Unilever and Solidaridad have announced a new partnership to improve the lives of one million people in Unilever’s extended supply chains.
As part of this new partnership agreement, both parties will raise a mix of public and private grants, credit and investments to finance the smallholder farmer initiatives. They also will share the cost of three full time employees to execute the joint program.
This builds on Unilever’s and Solidaridad’s history of creating sustainable supply chains that already engage more than 150,000 smallholder farmers and workers in India, Mexico and Colombia.
Unilever and Solidaridad will engage suppliers and support them to address current and future business challenges, including access to resources and markets. The program will also analyze and address gender issues in each project, as well as provide access to training on agriculture, finance, health and hygiene, and nutrition.
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The partnership is the latest manifestation of Unilever’s Responsible Sourcing Policy, which defines a ‘continuous improvement ladder’ to help suppliers move from a base level of “do no harm” to “good practice” and ultimately up to “best practice”. It also now has new areas of coverage such as women’s rights, land rights and enhanced grievance mechanisms.
In 2013, Unilever announced that all of the palm oil it buys globally will be traceable to known sources by the end of 2014. The company purchases roughly 1.5 million tons of palm oil and its derivatives annually, which represents about 3 percent of the world’s total production, for use in products such as margarine, ice cream, soap and shampoo.
Innovation is one of the surest ways to a more sustainable supply chain, and overall business. In recognition of this, Unilever earlier this year announced the launch of The Unilever Foundry, a platform that enables innovative startups to partner with Unilever. The Foundry allows its global brands to experiment with and pilot new technologies more efficiently, effectively and speedily. It also provides startups and entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop and work on global projects, access mentoring from marketing professionals, and tap into a new source of funding through Unilever Ventures.