Stop and Smell the Roses

We are often told to stop and smell the roses; to take a moment to recognize the beauty and bounty of life. At last week’s Initiative for Global Development (IGD) 2009 National Summit, I literally stopped to smell the roses on my lunch table and was inspired to learn more about the supply chain that brought them here.

The summit, co-chaired by former US Secretaries of State Madeleine K. Albright and Colin L. Powell, convened corporate leaders, US policy makers, development experts, and some of the most prominent African business leaders to set an action agenda going forward and call on the Obama administration to champion better policies and increase funding for programs that improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. The summit also provided a unique opportunity for both American and African business leaders to detail their strategies for reducing global poverty.

ONE’s CEO, David Lane, ONE Senior Director for Outreach, Dayna Cade, and I had the opportunity to learn firsthand about the great work of US and African businesses in the fight to help those that live on less than a dollar a day.

I found the individual stories of African business leaders to be one of the most interesting parts of the conference. IGD along with knowledge partner Dalberg Global Development Advisors developed Frontier 100, a network connecting US CEO’s with powerful business leaders in developing world. I was truly inspired by Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi, who oversees Karuturi Global Ltd. of Ethiopia, the largest rose producer in the world. In an effort to better the lives of his incredible employees and community, Mr. Karuturi provides free primary and secondary schooling for the children of all 5,000+ employees, a full-scale health center with surgeons, ARV medication, and maternal health facilities, and living conditions with electricity and clean water. This past year, every student finished secondary school and over 70% went on to college. Like many of the amazing African business leaders I met yesterday, Mr. Karuturi believes that he and his employees work together to alleviate poverty and preventable disease.

You can learn more about IGD and explore the great work of the other Frontier 100 members here.

-Adrienne Sullivan