The Icelandic Foreign Ministry has launched a project to encourage cooperation between Icelandic companies and companies in developing countries. The aim is to create a venue for public and private enterprises which creates business opportunities and sets goals for development, Morgunbladid reported.
Ragna Sara Jónsdóttir is the project manager of Nordic Business Outreach which is a co operational project between the Foreign Ministry and the United Nations Development Program UNDP. The project is based on similar ventures undertaken in Norway and Denmark where many Scandinavian companies have cooperated with the UNDP.
“When goals for development and business opportunities go hand in hand in cooperation everyone involved gains,” said Jónsdóttir. The project is not based on cash handouts from companies but utilizes knowledge and experience of private enterprise. A good example of this, according to Jónsdóttir, is the distribution of HIV medication to desolate areas in Africa by the Coca Cola company which has one of the most sophisticated and advanced distribution systems in the hemisphere, better than any government could provide for.
Jónsdóttir said that surveys have shown that employees of companies involved in such projects were very positive as they felt good knowing that they are working for the benefit of other people. She added that these ideas had been positively met by directors of Icelandic companies which were increasingly socially responsible.
“Icelandic companies are increasingly starting to think about social responsibility. They have become more internationalized in the past five years and thus there is need for more discussion,” Jónsdóttir said.