-economic conditions to the more than 30 million people living in Niger’s delta region. With Chevron’s help, the organization has been able to help nearly 4,000 people raise their annual income by 92 percent in various agricultural industries. Chevron has also made huge progress combating Africa’s HIV/AIDS epidemic by donating over $60 million since 2008. With help from Chevron’s partnerships with organizations such as Pact, Born Africa Free and The Global Fund, they have made positive changes in reducing mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

General Mills

In 2008, the famous cereal giant, General Mills, launched the Partners in Food Solutions. A nonprofit with the goal of bringing improved food production as well as food processing expertise to small and medium-sized food processors in African nations. Since its establishment, the organization has helped with food production in the African countries of Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The organization has also gained the support of other major U.S. companies such as Hershey’s and Cargill to further increase their influence and accomplish feats such as strengthening food security across the continent, improving the nutrition of African grown and produced foods and increasing economic development by expanding the competitiveness of Africa’s food processing sector.

These examples of how U.S. companies are helping to alleviate poverty in Africa show a growing trend by big businesses to invest in struggling communities. Not only because of the positive philanthropic impact behind their multi-million-dollar donations, but also because of the huge potential a healthy and prosperous Africa could bring to them as consumers. No matter the reason behind the initiative, however, the progress made by these seemingly unconventional donors has brought undeniable change to millions struggling to maintain basic necessities that others often take for granted.

– Alexander Capuano
Photo: Flickr

Ethical consumers

Nearly every consumer has heard of the shoe company TOMS and its “buy one, give one” business model. However, there are a number of other companies which also work to support ethical consumerism.

5 Companies for Ethical Consumers to Support Outside of TOMS

  1. 4Ocean: 4Ocean founders Alex Schulze and Andrew Cooper started their company after taking a trip to Bali, Indonesia and seeing the planet’s pollution problem first hand. Today they are present in 27 nations, employing over 150 locals. The company creates bracelets from the plastic and glass waste they clean up, pledging to clean one pound of trash for every bracelet sold. By employing locals to do so, they are empowering the people most affected by pollution and giving back to their economies.
  2. WakaWaka: WakaWaka, a Dutch solar manufacturer, has pledged to send over 2,000 LED lights to regions in West Africa currently struggling with Ebola outbreaks. Over 90 percent of Liberia and Sierra Leone are living in the dark, with no access to the power grid. WakaWaka hopes by bringing electricity to these regions they can help make a difference in the fight against Ebola. The WakaWaka Foundation donates its devices to areas in need around the world or “at a subsidized price or in exchange for community work.”
  3. HopeMade: HopeMade describes themselves as a “sustainable, and fair trade brand,” selling hand-made bags. They employ members of indigenous Colombian tribes, paying fair wages for the craftsmanship. The commitment to living wages and ethical production allows ethical consumers to know their money is going into the pocket of someone that needs it. According to HopeMade, “you directly support the sustainable fashion as well as empowering marginalized communities and this small tribe of powerful women.”
  4. Frank Water: Frank Water is a charity dedicated to providing safe drinking water for people living in Nepal and India. The company sells refillable water bottles and provides open access to tap water for the cost of just $5. All proceeds go towards giving those in need access to clean water. Without charities such as Frank Water girls must spend 6 hours a day fetching water. Frank Water has given over 100,000 people access to water, giving back hours of their day which can now be spent getting an education or working.
  5. Fair Indigo: Fair Indigo’s slogan “fashion with a conscience” sums up the clothing brand – sustainable and fairly made. The company is based in Peru, where it employs locals and pays fair wages. Fair Indigo holds a strong stance against sweatshops in the fashion industry. The company even has its own non-profit, The Fair Indigo Foundation, which is working to improve education in Peru. They are proud to state that every penny donated goes directly to the cause, with Fair Indigo baring the administrative cost.

Ethical brands such as these are working to make the world a better and more equal place for all people. While many companies attempt to profit off poverty-porn, there are still many options for ethical consumers that wish to spend their dollars at a company that cares.

