Press Releases Wednesday, 29 January 2003

Press Release: Wednesday, 29 January 2003: Worldaware Business Awards

A Little Can Make a Big Difference

The Worldaware Business Awards recognises the contribution commercial activity can make to sustainable growth in developing countries.

'Before you've finished your breakfast, you will have depended on half the world.' Forty years after Dr Martin Luther King's wake-up call the message of global interdependence is more important than ever. The benefits of commercial activity and sustainable development must be fair to all.

The Worldaware Business Awards held today, Wednesday 29 January, at the Royal Society, and presented by the Rt Hon Baroness Symons, Minister of State for International Trade and the Rt Hon Don McKinnon, Commonwealth Secretary General, recognise the contribution that commercial activity can make to the sustainable development in poorer countries throughout the world. Not just recognising the impact of fair trade, but also the interdependence which is so vital and the fact that a little can make a big difference.

The Awards are sponsored by companies and trade bodies who recognise the role that business can play in the development of poorer countries. Each of the seven categories addresses an area where private and public sector organisations can and have made a difference.

This year's winners vary from large companies such as The Co-operative Stores "Fairtrade" initiative and Ove Arup's renewable energy system to not-for-profit and charitable initiatives such as providing recycled bicycles to assist transportation in developing countries; providing qualified economists to fill gaps in local government expertise; and professional development programmes for teachers of English in Thailand.

Andrew Fraser, President of Worldaware, and a member of the judging panel said,

"This year's winners should be congratulated for the innovative and in some cases brave approach that they have taken in really making a difference. Many of the winners work on very small budgets and it is staggering that such projects have enormous impact on the lives of the people and the economies of developing countries. A little really can and does make a big difference."

Dr DeAnne Julius, formerly of the Bank of England and a member of the judging panel commenting said,

"These awards celebrate innovative ways that the private sector can make a real difference to economic development in poor countries. Projects like these, which work through markets, show an inspirational way forward."

The winners of the 2002 Worldaware Business Awards are

The Shell Award for Sustainable Development - The Co-operative Stores

The Co-op Fairtrade Campaign brings Fairtrade into the mainstream through a comprehensive development strategy aimed at tackling the two main reasons that Fairtrade has remained a niche market for the last decade or more - the lack of product range and availability, and low consumer awareness.

A selection of Fairtrade products has gone in to all the co-ops stores nationwide no matter how small, thus ensuring the availability of these products for the first time in all high street and community areas. The range of products available includes bananas, coffee, wine, mangoes and they have recently announced that the Co-op is switching its entire range of own-brand chocolate bars to fair trade in 2,400 stores nationwide. To support this and the further development of Fairtrade, the Co-op aims to increase consumer awareness through marketing campaigns including a TV advertisement dedicated to supporting Fairtrade.

The Trade Partners UK Award for Small Businesses in Africa - Art of Ventures Shompole Eco-Tourism Resort After 20 years work with wildlife and tourists in Kenya, Anthony Russell decided that the only way to achieve a fair and stable future for them was to arrange for local people to have a stake in, and later control of tourist lodges. Cash grants, schools and clinics are not enough because they do not acknowledge the locals' right to what happens on their land. They do not address the question of income from and ownership of the lodge, the one money spinner in a remote area. So he set up Art of Ventures to establish lodges jointly with local communities. He then spent three years earning the trust of the Maasai people of the Shompole ranch. They have joined him in his first venture, Maa O'Leng (Maasai for 'deeply of our people'), for which he raised $1.2million from investors. The lodge, with a sweeping view of the Rift Valley from a spur of the Nguruman Escarpment, opened in February 2002. The Shompole Maasai own 30 per cent, in view of their contribution of land, a spring and materials. The plan is that, by reinvesting their earnings, they will raise this to 80 per cent in 15 years.

The P&O Nedlloyd Award for Infrastructure - Riders for Health Transport Management System

Development in Africa is constrained without access to efficient motorised transport. Founded in 1989, with its first national transport system in Lesotho, Riders for Health has expanded across Africa employing 146 people.

Riders for Health's starting point was that you couldn't save a child unless you could reach the child. Children die of preventable diseases, 1 in 14 women die in childbirth and the entire population in rural Africa is vulnerable to disease because of poverty and lack of access to public services - such as health provision.

Motorcycles are ideal for getting about in rural Africa, but often break down or are crashed. Riders for Health has devised a system, the Transport Management System (TRM), operated by Africans that can keep bikes and other vehicles on the road. Its system for motorcycle training and maintenance contributes directly to the ability of health workers to carry out their work.

