Sep 26
September 26, 2013

Small Groups Mobilizing for Big Impact at #CGI2013


Throughout the 2013 Annual Meeting, CGI members take part in a wide array of uniquely formatted sessions and special events, each designed to support different steps of the commitment-making process. While the meeting stage is home to prominent panels and new commitment announcements, it is often what happens off-camera and around the table—in CGI’s Small Group Discussions—that drives the commitment-making process forward.

Each year, in the lead up to the meeting, CGI staff—who oversee the nine year-round content Tracks—identify topics of momentum with CGI members. They then craft smaller, more intimate sessions to create optimal environments for members to collaborate. Here is a look inside a selection of this year’s Small Group Discussions:


This session brought members together to discuss opportunities for inclusive social and economic development in Myanmar, accompanied by Wunna Maung Lwin, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs in Myanmar, and Tony Blair, the Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Participants discussed priorities and principles of inclusive growth, with a focus on government engagement, responsible investment, and cross-sector partnerships. Several members spoke to ongoing activities in Myanmar, including H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani, chairman of Ooredoo, who presented the company’s 2013 CGI Commitment to Action, “Women Mobile Retail Agents in Myanmar,” which seeks to recruit and train 30,000 women as telecommunication retailers in their communities over three years. The following discussion, facilitated by John Podesta, chair of the Center for American Progress, included George Soros and Dr. Madeleine Albright, and touched on political reform and reconciliation efforts, key infrastructure needs, and opportunities for collaboration moving forward.


Making the Shared Value Case to Investors

This session brought together a combination of impact investing, sustainability, and shared value strategies. Janet Voûte, vice-president and global head of public affairs at Nestlé, discussed Nestlé’s history of shared value, examined the company’s experience with explaining the concept to investors, and analyzed how Nestlé integrates reporting of their business progress alongside their social impact. Jørgen Ole Haslestad, president and CEO of Yara International ASA, spoke about their 2013 CGI Commitment to Action to launch their shared value strategy to reduce the environmental impact of their fertilizer.

Syria: Delivering Support and Basic Services

During this session on the Syrian humanitarian crisis, Former President Jorge Sampaio of Portugal and Her Royal Highness Princess Basmah Bint Saud, founder and CEO of The United Global Lanterns, shared progress of a 2012 commitment they made to mobilize “Emergency Funds for Syrian Students and Scholars.” Their update spurred a discussion on steps to address the dire need for education for refugee youth.

Achieving Financial Inclusion for the Next Billion

Moderated by Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President & CEO of Women's World Banking, this session focused on the progression from microcredit to microfinance to financial inclusion, and how the issue has broadened to include topics such as savings, insurance, and financial literacy to better reach and protect under-served populations. Participants highlighted the use of technology and local trusted partners to reach rural areas more efficiently, and the need for more industry partnerships—specifically in the mobile industry—and alternative methods for evaluating individual’s credit worthiness. The discussion identified lessons that can be learned from the technology industry and e-commerce and mobile payments companies to build these alternative tools.

Human Trafficking: Sporting Events as Opportunities for Advocacy

At the 2012 Annual Meeting, President Obama made a call to action on slavery and human trafficking. This session was designed to assess the progress made over the last year, by the federal government and others, and to bring together stakeholders in a new way to rescue victims and raise awareness of slavery. Todd Park, the United States Chief Technology Officer, kicked-off the session and Sergeant Daniel Steele of the Denver Police Department Vice Squad spoke about the need to engage local law enforcement in a victim-centric policing model and to create connections between the police, community organizations, and victim service agencies. Liesl Gerntholtz, executive director of the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch, spoke about the human rights risks and opportunities presented by large events such as the Olympics, the Super Bowl, or the World Cup. These events create an increased risk of sexual exploitation, but they also offer an opportunity to educate the public and raise awareness.

Strategies for Improving Global Mental Health

CGI members came together to explore ways to integrate mental health and psychosocial support into global health systems, challenge existing stigmas, and raise local and global awareness of this vital issue. Among the group was Alice Johnson, a nurse and clinical mentor with Last Mile Health from rural Liberia, who shared her experiences treating depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in Liberia after the civil wars. Liberia’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Walter Gwenigale, also reflected on the need to fight stigma and support the training of more mental health care providers like Alice.