How Can International Government Donors Help Businesses Scale their Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals?

Join us for a live written discussion with a panel of experts to explore how can international government donors help businesses scale their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals?

Live Panel

Thursday 7th November 2019 15:00 – 16:00 GMT / 10:00 – 11:00 EST. ADD TO CALENDAR

It is now generally acknowledged that the additional $2.5 trillion annual investment in developing countries needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be delivered without the active engagement of the private sector. All sectors with a stake in the SDGs, including governments, development organisations, business and civil society are therefore increasingly focused on working together and to unlocking the potential of business to tackle big global challenges like poverty, inequality and climate change.

International development partners, like DFID for example, are employing new tools and instruments to partner with large companies, individually and collectively, to help them be more proactive agents in achieving the SDGs by scaling their positive impacts, and by taking responsibility for minimising their negative impacts.

Examples of innovative business–donor partnerships are growing, but what is less clear is which models work and which do not, which have the most impact, where gaps in business engagement persist and what are the greatest areas of business need and opportunity, which donors can help to support and scale. To help answer these questions, DFID is working with Business Fights Poverty to better understand how international donors can help catalyse action by large companies to scale their contribution to the SDGs.


Tomas Zaborowski, Head of Sustainability Excellence, Bayer

Mario Gonzalez, Community Development Corporate Leader, CEMEX

Eva Halper, Director, Corporate Citizenship, Credit Suisse

Nina Schuler, Private Sector Adviser, DFID

Christina Tewes-Gradl, Managing Director, Endeva

Peter McAllister, Executive Director, Ethical Trading Initiative

Robin Bonsey, Project Manager, Hystra

Michelle Battat Scheinmann, Public Affairs Manager, Mars

Paul Ellingstad Interim Director, Social Innovation, Pearson

Caroline Rees, President and CEO, SHIFT

Darian Stibbe, Executive Director, The Partnering Initiative

Sashi Jayatileke, Team Lead of Development Finance, Impact Investing and Entrepreneurship, USAID

Moderator: Richard Gilbert, Challenge Director, Business Fights Poverty


  1. Where are we currently seeing the most impactful and replicable results from responsible and inclusive business partnerships between government donors and large companies and industries/sectors, and what are some good examples?

  2. What are we learning about what holds companies back when seeking to scale inclusive business models or responsible business practices, and how can government donors help to remove these barriers?

  3. What sustainable development issues (eg: climate change, human rights, deforestation, corruption) should be prioritised for collaboration by government donors and large companies and industries/sectors?

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Welcome to today’s online discussion on the future of business - donor partnerships. My name is Richard Gilbert and I will be moderating the session today. Can I please ask the panel to introduce themselves.

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Good afternoon, good morning, all. I’m Darian Stibbe, the director of The Partnering Initiative, an international NGO dedicated to unleashing the power of partnership for sustainable development. I look forward to today’s discussions.

It’s great to see so many friends and colleagues on the panel!

Some useful partnering for inclusive business tools:

Hi everyone. I’m Michelle Scheinmann from Mars. My team is responsible for leading our global engagement with the development finance community. Pleased to be here and look forward to the discussion.

Good morning! I’m Caroline Rees, President of Shift, a non-profit organization working with companies, governments, investors and civil society to make respect for human rights part of how business gets done.

Good afternoon everyone, Robin Bonsey from Hystra, a strategy consultancy specialised in inclusive businesses, looking forward to our chat

Hello all,
I’m Nina Schuler, Private Sector Advisor in the UK Department for International Development’s Responsible and Inclusive Business Team. We work with businesses as partners to deliver the SDGs. Looking forward to today’s chat.

Hi! I am Christina, Founder and Managing Director of Endeva, and an expert on inclusive business. I have been working on partnerships between large companies and governments both in an advisory and research capacity.

hi, this is Eva Halper, I work in Corporate Citizenship at Credit Suisse

Thanks everyone - right let’s get going with the first question:

Q1: Where are we currently seeing the most impactful and replicable results from responsible and inclusive business partnerships between government donors and large companies and industries/sectors, and what are some good examples?

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Good morning everyone! I work with USAID’s Office of Private Capital and Microenterprise.

The most interesting examples of partnerships happen on a more structural or systemic level. For example, the work that is happening around the WEF GROW initiative to bring together governments, private sector and others for a more productive agricultural sector, lifting up small farmers. These initiatives like SAGCOT manage to leverage funds from both sides, improve the enabling environment, including policies and infrastructure, and thereby lift all boats.

Also interesting is the MAKE-IT Alliance by the German government and private sector partners. It connects large companies to tech startups in Africa, with a focus on social impact. It thus helps large companies identify relevant innovations and impact ventures to tap into large companies’ competencies.


As for bilateral partnerships, there are certainly good examples, but the big issue is sustainability. Many good initiatives end when the partnership ends.

I am mostly aware of examples in the education sector where governments are revising national curricula with the input from other sectors eg NGOs and business or where there’s a need to address employability issues through skills/vocational training efforts. *In Switzerland for example, where CS is headquartered, there is a very effective collaboration between industry (including competitors!), government and the education sector to provide apprenticeships to young people.

Another example I am aware of is an initiative that consisted of an industry-based consortium convened by a national government aid dept…The group identified which industries in a particular developing economy (where all the companies were operating) suffered from a lack of key skills– for ex in the hospitality industry, in electronic engineering etc). The group funded the set up and running (for about a decade) of vocational training courses for young people not in education or training. Eventually, these vocational training courses were taken on by the government as part of its the regular national curriculum

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Good morning and afternoon. Today from Sao Paula I want first to thank BFP for this opportunity. My name is Tomas Zaborowski Head of Sustainability Excellence at Bayer Crop Science. Living in Germany but originally from Argentina. I believe the importance of agriculture and its role in overcoming societal challenges like food security, biodiversity, climate change and alleviating hunger and malnutrition. Especially as I consider that agriculture is at the center of all United Nation Sustainable Development Goals.

USAID is testing the way we can work with private sector to support impact bonds. Development Impact Bonds (DIBs) are an innovative way to finance development by incentivizing a shared focus towards results. DIBs are 100% focused on outcomes and have the potential to leverage private investor capital to address some of the world’s greatest challenges. The India Development Impact Bond aims to reduce the number of mother and baby deaths by improving the quality of maternal care in Rajasthan, India’s health facilities. It will support approximately 440 health facilities to improve services, meet new government quality standards and adhere to them over the long term.

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There are initiatives to address important global issues where only a cross-sectoral approach has the best likelihood of moving the needs – these are environment/ climate change; food security; health (non-communicable / life style illnesses and mental health). For example, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves:

I see a lot of examples coming up that bring new skills to agriculture and other industries or supporting education and health or new forms of finance. This is great and so much needed. But when I look at the area we focus on at Shift – how business can reduce risks to people from business activities and global value chains – we see few direct partnerships between business and international donors. This is a significant gap. It takes tremendous innovation and collaboration to reduce the human impacts of how business gets done: impacts that are behind the growing inequalities affecting our societies. We need to see far more partnerships with donors in this space.

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One solution to make partnerships between corporates and govnerment donors more sustainable is to work at an industry level rather than with individual companies, and with a variety of public and private donors. At Hystra we helped set up the Toilet Board Coalition gathering several corporates and development agencies to crack and scale up business model innovations in sanitation. It has been active for over 3 years now. Having several sponsors helps initiatives survive changes in sponsorship