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Since the formation of the Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI), we have worked at break-neck speed on creating and broadening a pan-African network of organisations focused on driving social change on our continent through motivating, working toward and managing change at scale on our continent.

With this in mind, a warm welcome to the new organisations that have recently joined the SVAI. We are delighted to have you on board. You are now core parts of a like-minded group of companies and organisations whose leadership join you in believing in the connection between social progress and business success.

Why is a network of like-minded organisations a catalyst for change at scale on the continent? Social problems arise and persist because of a complex combination of actions and omissions by players in all sectors—and therefore can be solved only by the coordinated efforts of those players, from businesses to government agencies, charitable organisations and members of affected populations.

This means that influencing and effecting positive change requires the competencies, assets, market presence and market penetration of a range of partners. These may include other companies, non-profit groups, technical providers, government units and education institutions.

John Kania & Mark Kramer argue that business has a significant role to play, having the skills and experience to coordinate large-scale activity across groups comprising public, private and non-profit sector partners.

However, business often misses out on collaborative opportunities, thus missing avenues for profit growth. Companies are accustomed to thinking of strategy in terms of the activities under their direct control. Moreover, they encounter obstacles:

  • They may be viewed as not having the legitimacy to initiate social progress;
  • They may not wish to bear the costs for improving the market ecosystem, which often improves conditions for competitors, given rivals will share the benefits; and
  • Most companies separate social problems from core operations and strategy.

While inter-organisational networks are a key driver of creating Shared Value, why should businesses be interested in being part of the network? First, companies starting on the Shared Value journey frequently discover the limitation of attempting to pursue shared value strategies as individual companies. Impact is limited by societal restrictions as well as the limitations of its operations. Second, companies that turn to collective impact often find economic opportunities that their competitors miss.

Businesses bring essential assets to collective-impact efforts. They know how to define and achieve objectives within a limited time and budget. They understand change management and the art of negotiation. And corporate pragmatism, accountability, and data-driven decision making can cut through the red tape and ideological disagreements that often stymie governments and NGOs.

So what journey should companies follow to identify how their purpose leads to the collaboration key to success?

  • Every business encounters societal challenges that threaten its sustainability. Ask yourself, what are the key societal challenges that intersect your business?
  • Explore the networks of organisations working on the societal challenge your organisation faces. Highlight government players, non-profits and organisations already working on the issue and find the central players.
  • Build a strategy for collaborating in inter-organisational networks by assessing what it would take for your organisation to be a more effective player and leader in the network.
  • Call us to discuss particularly pressing challenges.

Networking and learning opportunities this month

This month join us for the final CEO Dialogue of 2020, themed AfCFTA: Making Africa Realise its Potential Globally – taking place on 19 November 2020. Register here.

Join our webinar In Conversation With Mark Kramer: Connecting Shared Value to Shareholder Value on 3 December at the Africa webinar about work to integrate impact measurements. Learn about the hybrid measurement concept and what it will mean for your business. The measurement approach combines social and environmental impact with standard measures of financial performance. Book your seat here.

Attend the GRI/Enel Africa Regional Roundtable at 11.00 SAST on 5 November 2020, Empowering Sustainable Decisions. This free event explores how COVID-19 is impacting the efforts of companies to support the Sustainable Development Goals and how a sustainable recovery phase can support the achievement of these global goals. Go to this registration link to attend.

G20 debt relief

Over the past few weeks, ONE supporters around the world have campaigned to convince both the G20 and the World Bank to suspend debt repayments for the world’s most vulnerable countries.

G20 leaders have agreed to suspend debt repayments for a further six months, accepting that they must do more for the world’s most vulnerable countries. This will free up crucial resources for the world’s most vulnerable countries to continue fighting against this pandemic. Unfortunately, the World Bank didn’t agree to follow suit.

The commitment made by the G20 shows what’s possible when citizens around the world come together, but this is just the start. We need to keep up the pressure