– Maura Byrne
Photo: Flickr

Plastic Pollution in the Philippines
According to a 2015 report by the Ocean Conservancy charity and the McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment, the Philippines is the third-largest source of plastic pollution in the ocean and produces 2.7 million tons of plastic waste annually. The report also found that around 20 percent of that plastic waste ends up in the ocean. The reason for these concerning statistics is that plastic waste in the Philippines comes from individual packaging, called sachets, which often ends up in the ocean since it is non-recyclable and therefore of no value to recyclers who might otherwise recycle it for profit. All this plastic in the ocean then later floods into poor low lying neighborhoods and causes health hazards. However, in the Philippines, there are many organizations dedicated to protecting the environment, getting plastic out of the ocean and making sure it does not end up there in the first place. These are three organizations addressing plastic pollution in the Philippines, helping people in affected neighborhoods and trying to preserve the ocean’s biodiversity.

3 Organizations Addressing Plastic Pollution in the Philippines

  1. Mother Earth Foundation: Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) is an NGO that emerged in 1998 and has its headquarters in Quezon City, Philippines. For 20 years, MEF has been fighting to raise awareness about environmental problems and mobilizing the public to find solutions and create a more sustainable world. MEF’s legacy includes lobbying for the passage of the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. MEF is also a partner of the Northern Samar Coalition for Alleviation of Poverty, a partnership that focuses on tackling ecological issues faced by the people of Northern Samar in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines. In 2012, MEF partnered with schools in the northern Philippine town of San Fernando. MEF and the schools managed to salvage around 70 percent of the city’s waste that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill. Many still consider San Fernando to be one of the best zero-waste examples in the Asia-pacific. MEF continues to push for zero waste policies and recently organized the 2018 Zero Waste Academy which helps educate and train Filipinos and other Southeast Asians to implement zero waste policies in their communities.
  2. GAIA: GAIA came into being in South Africa in 2000. In its mission statement from its founding meeting, it outlined its vision: “GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration.” GAIA operates in more than 90 countries and it has been very active in the Asia Pacific and the Philippines. In the Philippines, GAIA has been instrumental in supporting the world’s only national ban on waste incineration for fifteen years. In addition to the ban, GAIA has been fighting polluting facilities, helping local communities develop and employ zero-waste systems and advocating for ecological policies in the Philippines. In 2017, GAIA along with other environmental activists began doing brand audits on polluted beaches. The concept is simple: GAIA tallies all the brand names it finds in the washed-up plastic trash and then publicizes it in order to shed light on the contaminating practices of corporations. So far, GAIA has completed over 20 brand audits in the Philippines and in neighboring countries.
  3. Break Free from Plastic: Break Free from Plastic emerged in 2016 in Tagaytay, Philippines, and its vision is to greatly reduce single-use-plastics and foster a world free of the toxic by-products of plastic pollution. Many organizations (1,475) around the world have joined Break Free from Plastic in its mission to fight for corporate responsibility of plastic pollution and promote zero-waste lifestyles and cities. As the founder of the group, Von Hernandez explained that Break Free from Plastic mainly wants to challenge the polluting corporations: “If we cannot recycle it or compost this material, then [the corporations] should not be producing them in the first place.” In the Philippines, Break Free from Plastic does community outreach and education, regular beach cleanups and participates in the aforementioned brand audits.

There are still islands of plastic in the ocean and total clean up is a near-impossible task but these three organizations are doing their best to put a dent into the plastic pollution that threatens health both in the Philippines and around the world. By promoting zero-waste policies and challenging the corporations who produce the non-recyclable sachets these three organizations are ensuring a better and cleaner future for Filipinos.

Isabel Fernandez
Photo: Flickr

 

 

Five Benefit Corporations Fighting Global Poverty
There are many large enterprises committed to fighting global poverty as a part of corporate social responsibility or through donations. However, a new category of benefit-driven corporations characterized by creating a social and environmental impact has become increasingly popular with the rise of sustainable development and impact investment.

Many of these companies are commonly known as social enterprises, B corporations or fourth sector companies. The list below provides examples of corporations fighting global poverty around the world and how they are actively tackling numerous world issues through their impact.

