SEATTLE, Washington — It is easy to be cynical about corporate responsibility, especially in an era where it sounds more like a flashy buzz word than a truly positive change. However, while there are many cases of corporations using philanthropy as little more than a marketing tool, there are also plenty of corporations teaming up with governments and NGOs in order to put their expertise to humanitarian uses. Below are three corporations with humanitarian outreach projects.
Three Corporations with Humanitarian Outreach
- Nokia – Nokia is a Finnish multinational telecommunications corporation famous for its hardy cellphones. However, Nokia deals with far more than electronics: the corporation also has a number of successful humanitarian programs. In the devastating aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Nokia provided technology that helped health workers to install and monitor water chlorination systems in more than 35,000 Haitian homes. These systems are particularly important because they are crucial in combating and preventing cholera.
More recently, in 2017, the company launched Nokia Saving Lives, which is a nonprofit initiative that provides technology like drones, video streaming, gas sensing, mapping and analytics to emergency response teams. These technologies, in combination with Nokia broadband and local mobile network providers, have sped up emergency responses significantly. In February 2017, Nokia Saving Lives won the UAE Drones for Good award by demonstrating how their drones could quickly locate people in disaster areas.
- Danone – Danone is a French multinational food-products corporation best known for its yogurts, which can be found in grocery aisles all around the world. In addition to building success in the food industry, Danone also uses its products to improve nutrition in the developing world. In 2006, Danone, in a partnership with Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, started a nonprofit program to sell nutritionally fortified yogurt. This initiative both helped alleviate malnutrition in Bangladeshi children and improved the income of native milk producers, as Danone paid them more to help produce this special yogurt.
Since 2011, Danone has also published its “Green Book,” which aims to outline an ethical marketing policy for their products towards infants and young children. As the book explains Danone’s mission is “to bring health through food to as many people as possible” and to ensure that their nutritional products (especially those regarding infant nutrition) reach developed and developing countries equally.
- Visa – Visa is an American multinational financial services corporation with a number of products. Their main focus is on Visa-branded credit cards, gift cards and debit cards. Visa has put their cards to use in many humanitarian disasters as a way to distribute funds quickly to those who need it most.
In 2010, after an unusually heavy monsoon season in Pakistan, enormous floods left more than 20 million Pakistanis homeless. Short-term financial aid was essential for these people whose entire lives had been swept away in the flooding. The Government of Pakistan, one of the nation’s largest banks and Visa joined forces in order to provide flood survivors with prepaid debit cards, each loaded with $235. Aid organizations distributed the cards to the affected communities while Visa worked with local merchants in order to create the infrastructure needed to accept the cards. These Visa cards allowed flood victims to purchase basic necessities and begin to reconstruct their lives. The project also modernized Pakistan’s financial system by making access to financial tools easier for lower-income and rural Pakistanis.
A similar project was undertaken by Visa in 2012 after landslides in Sapucaia, Brazil displaced hundreds of people. Federal funds were distributed to the people of Sapucaia through the Defensa Civil Visa cards. These Defensa Civil cards are a collaboration between The Ministry of National Integration, the Banco of Brazil, the OCG and Visa. They make it easier for federal funds to be transferred when there are emergencies.In Sapucaia, Visa allowed for safe and fast payments that helped the local government rebuild the area quickly and provided immediate aid, like temporary shelters, to those affected by the landslides. So far, the Defensa Civil Visa cards have supported 217 districts in Brazil and the program currently has no end date in sight.
Corporations for Good
These three corporations with humanitarian outreach show just how many forms aid can take. Humanitarian aid is no longer an endeavor exclusively undertaken by NGOs or international organizations, but instead, is taking root in the private sector. By partnering up with more traditional humanitarian aid programs, these three corporations with humanitarian outreach have proven they can provide more than just financial support. Nokia, Danone and Visa have supplied infrastructure, cutting-edge technologies and invaluable skills and expertise in order to help those in need.