October 18, 2011

Strengthening Public-Private Partnerships for Social and Economic Development

BCLC announced its plan for its 2007 global corporate citizenship program in front of an audience of 100 corporate, UN, NGO, and media representatives. The announcement took place at JPMorgan Chase's New York headquarters during BCLC's September 7th forum, held in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber, U.S. Council for International Business, and UN Fund for International Partnerships.

The forum began with JPMorgan Chase Chairman Bill Harrison discussing why emerging markets are important to CEOs today — the opportunity for growth is promising — and how companies can blend corporate citizenship interests with economic interests in developing countries.

UN Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown followed Harrison's remarks by stating that in terms of international business, emerging markets either already are or could be important parts of U.S. companies' supply chains. He added that philanthropically, the dollar-for-dollar impact in developing countries is more profound than in U.S. and other developed-world communities.

Through two panel discussions, forum participants emphasized that attracting investors and creating a positive local business climate is key for developing countries to find a sustainable way out of poverty. Companies often direct corporate citizenship activities to countries in which a long-term business presence is feasible and where the opportunity to partner with local institutions, including small businesses, is good. A way to open emerging markets to foreign investment, they said, is to recognize when there is a local success story involving all of the key development players and to share the experience with the development and business communities as an example of how to connect goals.

In some developing countries, the nature of the legal and regulatory frameworks needs to be tackled before foreign investors seriously consider the countries. For example, southern Africa is now 15 years behind Asia and Latin America in terms of developing capital markets, and in Egypt, a word for "corporate governance" does not exist. Panelists argued that countries need to have incentives to fix the problems that dissuade businesses from operating there, and that companies would benefit by having a central place for getting information about local business climates and government frameworks.