Top Stories

July 16, 2012

Supply Chain

John Lewis boosts cotton farm projects over supply worries

The UK department store John Lewis is aiming to invest at least £500,000 through its charitable foundation over the next three years in projects that will boost sustainability within its supply chain, as well as education and employment projects. The move comes as the retail industry recognises the need to support small-scale cotton farmers to ensure security of supply, after a 154% rise in prices last year. John Lewis is working with the social enterprise Cotton Connect to map its supply chain and identify areas where it could work with cotton farmers. Its first major project is a training programme in Gujerat, India, which aims to help 1,500 small-scale farmers improve the way they grow cotton. "Sustainability is a real issue in cotton," said Sean Allam, head of product sourcing at John Lewis. "It is an important raw material for us and we are trying to learn with this project how to connect our supply chain to a sustainable cotton source." (The Telegraph)

International Development

African governments and CEOs commit to female empowerment

Creating better opportunities for women is key to Africa's economic development, a Nigerian minister said on Friday at the opening of a two-day summit in Lagos. "If you invest in women, you are investing in humanity," said Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank managing director. The Second African Women’s Economic Summit was co-organised by the African Development Bank and women’s organisation New Faces, New Voices, and focused on the role of women in finance. A CEO roundtable included the heads of several of Africa’s largest banks, including the UK-based Standard Chartered, and the Nigerian Access Bank and Diamond Bank. Okey Nwuke, Executive Director for Institutional Banking at Access Bank, described how the bank is developing dedicated products and services for women, and has given training to over 500 female entrepreneurs on how to grow their businesses successfully. (IGIHE; AllAfrica)

Corporate Reputation

Oil and gas has highest bribery rate

The oil and gas industry was subject to the most prosecutions for bribery and graft in the UK of any sector over the past four years, according to a new survey. Of 26 completed cases since 2008, oil and gas made up nearly one-fifth of prosecutions, mostly involving payments made abroad, or kickbacks to foreign government officials. With most oil and gas produced in third-world countries, the industry is far more exposed to the risk of corruption than other kinds of business. Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, and a place where western oil majors such as Shell, Total and ENI have been operating for decades, comes 143 out of 182 in Transparency International’s 2011 corruption perception index. Angola, where BP has a number of big projects, is at 168. (Financial Times*)

Apple in U-turn over environmental ratings system

Technology giant Apple has announced that it will rejoin the American EPEAT environmental ratings system for electronic products, just days after leaving it. The reversal of the announcement, described by a senior Apple executive as a "mistake", was apparently forced on the company by government agencies, schools and scientists which use EPEAT to certify the environmental credentials of computers they are considering purchasing. Apple has in the past year touted its own green credentials, most recently announcing a cleaner energy initiative at its data farms in North Carolina, but it has come in for criticism for the design of its latest laptop products, in which several components are not user-serviceable or replaceable. Bob Mansfield, Apple's senior vice-president of hardware engineering, insisted that "our commitment to protecting the environment has never changed, and today it is as strong as ever". (The Guardian)

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