Business Charity Awards: Overseas Project - Winner: Marks & Spencer with Unicef

For a company that has successfully helped the beneficiaries of a UK charity in a project outside the UK

Savings from re-using M&S hangers were used in Bangladesh
Savings from re-using M&S hangers were used in Bangladesh

What was the project?
The retailer allocated money saved by re-using clothes hangers to provide funding to help more than 30,000 residents living in Bangladeshi slums.

How did it work?
Marks & Spencer staff asked customers to leave clothes hangers at its tills and re-used them throughout their UK stores. Approximately 180 million hangers a year have been saved, leading to significant financial savings and environmental benefits. From these savings, £1.85m has been donated to Unicef UK over three years to improve medical, childcare, nutrition and educational services in garment-producing regions of Bangladesh. Unicef’s work in the slums of Bangladesh had been on hold because it was short of funding, but the money from M&S has enabled the charity to resume and scale up its work in the region. The partners have been monitoring the project’s success closely and a full impact report is due out later this year.

What projects has it funded?
Between August 2012 and April 2013, the programme provided enough funding for 400 children to continue their schooling and for 3,893 mothers to receive hygiene lessons. In addition, 5,635 people are now benefiting from a community-based, doorstep waste collection, among many other improvements.

What did the judges say?
Stephen Uden, head of corporate citizenship at Nationwide Building Society, said: "It’s a very impressive project with a national link to business."

Highly commended
Thames Water with WaterAid

KPMG with Restless Development, Fairtrade International and Child Helpline International
R Twinings & Co with Mercy Corps

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