Europe Seeks to Boost Cross-Sector Collaboration

The European Commission and industry are exploring ways to fund public-private partnerships in international development. Ongoing discussions mark the first joint effort to stimulate cross-sector activity to aid the poorest of the poor. CSR Europe, the Brussels-based think-tank for corporate social responsibility, is facilitating discussions between the EC and interested private-sector organizations, including Vodafone, Microsoft, Danone, Unilever, Procter & Gamble and France Telecom, through a "Base of the Pyramid Laboratory," a discussion forum that will result in a white paper due out in November 2008. The Base of the Pyramid demographic refers to the "poorest of the poor," those living on less than $2 a day, considered as emerging markets for the private sector. Conventional business models are re-designed to help alleviate poverty and meet the needs of BoP consumers. A draft of the white paper assesses the EC's current development strategy and synergies between EC and private-sector initiatives. Plans for a new fund for cross-sector projects are also discussed in the draft.