How companies can drive social impact while driving profit

Executives of businesses operating in Rwanda will gather in Kigali on 31 October 2019 for an in-depth discussion about how they can lead their companies to solve social problems while driving profits.

Research has shown that businesses focusing on economic growth and social purpose can outperform competitors. The meeting, titled “Shared Value in Africa: join the conversation”, will enable business leaders to share insights on effective ways to drive the adoption of Shared Value, a business model that enables business to create economic value and value for society.

The event is co-hosted by the Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI), the Pan-African business network that is the regional partner of the global Shared Value Initiative. The Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB) and the Private Sector Federation (PSF) are also co-hosting the event.

Shared Value thinking

“Shared Value thinking – the ability to see the business opportunity in driving the creation of a better world through the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals – is key to Africa becoming the economic powerhouse of the twenty-first century,” says SVAI CEO Tiekie Barnard. “Creating Shared Value is a choice that leadership make to increase their competitiveness, grow their organisations and use their strategies to address social issues.”

Delegates will learn from the successes of Water Access Rwanda and KCB Group, whose leaders have driven successful Shared Value strategies. To close the event, a panel discussion will feature Christelle Kwizera, CEO of Water Access Rwanda; Jane Mwangi, Managing Director of KCB Foundation; John Bee, Regional Head of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs at Nestlé; and Tiekie Barnard, CEO of SVAI. The discussion will be chaired by Makeda Mahadeo, CNBC Africa Anchor.

Purpose agenda

The aim is for all delegates at the event to learn to identify business opportunities solving social and environmental problems. Shared Value, the particularly powerful business management strategy identified by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer of Harvard University, is assisting companies worldwide to follow this route.

Using this approach, a company starts by identifying a key social or environmental issue to focus on that is in line with their business operations, finding a possible solution and collaborating with partner, planning the relevant business activities involved, and modelling anticipated business and social benefits relative to projected costs.

“Rwanda has taught many countries in the rest of the world that it is possible to achieve  one of the highest rates of economic growth globally, while also making significant improvement in social conditions of its people,” says Barnard. “Rwanda’s rate of economic growth has averaged 8% since 2001, according to the World Bank. In social terms, poverty rates have fallen while healthcare has improved. It is important to discuss how businesses can contribute to building on this success.”

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