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Luis Ballesteros

The frequency and magnitude of for-profit organizations engaging in tackling large social issues have increased substantially in the last 20 years. An exemplar is the role of firms in helping communities prepare, cope with and recover from uncertainty shocks like hurricanes, droughts, and earthquakes. Company disaster giving has become the fastest growing source for funding disaster response while the inflation-adjusted value of public and multilateral aid has decreased over the years and the economic costs of disasters have skyrocketed. This chapter reviews how firms have used their resources and competences to bring innovation in the way communities deal with disasters. It builds on recent empirical evidence showing that countries that have had a substantial share of international aid coming from firms had comparatively fast and great economic recoveries from natural disasters. Several cases suggest that firms may have a comparative advantage in disaster aid vis-à-vis other entities given their capabilities to sense the social need and act swiftly upon on it by bringing resources from other geographies, and by reconfiguring their operations and products to supply public goods efficiently. This chapter summarizes some of these cases and offers a narrative of how societies can leverage the business sector to tackle similar urgent issues worldwide.