The Shared Value 101 Masterclass: A Retrospective

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Whether you are running a large or small business, you have the same issues to contend with: greater expectations of the stakeholders, rising consumer power in the digital information age, environmental constraints, economic uncertainty, and social uncertainty on rising income inequality.

 Doing business today is quite different from the past. A critical business tool needed to survive in today’s business is integrated thinking. This extends strategy and daily management beyond the pure financial to encompass the social and environmental factors that will future-proof your company for the 21st   Century.

Creating Shared Value must be the most sensible business strategy that encompasses integrated thinking by creating economic value for an organisation (Profit), and simultaneously creating value for society (Impact).

While the business concept of Shared Value has been successfully practiced internationally for many years, it remains relatively new to organisations on the African continent. Through its Masterclasses, the Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI) has created a platform for organisations to empower themselves with the broad understanding of this invaluable concept.

The Masterclass is a great opportunity for anyone new to the subject to get an insightful and practical understanding of the definition and applications that could be applied. Because there is no “one size fits all” solution, the working session enables robust debate from various business disciplines. Having attended more than one class, I would certainly recommend repeat attendance as the mix of delegates shapes the conversation and enhances the learning and take out.

The Shared Value 101 Masterclass ahead of the recent Summit held in Nairobi was no exception. Facilitated by the personable Immaculata Segooa, who is a Shared Value Advocate and extremely knowledgeable on the subject, the content and practical examples used to demonstrate the nuances between CSR and CSV are easily grasped and beautifully articulated. Ms. Seegoa highlighted the importance of partnerships and collaboration, more specifically where this interaction has a shared purpose and can feed into an ecosystem that benefits a broader cause.

Delegates had mixed views on whether the concept of Shared Value can be included in every business, with a specific question on the Alcohol and Tobacco sector. Reference was made to the introduction of the “smoke free” cigarette by Phillip Morris, namely IQOS. The goal for this innovation was “to convert any adult smoker who would otherwise keep smoking, to a smoke free product which in turn substantially reduces the risk of tobacco related diseases. Similarly, one can make reference to the introduction of “Alcohol Free” beers by AbInbev (such as the Castle Non-Alcoholic Beer) and organisations such as Brauerei Beck & Co. (Becks Blue).

Shared Value Advocate and key speaker, Dr Amit Kapoor, Chair of the Shared Value Initiative India, commented that ‘democracy’ as we know it is under siege, as we are living in an age where we see a rise of populist leaders, who are gaining support through the huge disparity between the “haves and have-nots”. Business can no longer pretend that it sits on the side-lines of society – we must become active citizens.

An additional key takeout focussed on the lack of proactivity from involvement of Government in promoting and support Shared Value initiatives.

Dr Amit Kapoor further stated that smaller enterprises have a bigger opportunity and willingness for the inclusion of Shared Value initiatives, whereas larger corporations are often faced with historical restraints.

An added benefit is the valuable networking opportunity which encourages partnerships and collaboration for organisations with a common goal – doing ‘business for the sake of business’ is no longer an option and advocacy for creating Shared Value is gaining momentum across the continent.

This short and impactful Masterclass offered by the SVAI is a must for every organisation wishing to take the first step in future-proofing their business by introducing the concept of Shared Value.

Adelaide McKelvey is the group sales and marketing director for Sub-Saharan Africa at JCDecaux, and writes in her personal capacity.