Chevron Corporation is investing $30 million in something its chairman, Dave O’Reilly, says, makes “clear business sense” for the company.
And it’s not an investment in educational or university geology programs, lobbying efforts, long-term financial commitments to machinery or manpower, or even money earmarked for environmental issues or clean energy.
It is something more basic.
It’s the fight against TB, malaria and AIDS.
As such, Chevron is working with The Global Fund, an organization that finds innovative ways for multi-national corporations, like Chevron, to invest in the fight against the world’s diseases.
The partnership has been so successful that Chevron has been named the inaugural Corporate Champion by the fund.
“These diseases are a humanitarian issue, an economic issue, a political issue and a business issue,” said Chevron spokesperson Alexander Yelland.
And it’s an issue that the company believes affects not only the communities in which it operates, but also the company’s own bottom line.
Yelland says Chevron is convinced those diseases, along with other scourges around the world, “pose a significant threat to our people and our operations across the globe – particularly in the developing nations that are important to the company’s continued growth and success.”
Taking Care of Business
The Global Fund was created to finance the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria – diseases that kill over six million people each year, and the numbers are growing.
To date, the fund has committed $10 billion in 136 countries to support aggressive interventions against all three – and has done so by coordinating the efforts of many multi-national corporations.
Additionally, the fund, according to the Los Angeles Times, has guided the strategies of the newly established Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and international investments through the GAVI Alliance, which provides support for vaccination programs in least-developed countries.
Yelland says the connection between the debilitating effects of these diseases and Chevron’s overall business model and efficacy is clear.
“Typically striking people between the ages of 20 and 40, HIV/AIDS threatens the sustainability of our work force by attacking one of the most productive segments of society,” Yelland said. “Therefore with more than 58,000 employees, and business operations in 180 countries, fighting diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria makes clear business sense.”
Chevron, obviously, gets good press for doing so, but Yelland says that Global Fund is the kind of organization with which Chevron felt most comfortable because it is where the company could do the most good.
In short, it was a smart business move.
But there was something else, too, about Global Fund that attracted Chevron – one that will not come as a surprise.
“It (Global Fund) has a sound and proven funding process that ensures strong governance and capital stewardship,” Yelland said. “The strength of Global Fund is its partnership model that encourages participation between communities, government, civil society and businesses. This approach helps develop needs-based sustainable programs that engage the local community and have a measurable impact.”
For its part, Global Fund, which has attracted such luminaries as Bill Clinton and Bono in its efforts, believes these corporate champions can achieve much by lending their management skills and business infrastructure to the development and national strategies in the fight against these diseases.
“Global Fund was looking for corporate partners with a demonstrable track record and a history of engagement to develop their Corporate Champions Program,” said former Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Global Business Coalition president and CEO, “and given the natural fit of our strategies it made perfect sense.
“The Chevron-Global Fund partnership,” Holbrooke added, “will enhance already strong programs in hard-hit regions, strengthen local communities and bring Chevron’s business skills and human resources to bear on some of the most daunting challenges of our time.”
‘A Strategic Stake’
Since its creation in 2002, The Global Fund has coordinated over 20 percent of all international corporate financing for AIDS research and approximately two-thirds of that for TB and malaria, so it has experience in pulling off these partnerships.
Most importantly, millions of people have been treated and helped by the program, including those who have benefited from some of the Fund’s less “glamorous” endeavors, like the purchase of almost 50 million insecticide-treated bed nets that have helped prevent the spread of malaria.
Global Fund’s programs are designed as an integrated platform for public-private partnerships, giving corporations the opportunities to make a substantial contribution to world health and to know that its donations will be used in an effective and efficient way.
Yelland sees that as a good fit.
“Our global HIV/AIDs policy is founded on a decade of best practice developed from our operations in countries such as Angola, Nigeria and South Africa,” Yelland said. “The policy was developed in conjunction with independent experts and agencies, such as the United Nations Development Program and Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation. We have had a long-term commitment to fight AIDS/HIV and malaria.
“We have a strategic stake in the fight.”