A Project Meeting with the Private Sector on ''Supporting Rural Communities'' and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Jul 11, 2014

Speech given by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Directror ad interim Mr Michel Balima

Minister of Industry, Small and Medium Enterprises,

Honorable Members of the Government,

Representatives of commercial enterprises from the private sector, with your credentials and qualifications,

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to speak this morning on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, at the occasion of this meeting where we exchange opinions and experiences on the project entitled ''Supporting Rural Communities'', as well as on corporate social responsibility, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The presence of His Excellency Minister of the Industry, Small and Medium Enterprises, and that of private firms' representatives, clearly illustrates the interest and the importance that we all attach to improving the living conditions of the rural population in Congo.

We know, indeed, that the rural population in the DR Congo lives in particularly difficult conditions. A wide variety of partners, each in their own domain, need to join efforts in order to alleviate poverty and support the vulnerable populations, far too often forgotten, ensuring their most essential needs: food, health, education and housing. The UNDP has been working in this area for several years now, and it supports the Government of the DR Congo in this regard.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since 2012 the UNDP has engaged in a constructive dialogue with the private sector in order to examine what can be implemented on the ground, and what kind of contribution the private sector can make to poverty reduction and to sustainable human development.

I am pleased to note that, since the last quarter of 2013, two commercial companies (Airtel and Rawbank) have joined the UNDP with a view to launching a joint initiative in the province of South Kivu, entitled ''Supporting Rural Communities''. This particular province was chosen on the basis of the communities' actual needs and the expertise accumulated by the UNDP in this region.

To this date, the joint project has allowed to:

Improve the access of populations impoverished by decenies of war to financial services;

Create jobs for the young in a context where they were, unfortunately, easily recruited by negative forces;

Lay the foundations for real social cohesion in a zone which had longtime been suffering from the effects of various conflicts.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I strongly commend the initiative and the commitment of these two firms, Airtel et Rawbank.

I invite other entrepreneurs who are present here today to follow suit, as this is also concerns the question of corporate social responsibility, which is not only a voluntary step, but also a requirement that private companies participate in sustainable human development of the communities to which they belong.

This initiative forms part of a more comprehensive project named ''Global Compact'', launched by the United Nations in 2000 in order to encourage private sector companies around the world to adopt a socially-responsible attitude by integrating human rights, international labour standards, the fight against corruption and the protection of the environment into their operations.

Global Compact also seeks to involve the private sector in bringing greater peace to the communities, particularly those living in post-conflict situations, as is the case in the DR Congo.

In specific terms, Walungu's ''Supporting Rural Communities'' project  will give the opportunity to these populations to access new skills via training on the gestion of micro-enterprises and thanks to the provision of a cyberspace for the purposes of informing, but also thanks to the access to credit via a branch of a partner microfinance institution in Walungu.

Around 200 micro-entrepreneurs are targeted and will be supported during this year by this microfinance institution. The goals of this strategic and cooperative partnership with the rural communities include greater revenues, more jobs, better entrepreneurial skills and a progress in sustainable human development.

Let me reiterate the comment made by Ms Helen Clark, the UNDP Administrator, in her address to China's private sector in 2012, which was, I cite :

''The UNDP collaborates with the private sector through an approach advocating the synergy of economic growth, social development, and environmental sustainability.  The approach gives special attention to inclusion and equality, particularly gender equality.

In addition, the UNDP works with the private sector to strengthen resilience and the prevention of social and financial conflicts and economic crises, of environmental damage, and natural disasters.'' End of quote.

This is why the UNDP wishes to multiply its forums for discussion and exchange- to encourage the private sector to get involved in more actions, embrace more social responsibility and develop inclusive business models which take into account poor, rural and marginalised groups.

It is my firm belief that the DR Congo needs the help of the private sector for its further development.

The UNDP is thus willing to further reflect on these issues and refine its strategies in favour of rural communities. This will also help us replicate together our first experience from Walungu in other areas of the country where people have the same needs.

In this perspective, the UNDP will make every effort to continue the dialogue so as to strengthen the Global Compact, whose stakeholder it is.

Long live the Democratic Republic of Congo,

Long live international cooperation

Thank you.






















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