From the CEO’s Desk: April 2019

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On 23 and 24 May 2019, we will be hosting the third annual Africa Shared Value Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. It is a major achievement on our journey to increase awareness and motivate the implementation of the Shared Value business concept across our region. It is the focal point of our everyday mission to broaden the Shared Value awareness conversations on our continent and in the process break down the borders and barriers that are preventing collective impact at scale.

This Africa Day, 25 May, it will be one year since we launched the Shared Value Africa Initiative – and it has been a year filled with stellar achievements and the continued drive to build our network. I would like to share some of our accomplishments, showing our ongoing work to take African businesses to the next level.

Our purpose is still crystal clear: we need to build ecosystems for growth, ecosystems that will bring together the public and private sectors, NGOs, NPOs and civil society. Through this network, we can orchestrate connections that will create collective impact through Shared Value and grow the economy while creating positive social and environmental impact.

On the research front, we partnered with the University of Johannesburg on a research project focusing on young entrepreneurs across the continent. This research on The Emerging Phenomenon of Social Value Creation in Africa was presented at the Social Enterprise World Forum Academic Symposium in Glasgow in September 2018. We are currently working with the Strathmore Business School in Kenya on a research initiative to establish what the state of Shared Value is on the African continent, with the initial focus on sub-Saharan, East and West Africa.

Education and awareness creation remain one of our key pillars. This kicked off in August 2018 with the first Shared Value Masterclass at the Loeries Awards Event in Durban, South Africa. This was followed by a partnership with the Johannesburg Business School (JBS), which began with a Masterclass information session on 21 February 2019. Our first Shared Value short course with the JBS will be held on 29 July 2019, and we are committed to working with business schools across the continent to deliver Shared Value short courses. We are currently in advanced discussions with institutions such as Strathmore Business School in Kenya and the University of Sierra Leone, and initiating discussions with many more.

It is important for us to work with organisations such as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) to grow our network across the continent.  We hosted Shared Value conversations and awareness events at the JSE on 23 May 2018 and co-hosted a gathering of business with the NSE on 27 February 2019 in Kenya to engage and create awareness of the importance of business identifying social problems that, when addressed through a Shared Value lens, can become profitable business opportunities.

One of the most important ways to benchmark Shared Value business success and gain recognition for innovative brand impact is through awards. The Loeries Shared Value Award category – which the Shared Value Africa Initiative will once again be involved in judging – continues to grow, with a 20% increase in entries in 2018. The Awards will take place again in August this year in South Africa, so don’t forget to submit your entries by 15 May 2018.

Our work to build Africa’s most powerful Shared Value network continues relentlessly. We were  invited by the AU/EC to join the AUC Enterprise Africa Network (EAN) and in November 2018 the working group presented the feasibility study at the AU Industrialization week in Addis Ababa. The SVAI has recently been identified by the AUC as one of the implementation agencies of the EAN, which will be rolled out in 2020. The SVAI also participated in the Ministerial Economic Development Round Table on the Social Economy with Minister Ebrahim Patel of the South African Government at the end of November last year, to share insights and identify focus areas for the policy process to inform the 2019 National Consultation. We are looking forward to the final SA Social Economy Policy.

The 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is very much part of our DNA, and we recently participated in a Roundtable for SDG Champions to discuss the SDGs Voluntary Report Network which is being implemented by UNGC on behalf of the South African government. In December 2018, the SVAI was invited to participate in the SDG Advocacy roundtable with Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, to discuss solutions for creating more awareness and implementation of the SDGs.

We are currently working on securing government support across our continent for the Shared Value business concept, as we believe that the public sector can be a catalyst for building effective private sector partnerships. It was noticed that the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned the importance of companies practising Shared Value at the Mining Indaba in February this year, as well as at a subsequent meeting. The awareness is growing!

In our journey we continuously seek thought leaders, those who believe in the value that the Shared Value business concept can bring to their organisations. These true thought leaders look past the bottom line into the future, becoming leaders that understand that it is sometimes better to identify the social issue or need and then to build the business case around it. This brings me to our Founding Members: Absa, Safaricom, Discovery, Enel and Old Mutual. Together with our Founding Members, who will be actively involved in our work, we aim to influence and shift organisations that has not yet seen the benefit in addressing their social impact and sustainability goals through Shared Value business concept.

On 21 January 2019 we announced our Shared Value Africa Initiative Africa Council of 8 at Liliesleaf. The number 8 signifies new beginning, a new order of creation, changemakers. The purpose of the SVAI Africa Council of 8 is to leverage the collective experiences, insights, networks and passion for Africa of these young African business leaders and bring it to bear on the challenges that face our continent. The Council continues to offer input and shape the SVAI agenda and work for the coming years.

There are many other milestones to talk about, and I would be happy to share them over a cup of coffee – just give us a call or drop me a line. Thank you for allowing me to share some of our accomplishments. I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to join our members and become an active Shared Value advocate. Together we are so much more powerful than alone. Our beautiful continent needs us to invest in and nurture it, and as Africans we owe it to each other and to our continent to create a better life for all together.

Onwards and upwards!
Tiekie Barnard