EIGHTY Christian business leaders gathered at Christian Aid’s first full-day Salt conference earlier this month.
The event, which was held in London, sought to bring together business leaders from a range of industries to help them meet sustainable-development goals, and teach them how to use their companies to transform local and international communities.
Christian Aid’s Salt network manager, Helen Howe, said that the Salt network came about when the charity realised that it would “have to work with private companies to solve poverty”, and asked: “What is it we can do with Christian business leaders to get there?”
The group has 90 members across five hubs in the UK — London, the East Midlands, the north-west, the north-east, and the south-west —and two more are in development, as well as a prospective international hub opening in Ghana.
Mrs Howe said: “If you are a Christian business then you have got a responsibility to understand the impact of your business, both on the world and on people.”
The conference heard keynote speeches from the Global Head of Citizenships for KPMG International, Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick; the managing director of Divine Chocolate, Sophie Tranchell; and the director of group policy and campaigns at the Co-operative Group, Paul Gerrard.
There were also workshops on topics including modern slavery in supply chains, and the Bible and business. Mrs Howe described it as a “brilliant success”, and said that she had received positive feedback.
“We work together, united in the belief that poverty in all its forms is an outrage, and that business done well can not only generate profit but can make a real positive change in the lives and communities of those in greatest need globally.
“Since the launch, Salt membership has steadily grown, and later this year some members will be part of our first self-funded overseas trip to Bolivia, to visit some of the social-enterprise work-projects we’ve been able to support.
“This includes the handicrafts enterprise Caleidoscopio, located in La Paz; and Chalalán S.A., a community-owned ecotourism company located in the heart of the Madidi National Park, in the Bolivian Amazon.”
Mrs Howe also said that she was keen to work with other Christian business initiatives and help promote them. “If we are genuine about building the Kingdom, we should be promoting what everyone else is doing. There is a limited amount of support for Christian business; so it is important to promote what is on offer.”