In sustainable purchasing, there is often talk of “market readiness” for sustainable products and services. The idea is that sometimes organizations or consumers wish to purchase a more environmentally, ethically, or socially sustainable option, but the market has not yet produced this option, or does not produce it at scale. In these cases, purchasers can leverage their collective power to help influence the market to develop in a sustainable direction, through advocacy, or even direct investment. When it comes to sustainable services, sometimes the commodity that needs developing is the available labour itself.
A few weeks ago we posted about a new trend in sustainable procurement and global economic development called impact sourcing. Driven by initiatives from organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, “‘Impact sourcing’ is an inclusive employment practice through which companies intentionally connect high-potential, disadvantaged youth to available jobs.” The practice is taking off, with tech giants such as Microsoft beginning to capitalize on a win-win opportunity.
However, the jobs created when companies are practicing impact sourcing are only one half of the equation: these high-potential youth still need the education and training required to successfully perform at their jobs. Impact sourcing requires capacity-building. In order to develop this market of young and promising employees, we must find ways to invest in their education.
The African continent is a place where there is an abundance of high-potential youth who are desperately in need of sustainable employment. In many African countries, such as Uganda, education is prohibitively expensive for much of the population, and youth cannot access loans to defray the costs. As a result, even if jobs appear through impact sourcing employment creation, many prospective applicants would find themselves under-prepared to fill the positions.
So what can be done? Reeve believes in grassroots capacity-building, which is why we are helping to support a young and promising Ugandan student to fulfil her higher education dreams. Please check out Rosemary Nakasiita’s story here, and consider how you too might help push toward market readiness for impact sourcing.