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News and Opinions

Supporting the growth of SA’s social economy

The social economy, which refers to economic activities in which social and environmental benefit, rather than individual benefit, is intentionally prioritised, is recognised by the South African Government as an important economic sector. Kerryn Krige, chief technical adviser for the Social Economy Policy Project, provides an update on the draft policy document which aims to support the growth and sustainability of the social economy in the country

Read more: Supporting the growth of SA’s social economy

ABSA: Being a force for good in society

Absa’s new strategy reflects our African identity. We are firmly committed to playing a shaping role in society.

 Bringing possibilities to life: Absa’s new strategy

The Absa group embarked on a journey to become a fundamentally different, disruptive and digitally led bank; making some critical choices that shape the business and brand strategies. One of the key decisions is for the business to become an active force for good in society. With that, our new purpose and strategy, at the heart of which is growth, will be driven through three strategic priorities and three enablers, one of which is playing a shaping role in society.


Read more: ABSA: Being a force for good in society

When private sector investment creates a social impact

Government and businesses should develop shared value to address socio-economic challenges. Building shared value is an important quality for accelerating social and economic change, especially in times of economic difficulty - by Mzukisi Qobo.

Building the Shared Value ecosystem in Africa - Insights from 2018 Africa Shared Value Summit

"The idea of creating Shared Value has become a global movement," he noted. "If Africa is going to leapfrog to the 'good capitalism' [Shared Value], it's going to depend on the culture that is created in the business community here. It’s going to depend on the vision and the leadership … to spread this culture, so that when business thinks about how to succeed, they think about the kind of profit that enables everyone to succeed." - Mark Kramer, co-founder and MD of FSG

Doing good is good for business: Tiekie Barnard explains the benefits of Shared Value

Business is driven by profit, but Shift Social Development CEO Tiekie Barnard believes in the importance of profit with purpose. In this Q&A, she explains the meaning of Shared Value and how companies can use this business strategy to find where the biggest growth opportunities lie.

It is now critical for any business to demonstrate that it has a purpose before and beyond profit, and that it seeks to improve the lives of its customers. Failure to have such a purpose, to be clear about it and to ensure it directs everything you do, will lose customers, employees and ultimately business value. This requires transparency and authentically communicating purpose to the consumer in a tangible, trustworthy way.


We rise together: Collaboration and Africa's economic future

The key to business sustainability is changing how we think about competition and partnership. The business landscape is beginning to shift away from the traditional competition model, especially in Africa, to a form of capitalism that is more open to collaboration. When it comes to making a positive impact on the world, of course, there is immense power in joining forces to create collective impact at a scale far beyond what any one company could achieve alone.

One of the three pillars of the Shared Value business model is Enabling Local Cluster Development, which the Shared Value Initiative defines as “Improving the available skills, supplier base, and supporting institutions in the communities where a company operates to boost productivity, innovation, and growth”. In a nutshell, this is the development of and investment in the Shared Value ecosystem. In order to implement Shared Value successfully throughout the value chain, a business must work with the communities in which it operates, the non-government organisations that have the knowledge and experience to guide purpose-driven policy implementation, and the government entities responsible for regulation and maintaining the infrastructure essential to normal business operations.


‘Doing good by doing well’? Reflections of a critical friend at the Shared Value Summit

"...the concept of Shared Value sets itself apart from frameworks like philanthropy and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The key distinguishing feature of Shared Value is that it aims to address social and environmental problems through company’s core business, rather than as a separate side project. Sustainability and human rights are not add-ons or compliance tasks but part of a corporate strategy. It’s the old business case argument on steroids.

From Oxfam’s perspective, the motivation behind Shared Value, to better align core business and social impact, is an ambition we agree with. For too long, we have struggled to move attention to social issues out of niche sustainability departments and onto the agenda of corporate executives. Nevertheless, the discussion at the Shared Value Summit left me with more questions than answers."

Moving from Passion Projects to Sustainable Investments – The Evolution of Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become one of the standard practices of business. It has seen many incarnations over the years, and continues to keep evolving even today.

But for every corporate leader that believes it is an important part of any company’s business strategy, there is an equal number of dissenting voices that say it is nothing more than a corporate obligation forced on them by, either, legislation or public pressure.

