'Most environmentally aware' firms highlighted

Doctor on a mobile phone at a hospital in a remote part of Kenya
Image caption One of the 16 highlighted firms, Kenya's Equity Bank, runs a mobile phone banking service

A report has identified 16 companies from across the developing world that are best showing how to grow profits at the same time as actively tackling environmental and social challenges.

The study by the World Economic Forum (WEF) pinpointed firms in countries as diverse as Costa Rica, Egypt and China.

The WEF said it showed that global "green" businesses were not the only ones with sustainability credentials.

The report looked at 1,000 companies in the developing world.

'Positively influence'

Co-authored by management consultants Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the study said the findings were doubly interesting "given the challenges faced by emerging market companies which often have to deal with multiple problems".

It said these local difficulties ranged from substandard infrastructure and weak environmental regulatory regimes, to acute talent shortages and underdeveloped governance practices.

One of the companies highlighted in the New Sustainability Champions report was Filipino firm Manila Water.

The report said the utility company was using community partnerships, watershed management, and flexible payment options to boost access to clean water.

Another business to make the 16 best performers was Kenya's Equity Bank, which the study said had pioneered mobile banking in its nation's rural areas.

"While demonstrating superior industry performance and operational efficiency, the New Sustainability Champions innovate to overcome the real constraints that they face," said Knut Haanaes, a BCG partner.

"They proactively engage with all stakeholder groups and positively influence their environments.

"As a result, they generate steady profitable growth and are role models for their regions and industries."

The report comes as the World Economic Forum continues to meet in Dalian, China.

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