1. AUARA

This social enterprise focuses on fighting global poverty through providing access to clean water in order to decrease risk of disease. The corporation sells environmentally friendly water bottles in Spain and 100 percent of the company’s dividends are invested in providing clean water to those living in poverty around the world; as a result of these efforts, Auara has both an environmental and social impact.

In addition, these projects aimed at providing clean water are mostly carried out in Africa.

2. BETTER WORLD BOOKS

This is one of many American corporations fighting global poverty, but Better World Books strives to break the poverty cycle by focusing on education. In 2002, the founders created a business model based on the online collection and sale of new and used books for economic profit. All profit gained from this is then used to fund literacy projects around the world.

Due to economic profit, social literacy impact and reselling of unwanted books, this organization is said to have a triple impact. Since the creation of the company, 21 million books have been donated to Books for Africa, Room to Read and the National Center for Families Learning. This company has also raised over $24 million for literacy initiatives.

3. EBY

Sofia Vergara and Renata Black co-founded EBY as an undergarment line in 2017. This company is one of many American corporations fighting global poverty through female empowerment and microfinance. The main goal is to provide small loans to women so that they have the means to start their own businesses and thus become self-sufficient and independent.

EBY accomplishes this by contributing 10 percent of net sales to the Seven Bar Foundation; so far, the financed loans have helped women in Colombia, Haiti and Nicaragua.

4. INCLUYEME

Incluyeme is a corporation fighting global poverty by providing jobs to those with disabilities. Disabled populations are more likely to be unemployed, which gives them a difficult position from which to overcome poverty. This company created an online platform to connect disabled people looking for work with inclusive employers that match their profiles.

The company began in Argentina, but has now spread to different parts of Latin America and Spain, and will continue to grow to increase impact. Any profits made are reinvested into social initiative projects so as to maximize social impact within communities served.

5. ALCAGÜETE

This Colombian corporation aims to fight global poverty by addressing the issue of hunger and fighting malnutrition and obesity. Founded in 2014, Alcagüete is a line of healthy snacks that for every snack sold, the company gives a snack to a child in the country who is in need. Since its founding, they have given away 437,895 snacks to hungry children.

With corporations like these five, the fight against global poverty is stronger than ever. Now the question is which company will be the next B-Corp or social enterprise?

– Luz Solano-Flórez
Photo: Flickr

 Bangladesh
In April 2013, Rana Plaza — an eight-story factory building in Bangladesh — collapsed, killing 1,130 people. The structure housed a number of North American and European brands, including Benetton, Bon Marche, The Children’s Place and Joe Fresh. Bangladesh has the second largest garment industry in the world, valued at $28 billion and ranked just behind China, although it has the lowest wages globally for garment workers.

The disaster, considered to be one of the worst industrial tragedies in history, has led to a call for increased accountability and transparency in the clothing industry. While agreements such as the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh have been put in place in the aftermath of the accident, there are still steps the garment industry can take to repair its broken system.

Companies such as H&M, Walmart and Gap have voiced their interest in improving conditions, yet progress has been a slow and difficult process.

The Building

The Rana Plaza building, based in the Dhaka District, was owned by Sohel Rana, who constructed the factory in 2006 with his father. It was created from poor quality construction materials, while heavy, vibrating machinery operated within its walls. The ground that the building had been set upon had previously been a body of water and was swampy, containing rubbish.

When Rana was developing the structure, the upper floors were added illegally, without a permit, and the creation was not made in consent. Inspection teams found cracks in the building on the Tuesday before, but workers were ordered to return to the unsafe environment the following day. That morning, the factory collapsed, with over 3,000 people inside.

The Aftermath

In the aftermath of the incident, workers protested and coalitions came together to promote rights within the garment industry and take measures towards preventing a future crisis like Rana Plaza. On May 15, 2013, brands, retailers and trade unions — such as Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters and Fruit of the Loom — signed a five-year, legally binding agreement to create safer conditions in the Bangladesh Ready Made Garment industry, drafting the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

The Accord includes an inspection program, as well as the establishment of the right of workers to refuse unsafe work. Funds will be made available to repair any damaged equipment, and all corrective action plans and inspection reports will be publically disclosed.

