Private Sector Engagement in Humanitarian Response

Release Date: 
Thursday, February 19, 2015
A Coca-Cola kiosk in Tanzania. In partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Coca-Cola has helped Tanzania's Ministry of Health improve its supply chain so that medicines can reach remote parts of the country, the way soft drinks do. Public-private partnerships are on the rise in development and humanitarian work  © Charlotte Nordahl/Flickr

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As humanitarian leaders united in Davos this year at the World Economic Forum, one message was clear: the humanitarian system is strained, and increased collaboration with the private sector is crucial for enhancing capacity to respond to the protracted, complex crises currently confronting the humanitarian sector.

The humanitarian and private sectors differ in many crucial aspects – mission, principles, procedures, among others  – but the private sector is already contributing to humanitarian operations in a variety of ways. Beyond the evolving field of corporate social responsibility (CSR), private businesses engage in humanitarian action as donors, suppliers, service providers, consultants, and implementing partners. Furthermore, private businesses interact directly with vulnerable populations, whether through cash transfer or voucher programs, direct sales to refugee populations, or supporting refugee-run enterprises.

Through conversations with experts and practitioners, this podcast will explore the role of the private sector in humanitarian response, and how collaboration with the private sector can enhance humanitarian protection.

Key questions for discussion include:

  • What opportunities exist for collaboration between the humanitarian and private sectors?
  • What factors enhance or impede effective humanitarian-private sector collaboration?
  • How have current models of private-public partnerships shaped strategies for collaboration?
  • What incentives do businesses have to support humanitarian operations?

Expert Commentators:

  • Jim Drummond – Independent consultant, Humanitarian Futures Programme, King’s College London
  • David Stanton – Director General, TradeMark East Africa, Kenya
  • Allan Waititu – Director, Special Projects, Equity Bank Ltd., Kenya 
  • Steven Zyck – Research Fellow, Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)


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