“Initially we saw a lot of companies getting involved during emergencies primarily in basic ways such as selling goods and providing services,” Stephen Zyck, researcher at Overseas Development Institute (ODI) told CNBC Africa.
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“We have also seen companies periodically donating cash through corporate social responsibility programmes and undertaking small scale projects,” he added.
“What we have been seeing in recent years is a real shift from and a thinking about these issues. Recent trends show companies approaching humanitarian crisis as a commercial opportunity like any other opportunity for them to engage with in order to succeed in that space.”
Zyck noted that, one of the best examples come out of Kenya where after the devastation which included food and security crisis in 2011.
“After the devastations, a number of regional and international insurance companies got involved and managed to develop commercial and micro insurance products which they sold to lower income households in some arid part of Kenya,” said Zyck.
“Rather than relying in aid agencies alone, they managed to keep going on their own with the help of the insurance companies.”
According to the researcher, this is helping business to become a partner with communities as in Kenya they have managed to partner with farmers warning them of impending diseases and informing them to vaccinate their animals from impending diseases.
According to the ODI report; humanitarian crises, emergency preparedness and response: the role of business and the private sector, philanthropy is not the best way to help areas going through emergencies.
“Most people think philanthropy or forms of Corporate Social Responsibility are the best ways to help, but our research has shown that this is not the case,” said Zyck.
The report, which includes research from Jordan, Kenya, Indonesia, and Haiti, shows that where private sector companies are making money it’s because they are increasingly offering quality, in-demand services.
“Insurance companies in Asia and Africa are blunting the humanitarian consequences of droughts and cyclones, and banks are helping to rapidly transfer money to those affected by disasters. Businesses are also tackling sanitation and disaster preparedness says,” the ODI report read.