This week, the Shared Value Leadership Summit meets in New York City, featuring contributions by a number of members of the CGI community. Tomorrow morning’s opening session— which will be live webcast—includes remarks from Professor Michael E. Porter and a panel including Tony O. Elumelu of Heirs Holdings and Arif Naqvi of The Abraaj Group. The summit itself is a result of a 2012 CGI Commitment to Action by FSG and partners to launch the Shared Value Initiative (SVI), with the goal of helping companies learn about and adopt principles of “shared value.”
As defined by Porter and Mark R. Kramer in 2011, shared value means “creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society.” As part of the 2012 commitment, SVI works with its partners to spread learnings and the practice of shared value concepts, and developing research to this effect. Since 2012, SVI has doubled its commitment partners from 15 to 30, including a variety of CGI members from across sectors. SVI has also certified more than 80 individuals as “shared value consultants,” and is engaging over 2,000 professionals on a regular basis through their online platform.
SVI has not only surpassed its initial commitment goals; it has also helped shape the commitments of other CGI members—including Western Union, BD, and Yara International. Western Union, one of the partners on the SVI commitment, has integrated shared value by leveraging their core business competencies and products for the benefit of NGOs in the developing world. In 2012, Western Union committed to create a new financial platform—NGO GlobalPay—to leverage Western Union’s global reach to better connect NGOs, funders, and the communities they serve. By utilizing “preferred volume-based pricing” and Western Union’s core business payment products, the platform will deliver shared value by providing access to capital and other services to NGO partners. As of March 2014, Western Union has dramatically increased the number of countries who can receive payments from 18 to 189, and has also added to the countries that can send funds, reaching more NGOs.
Becton, Dickinson & Co. (BD) took a similar but manifestly different “shared value” approach in their 2013 commitment. The issue at hand is the injuries and deaths that result during childbirth in the developing world, particularly as a result of forceps or vacuum-assisted obstetrical devices. An automotive technician named Jorge Odon from Argentina developed a new obstetrical device which ultimately was recognized as part of the Grand Challenge—Saving Lives at Birth in 2012. The World Health Organization asked BD to prepare the device for market. In this case, instead of creating a new product from scratch or utilizing an existing product, BD is leveraging their business’s core competencies—such as R&D, ability to manufacture and distribute at scale, and design-centered thinking—to address a significant health challenge. As of February 2014, BD is conducting market research on the product, and testing is underway in Argentina and South Africa. BD is also partnering with EBD Singapore to complete development of the product.
- Jørgen Haslestad, President and CEO, Yara Interational
In a markedly different approach, agricultural company Yara International made a 2013 commitment to integrate shared value throughout their company with a new strategic plan titled “Creating Impact.” The plan called for all future investments to demonstrate shared valued for “customers and society” and to address the issues of food security and the environment by strategies such as crop nutrition, land preservation, and carbon footprint reduction. The commitment will both benefit Yara’s business and the markets they work in, as well as provide broader environmental impact. Specific projects that Yara will undertake include: the growth of their business to help customers to cleanse NOx emissions, working with farms near the Baltic Sea to reduce environmental impact, and scaling up their work with the Ghana Grains Partnership to help farmers increase maize yield levels.
To learn more about the Shared Value Initiative and the work of its partners, visit sharedvalue.org.