From the CEO’s desk

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One thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear is that corporate spin about vision and purpose will no longer work. Investors, clients and employees want evidence that businesses really have thought through, understand and are implementing their social purpose. How change should happen within a company is something we are working on with several of our members.

At Shared Value Africa Initiative, this period has necessitated a major shift in operations. The easy part was the move to home offices; systems were set up in the first weeks of lockdown. More challenging has been the impact to purpose, strategy and some operations. Fortunately, we had started an internal strategic review in early 2020. The pandemic required another revision of our purpose – particularly how we work with our network.

Events, seminars and meetings that happened throughout the continent pre-COVID have moved online. As a network organisation, that has impacted the core of what we do. Innovation has been rewarding, but it has not been easy. Given that the same process has affected all SVAI members, acting on requests to continue virtual discussions, that came from participants at last month’s Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit, has been all the more urgent.

For that reason, we kick off our CEO Dialogue series with co-host Strathmore Business School on 6 August. An article in this newsletter talks about our Youth Forums, also a proposal by participants of the Summit. SVAI CEO Tiekie Barnard is speaking at a range of webinars soon including Social Impact during a Pandemic on Friday 31 July 2020, offered with the Vega School in collaboration with KZN Invest, and a fascinating discussion on How we measure the social impact of Shared Value with Silicon Valley-based SoPact Founder and President Unmesh Sheth on 12 August.

We are also pleased to be co-hosting a virtual dialogue on unpacking the implementation barriers, benefits and opportunities of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with partner Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, which may very well hold the key to economic recovery and growth in Africa. This debate takes place on Thursday, 13 August.