A better future – together

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By Vuyo Lutseke, Director, SVAI

The Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI) has spent five years promoting the Shared Value Business Management concept and fostering a purpose-driven mindset across the continent. Now, with a focus on economic growth, climate action, and health, as well as gender equality and technology, the SVAI aims to demonstrate the collective power of businesses to drive sustainability in Africa over the next years and beyond.

Over these past five years, the Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI) has done tremendous work in raising the flag for the Shared Value Business Management concept— the understanding of the principle, but also its impact when properly integrated into business strategy and operations. The importance of looking beyond profit and into purpose, and using an innovative business mindset to solve challenges faced by our society. This intersects with sustainability, ESG, impact, and other key points in the business’ value chain.

We have established the concept and strategic partnerships across the continent; and now it is time to focus on growth – growth of understanding, implementation, and measurement within our existing community; growth of our cross-continental footprint; and how we form partnerships. At the core of our work is to drive value creation by the private sector by creating platforms for best practice sharing and opportunities for learning and collaboration within our network, the broader business community, and the civil and public sectors.

In our current three-year strategy (2022-2025) this work focuses on economic growth, climate action, and health pillars, with gender equality and technology cutting through all three pillars as important elements in driving transformation on the continent. These strategic focus areas will guide our roadmap in demonstrating the collective power of businesses in driving sustainability across Africa. We will focus on continuing to grow our community (members and strategic partners), with a focus on not just talk but capacity building, impact, and outcomes for our business collective.

JamiiTrade is another forward-looking, growth-focused initiative that was founded by Shift and SVAI, in partnership with the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and supported by AnalyticsX as a development partner. It is a curated digital community that facilitates access to information for SMMEs looking to trade across borders, and connects them to each other. While we are still in the fundraising and development stages of this platform, we are confident of its future impact. It is a platform that underlines our belief in the future of Africa’s development being in the hands of entrepreneurs; all we need to do is support them to get there.

Furthermore, through these and other efforts, SVAI continues to catalyse building of an empowered legion of start-ups and leaders that are committed to driving a positive narrative of a proactive African business network that is solving for the continent’s growth.

#ItsNotOk itself, while founded through activism, has grown to be a platform to drive private sector participation in the all-important discourse to drive gender equality in the workplace and in society at large. We look forward to growing this in East, West, North, and Central Africa. Research has affirmed our belief that if the work we do to advance our society is done without a gender equity lens, it will yield limited and unsustainable results. And so, with this network plan, we continue to demonstrate the importance of gender equity as a civil rights issue that no one can afford to ignore.

The above are flagship initiatives that we are currently in key discussions to scale up—JamiiTrade being our own shared value enterprise that will give rise to our strategic pillar on driving economic growth. And as we look for funding to develop and scale this, we are confident that it will not only support the acceleration of cross-border trade, but also influence policy on AfCFTA and entrepreneurship.

The current global, and particularly continental climate shows a clear need for a sustainable approach to business, and while discourse around Creating Shared Value has grown across Africa, our advocacy work continues and, if anything, will ramp up as we further entrench ourselves—through members and strategic partners—across the continent. And we will be doing so by using new models and strategies to look at how we can scale up our impact as well as that of our network.

Our purpose as SVAI is to build Africa’s most impactful shared value business network – with the intention of contributing to a continent that is self-sufficient, a powerhouse that leads the rest of the world with best practices in innovation, entrepreneurship, and purpose-driven leadership, and thus thriving on its own terms. This is not a goal that is ours alone; in fact, we invite you to join us and commit to playing your part in this future that is possible and within reach if we all act together.