Submitted by Helen Clark, United Nations Development Programme Administrator and former Prime Minister of New Zealand

Helen Clark: Official Photo

Helen Clark: Official Photo

I’m looking forward to attending the tonight, to celebrate best practice in the private sector which is contributing to achieving the MDGs. UNDP worked with the International Chamber of Commerce and the International Business Leaders Forum to organize these awards, along with USAID, DFID, the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency, the UN Foundation, and the Global Compact Office.

Tonight’s awards honor ten companies which have helped improve the lives of people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Together, they have helped to accelerate our shared work towards creating a world of people who have access to higher incomes, education and more basic services. They show us that it’s possible to do good work and good business, at the same time.

UNDP’s new report, “The MDGs: Everyone’s Business,” cites numerous instances of companies —large and small— which are implementing inclusive business models. Along with the Rainforest Alliance and large buyers, for example, we’re helping coffee farmers in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru sell their coffee at premium price and lift their standard of living. Soon we’ll be launching a new effort to promote inclusive business initiatives in Africa. We’ll be working with officials and businesses to help the African private sector, thereby igniting the economy and creating badly needed jobs, especially for women and young people who often miss out.

Through its investments and activities, the private sector can create jobs, nurture entrepreneurs and innovators, contribute to tax revenue, and meet everyday demand for the goods and services we all use and need—and for which the poorest among us all too often pay the highest prices. It can definitely be a catalyst for change in creating the world we want.