IKEA may be known for it's reasonably-priced, stylish shelving that makes you feel as if you're owed a medal for "success-in-home-building" after putting one of their pieces together but now it's also known for something else: supporting life-saving aid.
Today, CEOs of IKEA UK along with GlaxoSmithKline, Vodafone Group, HarperCollins and a host of other FTSE 100 companies declared their support to UK's Prime Minister David Cameron, applauding his "decision to stick to the UK's commitment to overseas aid to the developing world, despite the tough economic times." Cameron's announced 2013 budget includes 0.7% for aid to countries in need.
In a letter in the Financial Times, leaders of these major UK companies stand strong on behalf of the world's poorest people and the ability of businesses to help build healthy economies able to stand on their own:
We passionately believe in the power of the private sector to improve people’s lives, lift them from poverty and build more open societies. We would not be in business if we did not believe that to be true.
UK companies are doing this right around the world as part of their core business. This isn’t about corporate social responsibility; we know that developing countries will be major markets and important sources of supply in the future, in fact many already are. Developing countries become emerging economies and emerging economies become the engines of future global growth and prosperity.
The letter comes at a good time given a report, also released today, by Save the Children. Saving and Transforming Lives: How Aid Works for Children demonstrates how UK aid has helped to play a transformative role in helping to save millions of children lives - and how important it is in the continuing fight against poverty and disease.
There have been major successes when it comes to aid provided by the UK to developing countries:
- 51 million more children started primary school in the least developed countries. The UK is one of the most significant contributors to education in the developing world.
370 million children have been immunised in the world’s poorest countries through the Global
Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) programme averting more than 5.5 million deaths
since the programme began in 2000. The UK provided 20% of GAVI funding up until 2010; increasing to 34% after that.
But there's still more to be done. More than half a million children still die every year from malaria. 3 million children still die from diseases which could be prevented by a vaccine. These are not statistics; these are children's lives. While aid is not the only way to address these issues, the Save the Children report notes, it is still critical.