In 2017, the Connecting Business initiative (CBi) Secretariat reflected on what had happened since the World Humanitarian Summit where the initiative was launched. CBi supported networks were providing business continuity trainings to their members, working alongside development actors to build societal resilience and supporting humanitarian organizations in responding to crises. Focus had overwhelmingly been on natural hazards, but networks started to ask us for support also in manmade disasters contexts.
While searching for materials that could help CBi networks understand and address these contexts, it quickly became evident that such resources were in short supply. In fact, the whole topic of collective private sector engagement in complex emergencies seemed un(der)explored. There were a number of positive examples of how individual companies had provided services to displaced populations and advocated for policy changes, but there was nothing on the role of business associations, chambers of commerce and other private sector networks. The importance of the local private sector, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular, was also overlooked.
In an effort to address the knowledge gap and build a base for increased private sector action, CBi initiated a project to support business networks. Over the course of the past two years, three main outputs were produced with funding from European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).
Together with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), CBi developed a resource entitled Engaging companies in manmade disasters – a guidance toolkit for private sector networks. It is available on the CBi website in English, French and Spanish, and also exists as an e-learning course. The guidance toolkit provides a framework and practical tips for private sector networks to translate manmade disaster contexts into actionable engagement strategies that support the broader efforts of governments and the humanitarian community.
- Case studies were also developed to highlight the initial lessons learnt from the three pilot countries of Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya and Turkey. The CBi networks in these countries conducted landscape assessments and organized workshops to build the base for private sector engagement in their specific manmade disaster contexts.
- CBi online portal was strengthen and the resource library now contains close to 60 documents relevant to manmade disasters, with new ones being added regularly.
We recognize that we are still just at the beginning of the journey. Phase I of our project has now been completed, but companies need more support. CBi is therefore committed to continuing work in this area in 2020 and beyond. Stay tuned, there is more to come.