The British Council Award for the Effective Transfer of English Language Skills - Thailand TESOL

Thailand TESOL was formed in 1980 as a Thai affiliate of the Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages to provide a professional development programme for teachers of English in Thailand. Since then, ThaiTESOL has helped 25,000 teachers to teach English in a more practical and communicative way. It runs workshops, conferences, a newsletter, a research bulletin. It provides programmes for DLTV, Thailand's Distance Education via Satellite channel. DLTV, available to 3,000 schools, aims to give pupils in remote areas the same opportunities as those in Bangkok. With the same aim, teachers outside Bangkok have formed ThaiTESOL groups that run local workshops. ThaiTESOL helps teachers in other countries, including Sri Lanka, Laos and Vietnam.

The DTI Award for Capacity Building in the Commonwealth - The Overseas Development Institute Fellowship Scheme

The ODI is a research institute concerned with strategies to help the world's poor become richer. It began its fellowship scheme with the British government's help in 1963. The scheme provides high-calibre staff at junior professional level.

Civil services need to be strengthened if governments are to fight poverty effectively. Most fellows are concerned with this in some degree. The plight of the public service in Africa, depleted by pay freezes and Aids, makes their work there crucial. The Malawi government service has about 50 per cent vacancies.

There are at present a record 56 fellows (over half of them women) in 19 Commonwealth developing countries, plus Rwanda. Overseas governments pay the local rate for the job, which is often only a few hundred pounds a month, and ODI makes this up to a modest salary. The total numbers who have served in the scheme is now approaching 600 and include Britain's current Cabinet Secretary and the Head of DFID itself.

The Worldaware Award for Not-for-Profit Organisations - Pedals for Progress

Pedals for Progress has perfected a system for collecting unwanted bicycles on the eastern seaboard of the United States and sending them to organisations worldwide which can repair and sell them, well below the cost of a new bike from China or India. The bike will also be lighter and higher quality.

It all began when a builder from New Jersey called David Schweidenback noticed that just about everyone in the town of Sucua, Ecuador, where he was a Peace Corps volunteer, had to walk; but the most successful local citizen, a carpenter, rode a bicycle - and that contributed to his success. In New Jersey years later David came across used and unwanted bicycles on their way to the tip. He mobilised local citizens to collect bicycles and sent them to poor people in Nicaragua.

PfP also gets bikes from refuse collectors, and it gets parts from manufacturers. It assembles container loads of bikes and parts and sends them (this year) to Barbados, Colombia, Eritrea, El Salvador, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Moldova, Nicaragua, Panama and Pakistan. The cost works out at 28-30 dollars a bike. Over 60,000 have been sent.

The Worldaware Award for Innovation - Ove Arup

Ove Arup have developed a wind turbine able to rival electricity as a power source for ventilation. The cost of installing the Vawtex (vertical axis wind turbine extractor) is similar to that for conventional ventilation. But it is much less noisy, has no fuel cost and causes no pollution.

Interest is growing in ventilation without electricity. In some conditions, a building can cool and ventilate itself. Hot air rises in a room and, as it leaves at the top, draws in cool air at the bottom. This effect can be enhanced with a cowl mounted on the building. But even with a cowl it lacks power.

The solution was a wind turbine rotating on a vertical axis and driving a fan. Most wind turbines, for pumping water or generating power, rotate on a horizontal axis like a windmill; but they are usually sited in open country. They cannot easily follow the constantly changing wind directions caused by the buildings in a city. A turbine on a vertical axis, however, can. In addition, the Vawtex is designed to take advantage of the wind's lift effect, which takes an aircraft off the ground. This additional force enables it to rotate three times as fast as if pushed by windspeed alone.

Vawtexes have been installed at Africa University on the Mozambique border and at the Mediterranean Shipping Co's Zimbabwean HQ. In March, eight are due to be installed at the Centre for Sustainable Construction in Belgium. Arup believes the international market for such devices could easily number thousands per year.

Special Commendations

Two organisations received special commendations: The Aga Khan University in Pakistan for its contribution to social development in developing countries and GVM in India for spreading the knowledge and use of English language.

Photographs and video material on the winning projects are available on request.

For more information on the winning projects or the Awards themselves please contact: Helen Triggs on 020 7603 8573, m: 07712 191568 or Sally Canty on 023 8028 3255, m: 07775 746611.

Notes to Editors

Worldaware is a UK charity, established over 30 years ago with the aim is to promote the widest understanding of global development issues, their importance and the interdependence of the modern world, particularly amongst young people and the wider business community. The Business Awards were established 14 years ago and have recognised diverse businesses from the Body Shop in the UK to local cooperatives in developing countries.