In an effort to advance the goals outlined in its Sustainable Living Plan, in which it aims to positively impact the lives of 5.5 million people by 2020, consumer goods giant Unilever has announced a new partnership with the Better Than Cash Alliance.
By teaming up with the UN-based organization, Unilever has committed to transition away from cash throughout its value chain and instead embrace digital finance. The move, which marks a significant step forward towards integrating social benefits into business strategy, will allow Unilever to advance transparency and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), increase income for farmers, retailers and workers across the value chain and generate new economic opportunities for women and smallholder farmers.
Earlier this year, the Better Than Cash Alliance released a case study detailing how agriculture nonprofit One Acre Fund and Citi Inclusive Finance have cut payment losses and collections costs by over 80 percent for smallholder farmers in Kenya by digitizing loan repayments. The move significantly improved transparency and efficiency, thereby driving economic opportunity and financial inclusion for thousands of farmers and their families. Companies with considerable reach such as Unilever and other private sector members H&M, the Coca-Cola Company and Grupo Bimbo are also expected to achieve similar results and their participation with the organization could inspire a response from across industries.
“Through our suppliers, we source from more than 1.5 million smallholder famers and we use the same number of small-scale retailers to sell our products. Digital payments provide us with the opportunity to advance transparency and create economic opportunities for our farmers and retailers. This is exactly the type of transformative change needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and why we are joining the Better Than Cash Alliance,” said Jeff Seabright, Chief Sustainability Officer at Unilever.
The Better Than Cash Alliance announced Unilever’s membership was announced at the Goalkeepers 2017 event hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The event recognizes leaders and influencers making progress toward achieving the SDGs. This year, the Better Than Cash Alliance is featured as a Goalkeeper accelerator for its work advancing Digital Financial Inclusion for All. The Alliance brings together over 60 governments, companies and international organizations around a common agenda for action to create a digital economy where everyone can make and receive payments digitally.