Most recently, new signatories have continued to show solidarity for the Transition Accord, which extends the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh until after 2018.

Organizations, Brands and Change

In addition, a nine-member coalition including Human Rights Watch and the International Labor Rights Forum created the Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge, which demands that companies report on manufacturing sites and pertinent details twice a year.

The Follow the Thread Campaign, a coalition consisting of organizations such as Clean Clothes Campaign and Human Rights Watch, asked retail companies to sign a Transparency Pledge in April 2017.

Brands such as H&M, Walmart and Gap affirmed that they would like to participate in improving worker safety in Bangladesh. While Walmart did not sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, the company was one of the founding members of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a group of 28 retailers that holds standards and inspections, as well as supporting worker empowerment, among other practices.

Commitment to Transparency

Yet these initiatives have not been enough. Reports by the coalition the Asia Floor Wage Alliance show that many garment buildings in Bangladesh do not have adequate fire exits. According to 2015 research from New York University’s Stern School of Business, out of 3,425 inspections in Bangladesh that were held after the collapse, only eight addressed their violations fully enough to pass final inspections.

A commitment to transparency still remains a vital aspect of progress needed in the garment industry. Workers frequently experience abuse, while earning low wages, with Bangladesh’s minimum wage being 32 cents per hour.

Facing the powerful impact of the Rana Plaza tragedy of 2013, corporations and unions have come together to try to address the dangerous conditions found in Bangladesh’s garment industry (which is one of the world’s biggest). But for factories to move forward, businesses and human rights organizations will have to confront the negligence found within the system and recognize that fashion is not worth such a costly price.

We, as a globe, will need to see increased accountability and responsibility in the manufacturing places of clothing companies to learn from Rana Plaza and see workers’ conditions sustainably improve.

– Shira Laucharoen

Photo: Flickr

B Lab Uses Businesses as Forces for Good

The Sept. 1, 2017 passage of HB3488 adds Texas to the list of 33 states with official benefit corporation legislation. B Lab, a nonprofit that certifies for-profit corporations as B (beneficial) Corporations, lobbies states to change regulations surrounding company profits. Successful passage of this newest legislation signifies the growing strength of the B Corporation movement.

B Lab aims to create beneficial social change through for-profit businesses. The nonprofit provides B Corporation certifications to businesses that pass a rigorous assessment that asks about everything from environmental impact to employee benefits. Companies that score high enough on the assessment then must amend their articles of incorporation to consider the interests of employees, the community and the environment.

As of 2014, over 1,000 companies spanning over 30 countries and 60 industries are B Certified. Some of the larger companies to become B Corporations are Etsy, Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia.

The certification allows businesses to market themselves as socially responsible to customers and investors. B Lab still works to drive profits at B Corporations — the aim of the initiative is to show that beneficial corporations can be just as profitable as their competitors. B Certificates separate companies that actually do good from companies that simply market themselves as socially conscious.

B Lab has created the Global Impact Investment Rating System (GIIRS) to assess the relative social impact of corporations worldwide. The rating system is overseen by an independent board of experts and regulators to maintain neutrality.

In the U.S., B Lab has encountered some difficulty expanding B Certifications to all states. Laws pertaining to corporate profits vary from state to state. Some states rule that corporations are obligated to prioritize profits over all else in order to maximize revenue earned by shareholders. This rule means B Corporations cannot operate in these states, since B Lab requires companies to change their articles of incorporation to equally prioritize social responsibility and profit. Therefore, B Lab campaigns for changes to corporate laws on the state level. Currently, 33 states allow B Corporations and an additional six have pending legislation.

B Lab’s influence extends past U.S. borders. Roshan, a cellphone service provider in Afghanistan with 6.5 million subscribers, is an example of a B Corporation that benefits a developing country. The company challenges Afghanistan’s gender norms — 20% of the corporation’s labor force and 17% of its senior management team are women.