Shared value benefits firms and society

A company cannot succeed in a society that is failing. These words, spoken by Sanda Ojiambo, head of corporate responsibility at Safaricom, crystallise the core message of the inaugural Africa Shared Value Summit.

Taking place in Johannesburg this week, the summit brings together business, the government and academia to explore best practice in the field of shared value — a concept dubbed by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter in the Harvard Business Review.

Optimism about Africa's future

Africa is rising and fast becoming a lucrative commercial market with enormous investment potential. Despite recent slumps in commodity price exports, the growing relative political stability, improved economic governance and a more predictable business environment for investors means there is a growing optimism about the continent’s future, as the performance of economies of countries such as Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Rwanda and Mozambique keeps hopes of a growth explosion alive.

There is shared value in the South African film and cinema market

Issues of shared value are increasingly topical across much of South Africa, and are especially relevant within the local film sector, where there is a progressively more urgent need for greater alignment behind what “giving back” actually looks like. The nuances in this space are important, especially as we transition from local content in terms of its value as an art, towards where there is a more mature balance in terms of its sustainable commercial value.

SA company leads way as Porter’s Shared-Value business model gets traction

America’s biggest bank, Wells Fargo, has been fined $185m after disclosures that 5 300 employees had secretly opened 2m accounts for customers who didn’t ask for them. Wells reacted by firing those who did the deeds (average 377 each). Critics believe it is the CEO and his top team who should have been bulleted because staff were incentivised to act dishonestly by an excessively aggressive sales policy.

You have to wonder when companies like Wells Fargo will realise old style capitalism is dead. Since the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, progressive companies have been adopting business guru Michael Porter’s “Shared Value” business model – where customers, society at large and the business all benefit.

The Triple Bottom Line, Inclusive Business and Shared Value

Today’s highly competitive, globalized, world requires organizations and businesses to think differently about how they are going to stay in business. They can no longer afford to focus on profits alone as other factors, such as social and environmental sustainability, are becoming more present – both in real terms as well as from a regulatory perspective. The hyper-connectedness of our modern world also means that customers now have more information about businesses than ever, as well as a greater number of choices, meaning that businesses that fail to understand all of what their customers are looking for will be substituted quickly.

Organizations must therefore think about ways to build sustainable business that incorporates more than just short term thinking on profits. 

Shared value, partnerships the ‘formula’ for African growth

Africa’s developmental challenges can only truly be met through the mainstreaming of public–private partnerships (PPPs) that drive the creation of a shared value in the pursuit of profits and the development of infrastructure, it was held at the EY Strategic Growth Forum Africa 2014.

The central premise behind creating shared value, EY CEO Ajen Sita explained, was that the competitiveness of a company and the health of the communities and economies around it were mutually dependent.

Are SA companies ready for shared value?

When Michael Porter and Mark Kramer published ‘Creating shared value‘ in Harvard Business Review in February 2011, the impact was huge. Although much of it was positive (a stellar citation rate; articles in The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian; Davos roundtables; McKinsey’s award for the best HBR article in 2011), many within the sustainability community were less impressed.

John Elkington, executive chair of Volans and the nearest sustainability has to a founding father, took Porter deftly to task for his lack of subtlety. Paul Polman, Unilever CEO and sustainability’s leading light ever since he told short-term speculators to sell their shares in his company, was also unconvinced.

Others decided that the difference between sustainability and shared value was simply semantics. We don’t agree.

Creating Shared Value: How South Africa Led The World In Corporate Governance & Economic Empowerment

Part of the Searching for Sustainable Business series.

The concept of shared value became increasingly important for business in South Africa during the 1990s, long before it was coined by the Harvard academic duo of Michael Porter and Mark Kramer. Fortunately for me, I had a front-row seat. 

Sustainability should not be consigned to history by Shared Value

I was delighted to participate in the recent Shared Value Leadership Summithosted by FSG, a non-profit consultancy founded by Mark Kramer. Together Professor Michael Porter and Kramer wrote Creating Shared Value, published in the Harvard Business Review in 2011.

However, I left Cambridge, Massachusetts somewhat unsettled about some aspects of the way Porter seems to see the sustainability agenda.