Unitus on Huffington Post

December 11, 2009 Posted by Media Exposure

Unitus on Huffington Post

Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Global Community Affairs at Microsoft Corporation, shares his impressions of the first annual Global Washingtonconference on Huffington Post. Held on December 7, the conference featured Nick Kristof of the New York Times and Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley of the Global Partnerships Initiative at the U.S. Department of State. Unitus was a sponsor of the event which had over 300 attendees from private and nongovernmental sectors across Washington State.

From the post, Global Development From the “Other Washington”,by Akhtar Badshah:

“. . .One of the most interesting aspects of the conference was how this work crosses the academic, private and nongovernmental sectors. For example the University of Washington has the highest number of students that serve in the Peace Corps, and many of the volunteers return to live in this area, bringing their experiences with them and continuing to contribute to global development issues. From the private sector, Kirkland, WA based Costco provided incredible insight into their commitment and approach to creating a responsible supply chain. The company procures the majority of cashews that are grown in the world. They believe that sustainable farming practices are essential to make sure that they get the best crop, so they invest significant time and resources in working with producers in Africa and elsewhere to ensure that there is a direct distribution channel, helping farmers get the best price.

On the nongovernmental front, Global Partnerships, Unitus and Village Reach shared their approach to developing new business models that can help them scale efforts to deliver skills in development markets. Global Partnerships is focused on new financing models which includes a combination of philanthropic and investment funds to help develop the reach of microfinance institutions in Central America. Unitus, another organization based in Seattle, is working on a similar approach focused on India and Africa. Village Reach is taking an innovative approach to the challenge of delivering medicine to isolated communities in developing markets. They are developing local entrepreneurs who can supply propane gas so that Village Reach can safely distribute much needed medicine and drugs to remote locations in countries such as Mozambique. The propane is needed to refrigerate medicines in a country where 80% of the population lives off the grid.

During his keynote, Kristof focused on women and girls and why empowering them is key to sustainable development, a big focus of his latest book, co-authored with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, called Half the Sky. He contends that “the greatest unexploited resource most countries have is their female population.””

> Read the full story on Huffington Post.