Aid for profit? Dutch supermarket giant says ‘sure’

Aid for profit? Dutch supermarket giant says ‘sure’

Reliance on quality produce from Africa prompted Albert Heijn to undertake aid projects. Photo: Erik Mandell for MercyCorps
Reliance on quality produce from Africa prompted Albert Heijn to undertake aid projects. Photo: Erik Mandell for MercyCorps

A Dutch company looks to combine international aid with corporate profit, according to allAfrica.com.

The supermarket chain Albert Heijn is funding and conducting development projects in Africa, including constructing water systems in Ghana, farmer training programs in South Africa, and expanded schooling in Kenya. But the company doesn’t claim that its efforts are based in charity. "It's very much business-driven. It bears almost no resemblance to charity or good causes," says Henri Zondag, chair of the Albert Heijn foundation.

Albert Heijn supermarkets rely heavily on quality produce from Africa, and the idea is that healthier, happier and better-educated suppliers make trade relationships more productive. The Dutch government is a player in this arrangement too, encouraging business-sector participation in cooperative development relationships and economic benefits for the Netherlands. The government hopes that “making a profit can be a great incentive for [development] projects.” The company envisions projects that forge partnerships that lead to greater profit. If both are correct, in the long term all parties involved could win.

Erik Mandell is a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in public administration and global leadership at Portland State. Read his other contributions to Global Envision.

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