The B Team and Safaricom today announced plans to create The B Team – Eastern Africa, a new not-for-profit initiative, created by regional business leaders to catalyse a better way of doing business for the wellbeing of people and the planet – and responding to the specific challenges and opportunities of the markets in Eastern Africa.
By raising their collective voice and leading by example, The B Team Eastern Africa will catalyse CEOs, investors and entrepreneurs to lead their companies and sectors in a more sustainable direction.
Speaking at the SDG Conference hosted by Safaricom, CEO Bob Collymore said members of The B Team Eastern Africa will help more companies to go further and faster on their journey to sustainability.
“Working together, we can demonstrate that it’s possible to create companies in which doing what’s better for the planet and its people is also better for business,” Collymore said. “There is no business argument for a world that continues to consume and produce itself into oblivion. We need an economic system that does a better job of extending prosperity to all, reducing inequality, and preserving the planet for future generations.”
The new leaders will commit to participate in at least one of the organization’s anchor initiatives: Net Zero by 2050; Governance & Transparency; 100% Human at Work – and by joining calls to action and advocacy statements on key policy issues, at critical moments.
Through this, they will collectively respond to 10 critical challenges facing business, such as reducing environmental impacts, increasing business transparency, adopting longer-term business strategies and ensuring fairness and equity for workers throughout the supply chain.
The launch of The B Team in Eastern Africa kicks-off a broader global campaign, in which The B Team will organise regional platforms around the world to increase the number of company leaders who are willing and able to “step up” and lead this transition.
The announcement comes on the heels of the release of a new report, produced by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, which provides substantial evidence of the massive global economic opportunities that can be unlocked by new business models focused on addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The commission reports that achieving the SDGs will be worth at least US$1.1 trillion by 2030 for the private sector in Africa, potentially creating more than 85 million new jobs, with affordable housing accounting for more than 13 million of these jobs.
In some respects, Africa’s development future looks bright. Already the world’s second-fastest growing regional economy, signs of development are spreading across the continent. From rapidly modernizing and growing urban centers to a thriving, plugged-in middle class, Africa is drawing even more interest from investors, and inspiring a rising generation of innovative young entrepreneurs.
But while Africa’s economies have been growing for the past 20 years, and the share of people living in extreme poverty has declined, the total number of people living in poverty has actually grown since 1990. Nearly half of the world’s extreme poor live in Sub-Saharan Africa: in 2013, more than 389 million Africans were living on less than US$1.90 a day, more than all other regions combined.
Population growth and expanding inequality explain part of this paradox. Seven of the 10 most unequal countries are in Africa, and income gaps are expanding between cities and rural, agricultural areas.
Socio-economic indicators in the region are a mixed bag. Literacy is increasing, and newborn survival rates have improved dramatically, while chronic malnutrition has fallen. At the same time, millions still lack sufficient access to quality nutrition, health care or education. Too many Africans have barely been touched by the economic growth trend.
Meanwhile, many of the worst impacts of climate change – including droughts and food insecurity – are felt most acutely in Africa.
Today, famine resulting from failing rains, aid delays and armed conflict is causing a humanitarian crisis for tens of millions of people in Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria. This in turn causes massive flows of displaced people. According to UNHCR, sub-Saharan Africa is host to more than one-quarter of the world’s refugees.
Many of these entrenched challenges trace back to a deeply flawed economic model which has produced world-changing improvements in the quality of life – alongside vast inequality.
Business – which has contributed to many of these ills – is also an indispensable actor in resolving them.
The potential prize for business to align their business goals with the SDGs is significant. The Business Commission identified 60 sustainable and inclusive market “hotspots” in just four key areas (energy; cities; food and agriculture; health and wellbeing) that could create at least US$12 trillion in business value by 2030 – equivalent to 10 percent of forecast GDP – and generate up to 380 million jobs, mostly in developing countries like ours.
New business models will help people, communities and nations thrive by creating jobs, reducing inequality, reviving the middle class, increasing access to quality health, nutrition and education and lifting billions of people out of extreme poverty.
“This is an important step in our mission to facilitate a global transition to more sustainable ways of doing business. We’re pleased that CEOs and other leaders here have expressed an interest in joining forces with us,” said Keith Tuffley, CEO of The B Team. “Working together, we can continue to grow a continent-wide business movement in Africa, operating in ways that address our most acute ecological and social challenges, and protecting the health and well-being of millions.”