Researchers Explore Ways Canadian Companies Can Sustainably Partner with Developing Countries

Article ID: 597890

Released: 8-Jan-2013 4:00 PM EST

Source Newsroom: Ryerson University

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The Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University and TFO Canada team up to develop best practices for Canadian retailers

Newswise — TORONTO/OTTAWA Jan 8, 2013 --- How can Canadian companies develop stronger economic ties with developing countries while promoting sustainable development and reducing poverty in those regions?

That is the heart of an innovative research project supported by Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) and the Ryerson Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility.

The six-month project involves an examination of a number of initiatives worldwide where international retailers and manufacturers partnered with international development institutions to advance sustainable economic development and reduce poverty.

There is growing recognition of the value of “trade, not aid“ to address developing country’s social and environmental issues, says Kernaghan Webb, director of TRSM’s Institute of the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility and a professor in TRSM’s Department of Law and Business.

“Retailers are increasingly addressing the environmental and social impacts of their supply-chain as part of their corporate social responsibility policies, thus creating opportunities for partnerships with developing country producers,” says Webb. “Research has revealed a number of innovative partnerships that have enhanced the economic livelihood of developing country partners, reduced environmental impacts and improved the health and welfare of communities.”

Researchers are examining 30 development projects or initiatives that feature this type of private sector partnership in developing countries such as Malawi, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. While most are financed by the donor community, many are initiated and in some cases fully financed by the multinational actors involved. Nearly all of the projects also involve a development intermediary, typically a local or international non-government organization who provides technical assistance for the producer communities in the developing country.

“The private sector – with their innovation, expertise and financial resources – has an important role to play in development, be it through core business activities or corporate social responsibility efforts,” says the Honourable Julian Fantino, Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation. ”To reach our development objectives and to reduce global poverty, development efforts must capitalize on all available resources and players.”

The six month research project was led by TFO Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering trade for developing countries, with funds from the Canadian International Development Agency, and done in collaboration with the North-South Institute.

“So far, our preliminary research has found over two dozen examples of large retailers and other multinational firms getting directly involved in international development projects that support their overseas suppliers,” says Brian Mitchell, executive director of TFO Canada. “Corporate social responsibility is all about doing the right thing in decision making and action, while making a profit.”

Mitchell says in the next phase of this project, researchers will share best practices and challenges from these projects (most of which are with European and American firms) with the Canadian private sector and the Canadian international development community.

A roundtable discussion will be held by Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management early this year to share the results of the research project with Canadian industry leaders in retailing and importing.

About TFO CanadaTFO Canada ( is a non-profit organization established by the Canadian government in 1980, and which now operates as a non-government organization with funding from CIDA and other sources, to help developing country exporters access the Canadian import market. TFO Canada also undertakes a variety of trade-related capacity building projects for developing country businesses and trade support institutions in several countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America.

About the Ryerson Institute for the Study of Corporate Social ResponsibilityThe Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is located in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. The Institute seeks to advance CSR research, recognizing that increasingly, CSR issues are drivers for change in the business community. The goal of the Institute is to promote the Institute and Ryerson University as a centre of excellence in research and peer-reviewed publications on CSR issues, to increase research and understanding on these issues and thereby also increase research productivity in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, and to develop practical solutions. For further information, visit:

About Ryerson UniversityRyerson University is Canada's leader in innovative, career-oriented education and a university clearly on the move. With a mission to serve societal need, and a long-standing commitment to engaging its community, Ryerson offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distinctly urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 30,000 students, including 2,300 master's and PhD students, nearly 2,700 faculty and staff, and more than 140,000 alumni worldwide. Research at Ryerson is on a trajectory of success and growth: externally funded research has doubled in the past four years. The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada's leading provider of university-based adult education. For more information, visit

About Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)CIDA is Canada's lead agency for development assistance. CIDA's aim is to manage Canada's support and resources effectively and accountably to achieve meaningful, sustainable results. CIDA’s focus is also to engage in policy development in Canada and internationally, enabling Canada’s international development effort to realize its objectives. For more information, visit


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