Additionally, Roshan has invested $700 million in infrastructure and additional millions in community development projects like well-building and the formation of computer learning centers. Through these investments, Roshan has created 30,000 jobs in Afghanistan.

Roshan’s focus on community development is not purely altruistic. The company’s investments add to its customer base by creating revenue sources for more citizens. For example, Roshan initiated a program to teach women how to fix mobile phones. Today, the proliferation of secondhand mobile phones has expanded Roshan’s customer base.

B Lab’s mobilization of businesses as forces for good has the potential to positively impact impoverished communities. By utilizing the private sector as a vehicle for social change, B Lab proves that corporate profits and community wealth are not mutually exclusive.

Katherine Parks

Photo: Flickr


It’s no secret that Americans love to go out to eat. Choosing take out or driving to the nearest food drive always sounds better than working in the kitchen for what seems like hours. Luckily, for those times that a good burger or pizza sounds too delicious to pass up, there are still opportunities to help the world’s poor as restaurants adopt new policies of corporate social responsibility.

Restaurants everywhere are catching on to the notion that they can adopt a policy of corporate social responsibility and use their position in society to help people who are in need. According to an article in AdWeek, Millennials are civic-minded and have more recently demanded that companies and corporations be civic-minded as well by giving back to society. Millennials want to create change, take responsibility for the world and help those who are unable to help themselves.

The 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR (corporate social responsibility) Study found that 9 in 10 millennials would drop one brand and replace it with a more socially conscious one. Furthermore, 62 percent of millennials would willingly take a pay cut if it meant working for a socially responsible company. Millennials are dedicated to staying socially responsible in all areas of their lives.

Many people know of clothing brands and large corporations that are donating sums of money or have a one-for-one philanthropic model with clothes, shelter and other essential items. In a similar way, there are now many restaurants that are donating food to hungry people all over the world.

Some major brands, including Panera Bread, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Yum Brand restaurants and Zambrero donate to charitable causes specific to eradicating hunger worldwide. Some restaurants name the charities they are working with right in their mission statement. For example, Malawi’s Pizza serves “pizza with a purpose,” has a Meal for Meal Exchange program and has sent 923,859 meals to orphans in Malawi since its inception.

These are only a few options. The good news is there are many more corporations that care about good causes. Staying educated on corporate social responsibility is the most efficient way to be up-to-date with which corporations are making a difference because those are the ones that should maintain support. The more demanding consumers are of socially responsible corporations, the more they will appear and, as a result, Americans can begin taking more responsibility for those in need everywhere.

Emily Arnold

Photo: Flickr

Ikea_Serbia

A new e-permit system in Serbia, created with the help of USAID, has shortened the process for obtaining a construction permit from 240 to 28 days. It cut out the 50-plus interactions between the investor and the government. One can register for an e-permit through the Business Register’s Agency website, the Minister of Construction website, or other government websites.

The new e-permit system will help develop Serbia’s important infrastructure as well, particularly transportation. Serbia has been called the “gateway to Europe” as it is the crossroads between Western Europe and the Middle East. The Serbian parliament is looking for private investment in this sector, and the e-permits system has made this process more efficient. In addition, the new e-permit system is allowing the Clinical Center of Serbia to build new healthcare facilities. New jobs in the construction sector lead to new jobs in other sectors. The new e-permit system has not only helped construction in Serbia, it has increased the nation’s GDP by 3.5% in the first quarter of 2016.

One company already taking advantage of the new system is IKEA, and its investment is expected to bring 700 million euros and 300 new jobs to the nation. IKEA took advantage of the new permit process to build a new store in Belgrade. This new store is expected to open in July 2017. IKEA will be the first international business to invest in Serbia after the introduction of the country’s new construction e-permit system. The store in Belgrade is only the first store IKEA is building in Serbia, and the company is planning to invest 300 million euros in five stores across the nation.

IKEA will hopefully pave the way for more investment in Serbia, whether through creating new businesses or encouraging domestic construction in Serbia.

Jennifer Taggart

Photo: Flickr