Oxfam's work with the private sector

Fighting poverty, empowering women and improving lives

Photo: Aurelie Marrier d'Unienville/Oxfam

Our vision:

Oxfam is working towards a future where businesses play a leading role in overcoming poverty, respecting human rights and empowering women. With their global supply chains, extensive resources, insights and influence, companies can make a real difference to the fight against poverty. That’s why Oxfam works across the private sector, from SMEs to global companies, encouraging business to contribute to a fair, sustainable economy that benefits everyone.

Why we work with the private sector:

We want to harness the power of business as a force for good. We encourage companies to take action to respect human rights in line with international standards and guidelines and empower women in their supply chains. More than this, our strong ability to address the root causes of poverty enables us to advise businesses on transforming their business models to improve lives and livelihoods across whole sectors.

Where people are unable to access their fundamental rights or business practices are unintentionally harming the most vulnerable, Oxfam campaigns for change. We collaborate with others to create lasting solutions, and advocate for more progressive policies to help guide businesses towards more responsible, inclusive practices.

Oxfam works with the private sector to:

Promote human rights in global supply chains

We campaign, advocate, advise and collaborate with companies on their employment and procurement practices, in order to secure human rights, decent work and sustainable livelihoods for workers in global supply chains.

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Improving livelihoods for smallholder farmers

We support smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods, and access sufficient, nourishing food for their families. We help them adopt sustainable practices, building resilience in the face of the increasing impacts of climate change, as well as promoting gender equality and decent work.

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Empowering women to improve their livelihoods

We work with SMEs and multinationals to address barriers to women’s economic empowerment, including lack of access to markets or skills, and stereotypes and norms that exclude women.

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Promoting sustainable fashion

We promote re-use and recycling by innovating and working with companies to extend the life of used clothing, closing the loop on clothing waste while raising funds to end poverty.

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Doing business differently

We are leading the charge towards the promotion and adoption of fair, sustainable business models that benefit everyone, and campaigning for an end to tax systems that promote inequality.

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Supporting humanitarian emergencies

Our emergency corporate partners help make it possible for us to respond immediately, reaching more people and making the difference between life and death in a humanitarian disaster.

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Make social purpose count

Oxfam works with businesses including Waterstones, M&S and Unilever to create authentic, purpose-led brand campaigns that challenge existing ways of thinking and make a difference for people living in poverty.

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Oxfam Business Advisory Service

The Oxfam Business Advisory Service (OBAS) provides companies with advice on key issues in their sustainability strategies to create more positive business practises, focused on overcoming poverty, respecting human rights and empowering women.

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How we work with the private sector:

Oxfam works with actors across the private sector, from SMEs to multinational corporations, encouraging companies to contribute to a fair, sustainable economy that benefits everyone.

Firstly, we seek to shift the role of business in society. We want to see a wholesale transformation of ‘business as usual’, with new, equitable business models designed from the outset to share power and value fairly with stakeholders and maximise positive impacts for people. Secondly, we work with companies across their value chains to protect people’s human rights, improve smallholders’ and workers’ livelihoods, and promote women’s economic empowerment.

Oxfam’s private sector work supports many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, we’re contributing to eliminating poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality and decent work, achieving clean water and sanitation for all, and reducing inequalities.

We also sit on the sustainability advisory boards of organisations including Marks & Spencer and Unilever. Our teams’ advice is informed by Oxfam’s extensive experience of research, advocacy and programme delivery. Our experience of working with partners in more than 90 countries enables us to work at scale for greater impact.

To find out more about our work, contact us here:

Email: privatesector@oxfam.org.uk

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