Drawing upon leadership perspectives from Diageo, IBM, Marks and Spencer, Coca-Cola , and Unilever, this discussion paper demonstrates the diverse ways in which multinational companies are striving to create business value and development impact in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector. The paper is informed by a review of more than 20 company initiatives in total, seen to fall within three broad categories: increasing operational and agricultural water use efficiency; expanding consumer access to WASH; and improving water resources management at the watershed level.
Four core observations are made: the WASH sector is a source of business value and development impact that reaches across industries; the rationale for companies to take action is usually multidimensional; financial returns vary and can be difficult to quantify; other stakeholders play key roles.
Given the potential for simultaneous business value creation and development impact offered by the WASH sector, WSUP and Business Fights Poverty would like to see the types of initiative included in this paper succeed at scale and inspire widespread replication. We conclude by outlining four priority areas that will be key to making this happen: results measurement, collaboration, cost-sharing and intrapreneurship.
Jenkins, B.; Modak, N. Creating business value and development impact in the WASH sector. WSUP, (2015) 16 pp.