Tuesday July 5, 2005
Veteran corporate financier Ken Costa, of investment bankers UBS, has emerged as the leader of an ad hoc group of financiers and business leaders looking to support the Make Poverty History campaign. A list of high profile names – ranging from retailer Philip Green to the financial public relations consultant Roland Rudd – have begun to appear in a series of newspaper advertisements, declaring support to reduce African poverty.
"I’ve been coordinating this particular campaign," Mr Costa confirmed yesterday. "We have 600 names so far and we’ll hand them to the G8 leaders on Wednesday."
The adverts, which appeared in yesterday’s Guardian and a number of papers over the weekend, declared: "We support the overall aims of those who call on G8 leaders this year to bring an end to extreme poverty and look forward to seeing a breakthrough for Africa on the issues of trade, aid and debt.
"We recognise the complexities of the challenge in hand, but commit ourselves to asking our leaders to make positive and practical steps forward to help lift millions out of extreme poverty."
Signatories include Sir Richard Branson, Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising group WPP, and Bryan Sanderson, chairman of Standard Chartered bank.
"The idea came from the Davos Conference at the World Economic Forum where many of us thought that the business community needed to do something. Business leaders are prepared to recognise it’s a moral issue whether we should trade in Africa. We do not agree with every issue in the Make History Poverty campaign, which is why this is an independent input," Mr Costa said.
"The reason for setting this up is because business leaders may be hard headed, but we’re not hard hearted. We believe it’s good to join this campaign but with an independent contribution. The real work starts on Thursday," he added.
A spokesperson for the Make Poverty History campaign welcomed the move.
"It’s good to see the business community taking this initiative, taking the issues of the developing world seriously.
"It would be great for them to also encourage their international colleagues to give the same message to the leaders of the G8."
John Bryant Commentary – Let me know what you think…