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Workshop on Private Sector Engagement and Oxfam in Partnership with CSR ASIA

June 2nd, 2014 by Posted in Resilience

Arie Schuurmans, Associate Country Director

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In May, I attended along with Oxfam Bangladesh Staff and a partner representative a training workshop on private sector engagement in Bangkok. The private sector approach has been integrated in Oxfam’s strategic plan for over ten years and numerous strategies have been devised in order to do so be it through partnerships, fundraising or advocacy.

The training session provided us a much greater understanding of effective methods which, if implemented, could further private sector engagement, key success factors and knowledge on tools to promote responsible business practices – mainly focusing upon the financial bank and agricultural sector.

Joygun Islam with chillies ready for market. Photo: Abir Abdullah/Oxfam

Joygun Islam with chillies ready for market. Photo: Abir Abdullah/Oxfam

Towards the end of the workshop, we worked on the Oxfam Bangladesh country strategy. This included value chain analysis on products such as chili and maize under the agribusiness sector in which it was noted numerous private companies such as Square Consumer Products, PRAN Agro and Rangpur Dairy are engaged already in private sector development programmes whilst a flood insurance project is currently being piloted in flood prone char areas in Sirajgonj district with Progati Insurance Company has been well received. In the tax sector, partners are implementing budget monitoring and advocacy for inclusive budgeting and quality services.

The humanitarian and financial sector will next be priority under private sector development programme and it was agreed steps such as advocacy with private sector for CSR and value chain analysis on financial sector for identification of intervention should be implemented in Bangladesh.

Oxfam Bangladesh needs to develop new approach of engagement with the private sector and country strategy.  The pros i.e. creation of jobs, enhancement of skills/ access to technology, promotion of human rights as well as environmental protection in operations and cons i.e. issues arising from employment rights abuses and repatriation of profit by international businesses –  must be equally considered.

 More work must be done by Oxfam Bangladesh to engage with the private sector. We must talk persuasively to the private sector and be able to explain why and how Oxfam works with this sector without hesitation.

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