'AFRICA WORKS' with Benetton.

Monday, May 12, 2008

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Benetton perhaps is one brand which is known for its hard hitting and sometimes politically incorrect campaigns than the stuff it sells. Also known for its global activism, Benetton recently launched a financing initiative created to support Birima, a micro credit organization founded by renowned Senegalese musician, Youssou N’ Dour. (Honestly speaking, I had never heard this musician’s name before.)

Contrary to the belief that fashion and cause don’t traditionally go together, Benetton has contributed $ 1.5 million as direct funding and will also make certain that the scheme and the initiative get noticed worldwide through a wonderful media campaign that features brilliantly expressive images. (http://www.benetton.com/africaworks/)

Since majority of Africa lives on less than one dollar a day, micro credit is the best way to enable people who live in the base of the pyramid to invest in their skills and talents. Microcredit organizations give them small loans which is otherwise be denied by larger financial institutions and banks. By financing what are deemed unfeasible business like tailor, craftsmen, street side vendor, farmer, fishermen, Africa works (Name of the initiative) makes clear that it is not a charitable scheme, even if it is based on optimism for the future.

Alessandro Benetton, Executive Deputy Chairman of Benetton Group explains the conviction with which Benetton has backed the project: "We chose to support and promote this important project because, unlike traditional acts of solidarity, it offers tangible support to small local entrepreneurs through the efficient use of micro-credit. Precisely because it is based on entrepreneurial talent, hard work, optimism and interest for the future, this project effectively promotes the new face of Africa."

This initiative should inspire India Inc, which still thinks CSR is all about fund raising, donating, cleaning slums, which end of the day, gives nothing beyond a little PR to the company and false hopes to the people. More and more micro credit organizations backed by the large corporate not only helps eradicate unemployment problem, but also helps nation to enhance its wealth and talent .Helping people fish is always a better way than giving them fish everyday.