ClimateCare’s Robert Stevens considers the critical role that meaningful employment plays in improving life for communities in the developing world – tackling poverty, improving health and creating new opportunities.
Almost 200 million people are currently unemployed across the world. And, according to the World Bank, an extra 600 million jobs must be created by the end of the decade – mainly in Africa and Asia – just to accommodate young people entering the workforce. (IFC – Job study Report (2013)
Jobs do much more than provide income. They allow families better access to amenities like safe water and reliable energy, which in turn free up time and money and improve health and education. In a virtuous circle this leads to a new generation of skilled, educated and aspirational young people, equipped to take advantage of new opportunities. So, creating sustainable jobs can go on to change life for entire communities and, on a larger scale, underpin social cohesion across countries and regions. This make investment in sustainable job creation a cost effective way to deliver long term, positive development impact.
With 9 out of 10 jobs in developing countries currently provided by the private sector, it is clear that the global business community has a major role in providing these jobs – and in reaching SDG8 of ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth for all’. At ClimateCare, we recognise this and work with both international corporate partners and local businesses and entrepreneurs across Africa and Asia to both reduce the barriers to employment and directly create job opportunities in low-income communities.
And there are business benefits from investing in job creation too.
Raising the standard of employment within your supply chain and creating meaningful employment in communities where your businesses operates, makes business sense. It can increase productivity, secure longer term supply of your raw materials, improve government and local relations, build brand value and aid your recruitment and retention of the best team members.
In the long term, sustainable employment programmes also support business growth. Developing skills now, can be an investment in your future workforce, making future growth easier and investing in emerging markets could even stimulate new demand for products and services.
So, if you want to invest in projects that create employment, what types of activities should you think about?
In addition to programmes that create jobs directly, if you want to drive change at scale you should consider projects that tackle some of the key barriers to employment, such as access to power. In one study, the World Bank estimates that providing access to power across India would multiply job creation by almost 40:1. Reliable energy particularly helps rural women gain employment, by freeing up time and money for education and income generating activities. For example, in South Africa, electrification of rural communities led to an increase in female employment. (Dinkleman (2008))
Another way to positively impact employment prospects is to support access to basic services like safe water and clean cooking solutions, By reducing exposure to indoor air pollution and waterborne disease these interventions improve health and opportunity to work. These programmes also reduce the time spent collecting fuel and water – freeing it up for income generating activities and help children spend more time in school – increasing skill levels.
As an organisation specialising in using market solutions to drive sustainable development, ClimateCare has a long history of helping business and government tackle barriers to work and create sustainable employment.
We deliver projects for companies who want to invest in their supply chains, improving working conditions through the provision of life changing products. For example our work with Finlays is providing clean cookstoves to agricultural workers, improving their health and saving each family £125 every year on fuel bills – the equivalent of 2 month’s salary for the average farm worker – money that is then available to spend on health and education. And the business benefits from a healthier, happier workforce, without which no supply chain is resilient.
We use innovative financial models, like our award winning Revolving Fund, to create new markets for life changing products, bringing long term employment opportunities and positive impacts – for example we are working with DFID to create a new market for clean burning ethanol fuel and cookers in Nairobi, that eliminate harmful indoor air pollution.
We work with partners to scale up impact. For example, we work with NGO Relief International to support entrepreneurs in Ghana, helping to provide the right training, tools and finance to scale up their manufacture and increase sales of quality Gyapa cookstoves. This provides employment to 350 manufacturers and supports a network of 500 retailers who benefit from selling the Gyapa stove.
And we help companies invest directly in projects that improve opportunities to work by providing missing infrastructure like solar energy or safe water. For example, our work with Jaguar Land Rover that is providing 300,000 school children in Bungoma, Kenya with safe water at school, enhancing their prospects of a good education and likelihood of employment whilst employing local members of the community to deliver the programme too
Tell us why you think creating employment is important. Share what you’re doing, and join the conversation on Twitter at #JobsForLife.
For cost effective ways to create jobs, enhance employment opportunities and improve life in the developing world contact Robert Stevens on +44(0)1865 591000 or email Robert.Stevens@climatecare.org
Robert Stevens is ClimateCare’s Head of Partnerships and oversees our client relationship team from the UK office in Oxford. He also manages our bespoke services team developing tailored sustainability programmes for businesses and orchestrating public/private partnerships to increase impact.