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Walk for the greater good

Sangeeta Singh | June 25, 2005

It isn't all about delivering goods and documents. TNT Express, one of the world's largest express delivery companies, is helping raise nutritional levels of schoolchildren across the world.

As part of its corporate social responsibility, on June 12, the company's employees, along with their families and friends, participated in "Fight Hunger: Walk the World", covering 24 time zones raising awareness about child hunger.

They were accompanied by 2,00,000 people across the globe. In India, the 5 km walk was organised simultaneously in Delhi and Bangalore.

The company is partnering with United Nation's World Food Programme and together they aim to raise euro 2 million, the counting for which will be done by the end of the month.

And according to TNT officials, the walk has generated considerable enthusiasm among citizens across the globe who continue to donate money through the Internet. They also claim that the participation this year has been five times that of last year.

And since India is one of the poorer nations, the Walk, conducted both in Delhi and Bangalore had significant meaning. "Last year we raised Rs 790,000 in India alone, which went towards distributing nutrional biscuits to 1,000 children in a school in Chattisgarh," says Ritwik Barman, general manager, TNT India.

This year the fund will also be used for the same purpose. And fund money raised in India will be utilised in feeding hungry children in India alone.

Gian Pietro Bordignon, country director, UN World Food Programe says distribution of these biscuits are encouraging children to go to school and girls' enrolment has risen considerably.

"Poverty leads to the worst kind of conservatism and not sending girls to school is a phenomenon related to that," he says. Not only in India but even in other poor nations, more and more girls are sent to school when an incentive of getting a meal is given.

And these biscuits, loaded with proteins, vitamins and other nutritional elements, are specially manufactured under supervision of UNWFP volunteers and personally distributed by these officials.

Unlike similar programmes conducted by multilateral development institutes, there is a personal touch that WFP officials give by making sure the money is spent on the target groups. Bordignon also claims that of every euro 10 donated to WFP, euro 9 directly benefit the hungry poor.

And what made TNT get into food distribution? The company claims that availability of food is not a problem but the distribution is. And TNT being in the business of movement of goods, this is a natural choice.

Burman also says that it takes only 19 cents a day to feed a child, and if the rich and upwardly mobile join hands through programmes like this, feeding the hungry will not remain a problem.

Since WFP has been involved in raising the nutrional levels of 56 million children in over 80 poor nations across the globe, partnering with a euro 126 billion (2004 sales) company makes absolute sense.

TNT also claims this is the first worldwide employee fund- raising event organised by any corporate along with the United Nations. Though TNT is also instrumental in other developing activities, partnering with the WFP gives it the right distribution network and recognition of being associated with a UN programme.

As for WFP, TNT's global reach in logistics and express and financial strength is a plus. Clearly a win-win situation.


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