Engaging Businesses in Local Efforts to Reduce Poverty (Part 1)

Resource Type: Audio Seminar || Speaker: John Weiser
John Weiser

The 1st of a four-part series, John Weiser considers effective tactics for leveraging business and markets, creating employment opportunities and recognizing the realities faced by hourly wage workers.


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All across Canada, communities are creating multi-sector collaborations or networks that develop long-term, comprehensive approaches to reducing poverty. 

The local business community is a natural partner in this effort:

  • As Community Citizens: businesses can contribute financial, technical and human resources to community initiatives (e.g. community volunteers, grants to poverty reduction projects, joint marketing campaigns). 
  • As Employers: businesses can train and hire unemployed or underemployed workers, pay good wages, and offer supplementary employment benefits (e.g. child care, flexible work schedules). 
  • As Purchasers: businesses can buy goods and services from local enterprises that employ unemployed or underemployed workers (e.g. subcontract to a community training enterprise). 
  • As Producers: businesses can strive to ensure they provide quality services for low-income communities (e.g. financial services, housing, transportation).

In order to tap into the enormous potential of the private sector to significantly reduce poverty, it is necessary to develop a better understanding of how to build the case for business involvement and the specific strategies and techniques for engaging and sustaining businesses in poverty reduction work over the long term.

This podcast introduces a general framework for understanding why businesses might be involved in local efforts to reduce poverty and explores a step-by-step framework to guide local networks to engage the business community in their work.

Highlights include:

  • The drivers for encouraging businesses to get involved in local efforts to reduce poverty
  • The six options for business involvement in reducing poverty and the business case for each option
  • Five steps in the process of engaging and sustaining business involvement in reducing poverty
  • Understanding the variety of different local businesses (publicly traded versus shared, small to large, etc.) and how that affects their approach to local efforts to reducing poverty.
  • The session features a conversation with John Weiser, co-founder of Brody • Weiser • Burns , a leading thinker and facilitator of corporate involvement in expanding opportunities for low income communities, and the lead author of the Ford Foundation’s groundbreaking new report, Part of the Solution: Leveraging Business and Markets for Low-Income People

Resources from the Seminar:




Related Links & Resources:

Win-Win Partners – a website that promotes strategies for corporations to improve their business performance and improve the lives of low income groups and communities.

Canadian Business for Social Responsibility – a website for a non-profit, business-led national organization of Canadian companies that have made a commitment to operate in a socially, environmentally and financially responsible manner.

The Center for Corporate Citizenship – a website that promotes – and explores in depth – the rationale and mechanics of corporate involvement in community issues.

Working with the Business Sector – an excellent resource prepared by Grantcraft group that explores how to partner with businesses on community issues.

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