Think Global, Buy Local: Supporting Innovation and Economic Growth

19th July, 2022
By: Joanne Ballard, E.S.G Strategy and Compliance Director

In the first part of my blog on UN global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) number 8 – ‘Decent work and economic growth’ – I looked at how businesses should carefully examine their supply chain to ensure they weren’t inadvertently supporting forced labour. In part 2, I’ll consider how the supply chain can ‘diversify, innovate, and upgrade for economic productivity’ and it’s easier than it sounds.

Businesses are natural engines for powering economic growth, but it could be their choice of suppliers that makes the biggest impact on SDG 8 targets for supporting productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation. Working towards that goal can be as simple as supporting smaller businesses and shopping local.

While some of our partners are global and multi-national providers (and their technology offerings make them irreplaceable as part of our business model), Maintel has made a conscious effort to proactively look for opportunities to use local suppliers wherever possible.

That’s how we purchase marketing gifts, Christmas hampers, fruit and snacks for staff, and it’s how we hire cleaners for our office buildings across the country. Choosing small local businesses to deliver services to each location means we have more suppliers and therefore more relationships to manage, but the benefits hugely outweigh that minor inconvenience.

By supporting small local enterprises:

  • We are boosting the local economy in the communities where many of our staff and their families live. Local businesses are more likely to hire locally (creating employment opportunities), and the money spent there is more likely to stay in the community (£3.80 for every £10 spent). And when a small business grows into a large enterprise, it often stays in the area where it all began, cycling more money and opportunity back into that community.
  • We are supporting innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. While local providers may not always have the lowest prices or the widest selection, their offerings are often unique, and their hands-on knowledge of the local audience and individual customers can result in fast, flexible and original problem solving.
  • And we’re protecting the environment. The lure of the larger cut-price providers and their overnight delivery of anything to anywhere is strong, but it comes at a cost: the negative effects of additional packaging, fuel and transportation on our climate and ecology. Local products are often made from locally sourced resources and the use of local employees minimises the environmental impact of commuting.

We hold our local suppliers to exactly the same standards as our global partners, running credit checks, director checks, and requesting details of standards and certifications they work to. And we monitor them, not just in terms of SLAs but looking at safety of working environments and staff welfare. We ensure their employees are paid a living wage, and would never pay a supplier in cash, (it would be red flag for them to even ask).

SDG 8, ‘Decent work and economic growth’, is a great example of how taking action towards one Sustainable Development Goal naturally facilitates the achievement of others.

Supporting local small and medium-sized enterprises can provide more opportunities to offer productive employment and satisfying personal development than creating jobs within your own business, while naturally lowering your carbon footprint. And by keeping an eye on your suppliers’ suppliers, you can easily affect equality, diversity and poverty targets too.

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