Putting Purpose into Practice through Shared Value
REPORTBACK: On the first cohort of the Purpose Playbook Training for
young African leaders, powered by SHIFT Impact and the SVAI.
By Andrews Akoto-Addo
The shift to a post-COVID business environment is unnerving. Our business climate is rapidly evolving and everyone is working hard just to keep up. The way we do business, which we thought would be a transient adjustment, is becoming a uniquely “new normal” and, as business leaders, we still have a lot to learn.
As a budding business developer, who is driven by a resolute desire to learn, stay relevant and pursue purpose with clarity, it was an honour to have been selected together with my colleague [Janat Issifu], as part of the first cohort of the Purpose Playbook (PP) Training hosted by SHIFT Impact Africa and the Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI).
Admittedly, I gained the requisite knowledge and skills needed to drive our organisation (GrassRoots Hub) to sustained growth, as well as contribute to the development of low-to-moderate income startups and small and growing businesses (SGBs) within my network.
OVERVIEW OF THE PURPOSE PLAYBOOK (PP) TRAINING
With an amazing group of young business leaders and entrepreneurs from different sectors and regions across Africa (West, East and southern Africa), we acquired sought-after strategic insights and business management principles to aid the development of our respective companies. The knowledge gained will undoubtedly also advance our respective leadership journeys within our chosen fields of expertise.
The learning cohort consisted of four sessions between 26 February and 19 March 2021, each lasting for a maximum of three hours per week, plus a planned coaching session between each company and the SHIFT Impact team to take place during April and May.
We discussed, in practicality, the nexus of building sustainable businesses and applying novel strategies that guarantee profits within the context of four main thematic focus areas: Leading with Purpose and Building a Supportive Corporate Culture; Designing a Distinctive Shared Value Strategy; Embedding Purpose into Company Operations, and Empowering Talent to Reimagine the Way Business is Done.
Adeline Mmary, Executive Secretary of Pact Tanzania affirms, “The training was well-organised. The facilitators were great and the contents well-articulated. Coming from the NGO sector where we are keen to establish sustainable partnerships with the private sector, we were excited to learn from the experiences of purpose-led companies. Using this knowledge, we are planning to relook our own processes. We want to be better positioned for strategic engagement with purpose-led companies active in the communities we serve”.
Owen Muzambi, Co-founder and Managing Director of Driven Advisory, South Africa, adds: “The PP Training was a timely and illuminating intervention that assisted us as an entity to refresh and reorient around our North Star. At a time when we are recovering from the effects of the pandemic and lockdown, this training proved to be an invaluable guide for the team; launching us in a new, purposeful direction”.
In summary, there were two concepts that prompted a self-examination among the select group of business leaders and entrepreneurs, assessing their own businesses and alignment to sustainable growth strategies…
The “Purpose” conversation within the context of business leadership and management is not a new chestnut. However, in the information era, the challenge is not to make business leaders and/or owners aware of the importance of Purpose, but rather encouraging them to be led with Purpose in all their commitments; bringing it to life in strategy, operations and people.
From the training, we understood that Purpose is more than a mission statement or a pledge of values. It defines an organisation’s value in society, which allows it to concurrently grow its business and emphatically impact the world. Furthermore, we learnt that Purpose must be deeply rooted within our respective organisations and the experience that is delivered.
From the above, it is crucial to know as a business leader and/or owner that Purpose is NOT Vision (What your company wants to be) and is is also not Mission (What your company wants to do). Done properly, your Business’ Purpose should be energising and inspiring; creating a shared reason for being.
Diana Kwaaba Cudjoe, Founder of FoodCourt Ghana, reflects: “Through the PP Training, I’ve gained a thorough understanding of the challenge and the requirement. Namely, businesses run with a vision and functions with a mission, however, in order to achieve its full potential, the vision and mission must be realised through a well-defined Purpose – the reason for existence. FoodCourt now has an energising and inspiring Purpose!”
CREATING SHARED VALUE (CSV)!
The PP Training really helped us to gain a better understanding of what it means to operate a purpose-led organisation; why a corporate purpose is worth having, and how to deliver on the promise of that corporate purpose by focusing on a business management concept called Shared Value.
Through the PP Training, we learnt that in our quest to become a purpose-led company, we must endeavour to become immersed in a purpose that integrates both social and environmental benefits. Furthermore, in addition to profit, we ought to have policies, programs, and practices to support our attempts towards our “Purpose potential”.
Though these are all part of the broader portfolio of values and societal engagement activities, it was evident to all of us that the most powerful practice for any purpose-led organisations is Shared Value – the most impactful enabler for any organisation.
Shared Value is a business management concept, described by Professor Michael E. Porter and Mark Kramer, as: “policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates. Shared value creation focuses on identifying and expanding the connections between societal and economic progress”.
Godwin Apenu, Co-founder of FoodCourt Ghana shared his thoughts on understanding the concept with me: “I believe that by developing business strategies using the Shared Value approach will create a sense of awareness, creativity and a results-oriented mindset”.
In the words of Chibunna Ogbonna, Co-founder and CEO of Renewcykle, Nigeria: “The Purpose Playbook Training was a great opportunity and experience for our team. Being introduced to such an unrivalled concept as ‘Shared Value’ broadened our understanding of how business should be done. The lessons and principles learnt have transformed our thinking and we are ready to build a purpose-led organisation that will transform Africa.”
I truly believe that everyone, whether you are aspiring to build a sustainable business or you are an entrepreneur who has already started your own business, can benefit from this training. I strongly recommend the Purpose Playbook Training as a valuable pathway towards your desired destination.
Brief About Author:
Andrews Akoto-Addo is a Startup Coach, an Enterprise Design Thinking Practitioner & the Business Development Lead at GrassRoots Hub – a social impact and SDGs innovation lab that provides business innovation, incubation and acceleration support to low-to-moderate income startups and SGBs in the Bono region of Ghana. He is also a Shared Value Advocate and an Ambassador of the UNLEASH Innovation Labs for SDGs – a global innovation program that gathers young people to create disruptive solutions to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).