Winners see business as a tool for change
Financial and employment inclusion key to driving sustainable business
Marc Benioff, James Mwangi and Felicitas Pantoja are the winners of the 2020 Oslo Business for Peace Award
09.09.2020, Oslo — Today, the Business for Peace Foundation announced the 2020 Oslo Business for Peace Award winners. The Honourees are: Marc Benioff, Founder, Chair and CEO of Salesforce; James Mwangi, Chairman and CEO of Equity Group Holdings; and Felicitas “Joji” Bautista Pantoja, Co-Founder and CEO of Coffee for Peace.
The Oslo Business for Peace Award is given annually to business leaders, as individuals, for their outstanding businessworthy accomplishments; leaders who apply their business energy ethically and responsibly, creating stronger economic and societal value. An independent Award Committee of Nobel Laureates in Peace and Economics has selected the three outstanding leaders to receive the Award this year. Past winners include Ouided Bouchamaoui, Richard Branson, Paul Polman, and Durreen Shahnaz. The 2020 winners (honourees) will be celebrated at the Business for Peace Summit in May 2021.
Each of the 2020 Honourees transformed their businesses, industries and communities through positive change, inspiring leaders to follow suit. Benioff established the ‘1–1–1 model,’ whereby a company contributes one percent of profits, equity, and employee hours back to the communities it serves. Mwangi enabled the unbanked population in Kenya opportunities for broader economic participation. Pantoja provided sustainable livelihoods for indigenous and migrant groups in rural areas, enabling over 880 farmers to escape poverty and build their coffee production capacity.
“In a world of various complexities such as globalisation, polarisation and environmental struggles, this year’s Honourees have led by using business as a tool for change. They are role models to society and their peers, have earned stakeholders’ trust, and stand out as advocates,” says Per Saxegaard, founder of the Business for Peace Foundation. “Through their business activities they have made substantial contributions towards reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 8: helping to achieve sustained, sustainable and inclusive growth and decent work for all.”
“With ten years left until we need to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and at a time when the world is looking for a clear direction, the Business for Peace Honourees show real leadership and the invaluable efforts from the business community. I am proud that Oslo, for the twelfth year, is hosting the business community’s own award for ethical and sustainable business. It is an example of how to create value for both stakeholders and shareholders,” says Raymond Johansen, Governing Mayor of Oslo.
The 2020 Honourees are:
Marc Benioff, Chair and CEO and Founder of Salesforce (United States)
Salesforce is the fastest growing top-five enterprise software companies of all time and the number one provider of CRM services. Benioff built Salesforce on the idea that business can be the greatest platform for change, integrating social responsibility into the company culture from the beginning. Benioff established the ‘1–1–1 model,’ whereby a company contributes one percent of profits, equity, and employee hours back to the communities it serves. Within the company, Salesforce has spent more than USD 10 million to eliminate all pay disparities by gender, race and ethnicity. Benioff strongly believes that being a CEO in today’s world means taking care of all stakeholders. He is an outspoken advocate for business leaders supporting causes such as LGBT rights, education inclusion, wealth reallocation and alleviating homelessness. Today, Salesforce has 35,000 employees and more than 150,000 customers worldwide. Benioff is leading a revolution in the tech sector to create a more equal, fair and sustainable way of doing business.
“It is a great honour to be recognised by the Business for Peace Foundation, which recognises that businesses have profound responsibilities to all our stakeholders, including our communities and our planet,” says Benioff. “As more companies embrace stakeholder capitalism and commit to meeting the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, we see that business is the greatest platform for change.”
James Mwangi, Chair and CEO of Equity Group Holdings (Kenya)
Dr James Mwangi is one of Africa’s most renowned entrepreneurs. He is credited with democratising financial access by giving the un-banked population opportunities for broader economic participation. He has led Equity to become an integrated financial services group operating in 6 African countries with a client base of over 14 million. Dr Mwangi’s ability to merge economic theory to the practical realities of village life enabled him to revolutionise the banking industry in Africa. Today, Equity is one of the most inclusive banks in the world with clients across the socio-economic spectrum including youth and women.
“I dedicate this Award to our staff and to the millions of our customers who have continuously inspired us by trusting and believing in our common purpose and dream, that together we can solve our problems by seeking innovative solutions anchored on shared value and prosperity,” says Mwangi. “I share this award with our micro, small and medium entrepreneurs who wake up every day to create wealth and opportunities for our society. This Award is a great inspiration to all Africans to believe in their dreams and to pursue them with dedication and conviction that together, we can change our continent within our lifetime.”
Felicitas ‘Joji’ Bautista Pantoja, Co-Founder and CEO of Coffee for Peace (Phillipines)
Felicitas “Joji” Pantoja has dedicated her career to building peace in conflict zones and improving the lives of marginalized groups through economic stability. Based in the Philippines, Coffee for Peace uses coffee production as a tool to address the economic, environmental and peace issues prevalent in conflict-affected communities. Today, Coffee for Peace provides sustainable livelihoods for Indigenous and migrant groups in rural areas, enabling over 880 farmers to escape poverty and build their coffee production capacity. The company’s focus is on sustainable agriculture, peace and reconciliation between religious groups, environmental protection and entrepreneurship.
“This recognition brings hope. It affirms the dreams and aspirations of our small farming partners, micro-enterprise partners, impact investors, and employees that there are respectable people in the business world who believe in and serve as ‘cheerleaders’ for us who struggle for economic justice. This recognition affirms that inclusive development can be a reality through social enterprise,” says Pantoja.
About the Oslo Business for Peace Award
The Oslo Business for Peace Award is given out annually to exemplary business leaders who apply their business energy ethically and responsibly, creating economic and societal value. Winners are selected by an independent committee of Nobel Prize winners in Peace and in Economics after a global nomination process through the International Chamber of Commerce, United Nations Global Compact, United Nations Development Programme, and Principles for Responsible Investment and by former Honourees. The committee evaluates the nominees on the criteria of being a role model to society and their peers, having earned trust by stakeholders, and standing out as an advocate. Read more about the Award here.