An Indian software solution provider, ZMQ Software Systems, had recently taken the initiative to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS across India using mobile technology. Their unique effort has been well-appreciated and the organization was honored today for their efforts.
Under the banner "Freedom HIV/AIDS ", on December 1 2005, ZMQ released four mobile phone games to help combat the spread of the virus and fight stigma and discrimination. In the span of 15 months, the four games reached 42 million people in India, with a download of 10.3 million game sessions.
The company received one of the World Business and Development Awards (WBDA) in New York today.
"The new socio-business model of ZMQ is a blend of its core competency with social development, which is a step beyond corporate social responsibility," said Subhi Quraishi, Chief Executive of ZMQ. "In the fight against poverty and disease, businesses should move from being responsible corporate citizens to being agents of transformation."
Held under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade, the Award Ceremony is part of the special focus on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) during the opening week of the United Nations' General Assembly in New York.
The World Business and Development Awards (WBDA) showcase creative initiatives by corporations, large and small, who apply their core business expertise to world-wide efforts to achieve the MDGs. In total this year's winners improved the lives of millions of poor people across Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Awards were co-hosted by the United Nations Development Programme, the International Chamber of Commerce and the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF).
ZMQ were among ten private companies recognized by the WBDA for their work in improving the lives of the world's most disadvantaged people.
From a family-owned soybean business in Ghana, to one of the leading telecommunications companies in the Philippines, these firms prove that making a profit and 'doing the right thing' are not mutually exclusive.
This year's award winners include projects that provide Nigerian farmers with commercial finance and technical assistance to produce higher quality crops, expand electricity to the poorest neighborhoods of Brazil and provide credit services to the poor through mobile phones in Kenya.
The WBDA winners prove that companies can be an engine of both growth and development. By mobilizing human and financial resources, they can be a valuable source of innovation and can promote positive change. Business can create domestic employment and wealth, and promote an entrepreneurial spirit, all of which contribute directly to reaching the MDGs.
"As the world becomes more interdependent, doing business with the poor has shown not only to be a potential boost to a company's competitiveness, but also - with the right business model - to be a force in the fight against poverty." said Kemal Dervis, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
"We are presenting a new approach to develop long-term business initiatives to harness the resources and talents that are the central strength of global business. This is a potent demonstration of our collective commitment to being a strong partner to the private sector in furthering shared aims."
It's this spirit that led to the formation of The Global Partnership for the Business Call to Action, launched earlier today at a lunch hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the day before his High-Level Event on the MDGs.
The CEOs of Yara, Ericsson and Map International announced new initiatives that attempt to tackle food shortages in Mozambique and Tanzania, improve access to financial services for more than two million people living in rural Uganda and develop mobile applications that focus on health solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Global Partnership aims to increase momentum and mobilize the efforts of the private sector to support growth in developing countries and contribute to the achievement of the goals.
Companies, that signed up to the Business Call to Action in May are challenged to develop specific core business initiatives and turn their signatures into concrete action. A Business Call to Action Secretariat will be formed to monitor these initiatives and assess their contribution to fighting poverty and eradicating hunger.
The WBDA and the Business Call to Action are not about philanthropy. They challenge companies to use their core business - be it manufacturing, finance or telecommunications-- in a way that contributes both to sustainable development and to their own commercial success. They aim to inspire CEOs and companies to realize that reducing poverty also makes good business sense.
Initiatives like the WBDA and the Business Call to Action aim to build awareness of the MDGs in the business community and to share lessons on what works well for both businesses and the world's poor in the hope that it can be replicated globally.