International Alert launches unique tool to sustain business and peace

"This resource pack will give every business an opportunity to change its sphere of influence.”
Ravi Fernando, UN Global Compact Sri Lanka Network Focal Point
CEO SLINTEC (Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology).

In partnership with the UN Global Compact, International Alert recently launched a unique new resource, Sustaining Business and Peace to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) make sense of Corporate Responsibility, sustainability, peacebuilding and human rights.

This resource is based on over six years’ work in Sri Lanka aimed to encourage and accompany a proactive role for the business community in promoting just socio-economic development and peacebuilding in the different regions of the country.

From our experience in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, Alert has found that much of the international business and conflict debate has so far focused on large multinational companies’ investments. Corporate Responsibility too is often seen as ‘for big companies’. The efforts and contributions of small and medium enterprises, frequently at the frontline of conflict, largely remain unrecognised and unsupported. However, it is often SMEs that play a crucial role in their own communities as engines of the local economy and job creation, but also through their civic leadership in addressing social challenges and tensions.

The resource pack takes SME readers through a simple three-step process, adapted to the business planning cycle: step one offers guidance to better analyse and understand the business context, especially the challenges, tensions and conflict dynamics present in the community, as well as the stakeholders’ needs and capacities, and any opportunities for partnerships. Step two helps companies to develop and implement a Corporate Responsibility strategy and plan, including guidance on how to ‘do no harm’. Step three then helps users to check whether their activities had the intended impact, to then learn from their efforts and improve them further.

This tool can be used not only by individual companies but also for training purposes and for collective SME efforts. It will assist SMEs by:

  • Strengthening their capacity to anticipate and manage risks that they and their communities face;
  • Enabling them to build better relationships with the individuals and groups in their communities;
  • Helping them understand how their own actions (or sometimes, inaction) can impact, for better or worse, on the context in which they operate; and
  • Facilitating the identification of opportunities for innovation and new partnerships.

The resource pack includes practical exercises and activities, as well as in-depth case studies and resources. While it is based on our and partners’ experiences in Sri Lanka, we feel this resource can be useful and adapted to any other business, regardless of its size, type and location, and will therefore be relevant and helpful for companies operating in any conflict-affected country around the world.

This publication received generous financial support from AusAid, the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program, and BMZ, Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

An electronic version of the pack is available on Alert’s website and hard copies can be ordered by writing to [email protected].