Nine million to benefit from new business pact to fight poverty

21 Sep 2011

New York – Nine million poor people in Africa, Asia and Latin America will have access to clean energy sources and improved health care through commitments made today by three companies to Business Call to Action, a global initiative to promote poverty reduction and sustainable social and economic development.

Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of the companies - Nuru Energy, Dimagi and Por ti, Familia - made their commitments on Wednesday during a meeting with top corporate leaders to discuss how the private sector can create more business opportunities for encouraging pro-poor strategies and practices.

Nuru Energy, currently with offices in the Netherlands and Rwanda, committed to making its portable, rechargeable light-emitting diode (LED) devices available to up to 1.8 million rural households in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, helping lower energy costs by up to 85 percent and reducing dependency on kerosene, an inefficient, polluting, costly and unsafe energy source.

The lights are distributed and recharged by Nuru’s PowerCycle, which is a generator that recharges lights in 20 minutes at small-scale village franchises, helping boost entrepreneurship in rural communities. The initiative was piloted in Rwanda where Nuru set up a network of 70 entrepreneurs and sold 10,000 lights benefiting an estimated 50,000 people. The company hopes to expand its entrepreneur network to 10,000 by 2016.

“We have a mission to increase energy access in base of pyramid markets and in particular remote areas that the grid will likely never touch,” said Nuru Energy CEO Sameer Hajee.

In India, where up to 70 percent of the rural population lacks access to basic health services, US-based technology firm Dimagi will promote access to healthcare for seven million people in rural areas over the next three years through mobile phone based applications.

Available through rural health facilities, Dimagi’s phone application, CommCare, will provide 70,000 community health workers in areas lacking basic medical care with patient information and the ability to monitor at-risk patients.

“We developed CommCare to scale up the health impacts [of] community health programmes,” says Dimagi CEO Jonathan Jackson. “We’ve been working in this field for a long time, and haven’t seen anything with the potential that CommCare has to scale up the effective delivery of life saving interventions.”

In Peru, where between 39 and 49 percent of the people suffering from diseases seek health care, Por ti, Familia – a small chain of health centres – committed to provide up to 270,000 of the country’s urban poor with access to affordable, high-quality health care by 2015.

Por ti, Familia will address this gap by opening up 100 new health centres around Lima that provide low-income patients with primary health services, pediatric care, gynecological care and preventive oncology as well as on-site laboratory testing, medical imaging diagnostics and a pharmacy with fees up to 67 percent less than private hospitals and equivalent to the fees charged at public hospitals.

“Scaling up our healthcare network while conducting community outreach programs will help to bridge the enormous gap between those that can afford quality care and those that cannot in Peru,” said Por ti Familia CEO Enrique Coronado. “Our goal is to rapidly expand our low-cost model to ensure that five percent of urban Peruvians gain access to affordable, quality care.”

“The private sector is a strong partner in our collective drive to reduce poverty and achieve inclusive growth,” said Sigrid Kaag, Assistant Secretary-General and Assistant Administrator, UN Development Programme (UNDP). “Continued commitments and innovative partnerships are key!”

Contact Information

Nuru Energy: Jacqueline Hui, jhui@nurulight.com, +31 624985808

Dimagi: Carter Powers, cpowers@dimagi.com, +617 580 3100

Por ti, Familia: Enrique Coronado, enrique.coronado@portifamilia.com, +51 981061234, +5115400933 ext. 20

BCtA: Lorin Kavanaugh-Ulku, lorin@businesscalltoaction.org, Tel: +1 703-587-3219