Businesses and poverty

Good business is about much more than making money. From multi-nationals to small businesses, private companies have the potential to lift millions of people out of poverty.

Fairer prices

In 2013/14, we helped 200,000 producers negotiate better prices for their goods in more markets.

Campaigning for change

In 2009 nearly 100,000 people contacted Starbucks and persuaded them to pay Ethiopian farmers a fair price for their coffee beans.

The issue

The world's largest companies and corporations have an enormous impact on people in the developing world. And they can be a powerful force for good. They invest far more than governments can ever deliver in overseas aid. They create job opportunities, give people the chance to learn new skills, and generate the wages communities desperately need to escape poverty.

But big business can also do more harm than good.

Around the world, many workers aren't paid enough to live on. Others suffer dangerous, unhealthy working conditions. And many see their basic human rights either neglected or actively exploited on a daily basis.

That's why Oxfam's work with the private sector is so vital - working in partnership wherever possible and challenging whenever necessary.  

What we're doing

Working with the good

Many global corporations are genuinely committed to making a positive difference in developing countries. Oxfam works in partnership with these businesses, using our influence to help them improve their policies and practices.

Such as in Azerbaijan, where, with the support of Unilever's partner "Agrotara", we're helping ensure that smallholder farmers will be able to sell some of their produce on European supermarket shelves. In the long term, smallholder farmers will have better access to local, regional and global markets. This will help up to 20,000 smallholder farmers earn a decent living from their products.

But it doesn't stop there. We're also working at community level, supporting local entrepreneurs, family businesses, producers and workers, helping them to make a success of what they do.

Working in this way - from the multi-national to local level - works. For example, in West Africa we work right across the cotton industry at every level of production - from small farmers to large textile manufacturers and clothing retailers. It's helping to ensure local people's interests are protected. And change lives for the better.

Taking on the bad

When big business puts lives and livelihoods at risk, we take them on. So when Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis launched a legal battle to challenge India's right to produce cheap, generic versions of medicines, half a million people - including 80,000 Oxfam supporters - voiced their opposition. It worked! Novartis dropped their challenge. And millions of people are now receiving the affordable medicines they desperately need.

Innovating for the future

By collaborating with experts, we're pioneering new ways for corporate supporters to fight poverty. Our Enterprise Development Programme, designed in partnership with UK business leaders, aims to provide investment and advice to small, rural enterprises in some of the world's remotest regions. Life-changing stuff.

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Make a donation and support our work to tackle food poverty, reduce food waste, and find long lasting solutions to the underlying causes of poverty in the UK.

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