Archive for the ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ Category


Max Oliva, Associate Director, Social Impact Management
HBS Working Knowledge has just interviewed Professor Kasturi (Kash) Rangan on his latest book, Business Solutions for the Global Poor, which includes the conclusions of the December 2005 Conference on Global Poverty: Business Solutions and Approaches.
“To the degree that these ventures empower the poor—either by improving their quality of life (clean water, for example), providing them with productivity tools and services (cell phones, for example), or creating jobs—that’s where the goals of poverty reduction and economic profit can align.”
According to Kash Rangan, there are three major challenges when considering the BoP:
• Cultural distance between corporate decision makers and the poor
• Lack of infrastructure in poor markets that can make operating at the base of the pyramid difficult, and potentially costly.
• Companies are challenged to find ways to bring BOP initiatives to scale and sustainability within the time frames dictated by traditional corporate targets. In many BOP ventures, the true profit driver lies in volume rather than in profit margins
Read the whole Q&A session here.
Interested in Improving Health for the Poor?, read the Q&A session with HBS Professor Michael Chu.
Last but not least, the Q&A session in regards to The Corporate Value Shift with Professor Lynn Paine, who argues that companies can’t consider themselves amoral or apart from society anymore—that the relationship between companies and society at large necessitates bringing a moral dimension to decision making.


Davos conversation.gif
Want an insiders view of Davos? Visit Loic Lemeurs’ blog. Interviews to participants like Mel Young, from Homeless Football World Cup, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, photographer and environment Activist and many others…
Much better, read Loic and many others at the official forumblog.
Other blogs include:
The Davos’ conversation.
The FT in Davos Blog.
The WSJ in Davos.
How’s your french? Try Le Monde.
The BBC in Davos.


Max Oliva, Associate Director, Social Impact Management
World Economic Forum 2.jpg
Don’t miss the chance that technology has brought in enabling you to follow conversations which make a difference. How about sharing the table and most importantly, the conversation on The Shifting Power Equation with E. Neville Isdell, Angela Merkel, Sunil Bharti Mittal, and Eric Schmidt…
Here are some conversations which might also interest you:
Climate Change: A Call to Action with Montek S. Ahluwalia, John McCain, Zhang Xiaoqiang, and Martin Wolf
Billions in Development Aid: What Are the Results? with William Easterly, Jakaya M. Kikwete and Maria Ramos
Sustainable Energy Consumption: Does Anyone Care? with Fatih Birol, Emanuel Höhener, C. S. Kiang and Christine Maier
A Business Manifesto for Globalization with Lord Browne of Madingley, Patrick Cescau, Ian E. L. Davis, James Dimon, Carlos Ghosn, James J. Schiro and Joseph E. Stiglitz
Scaling Innovation in Foreign Aid with William Easterly, William H. Gates III, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Paul D. Wolfowitz and Fareed Zakaria
A Conversation with the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón-Hinojosa (this is of personal nature, forgive my partiality on internal affairs…)
Delivering on the Promise of Africa with Tony Blair, Bono, William H. Gates III, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Thabo Mbeki, Kumi Naidoo and Sadako Ogata
Frozen Trade Talks and the Need for Progress with Pascal Lamy, Doris Leuthard, Peter Mandelson, and Susan Schwab
Don’t miss the opportunity. I have as many of you a quite busy agenda. Despite of this, I would have gone to Davos if invited, perhaps next year… but for this year, missing these conversations which help build speakers and attendants’ accountability certainly has a stake at setting this years global agenda.
Join the conversations here.


Max Oliva, Associate Director, Social Impact Management
M&S.gifMarks & Spencer has just announced “Plan A”, a business-wide £200m “eco-plan” which will have an impact on every part of M&S’ operations over the next five years. The 100-point plan means that by 2012 M&S will:
• become carbon neutral
• send no waste to landfill
• extend sustainable sourcing
• set new standards in ethical trading
• help customers and employees live a healthier lifestyle

There are strong arguments which in the best of cases put into debate some of their initiatives, as an example that of ethical food. The Economist looks further into this issue and brings a well developed and challenging position in regards to voting with your trolley; at the same time, third parties offer a counter version of the subject, which the New York Times has carefuly brought together.
Whatever the assessment made, and the conversation is still an ongoing one, it is clear that M&S bet in regards to corporate responsibility and sustainability is a strong one, one through which their customers will differentiate them from the rest. Some remarks made by Stuart Rose, CEO of M&S are the following:
PlanA M&S.jpg
“We will become carbon neutral, only using offsetting as a last resort; we will ensure that none of our clothing or packaging needs to be thrown away; much of our polyester clothing will be made from recycled plastic bottles instead of oil and every year we will sell over 20 million garments made from Fairtrade cotton.
“We will clearly label the food we import by air; UK, regional and local food sourcing will be a priority and we will trial the use of food waste to power our stores. We will do this without passing on the extra cost to our customers.”
“We will also help our suppliers and customers to change their behaviour. Because we are own-brand our influence extends to over 2,000 factories, 10,000 farms and 250,000 workers, as well as millions of customers visiting over 500 stores in the UK.”
“This is a deliberately ambitious and, in some areas, difficult plan. We don’t have all the answers but we are determined to work with our suppliers, partners and Government to make this happen. Doing anything less is not an option.”
Marks & Spencer is making a clear move towards what on their own words, their customers are asking them to do. It is not only the right thing to do, but the only way to do business.
“If every retailer in Britain followed Marks & Spencer’s lead it would be a major step forward in meeting the challenge of creating a sustainable society.” Blake Lee-Harwood, Campaign Director, Greenpeace UK

Read more…


Max Oliva, Associate Director, Social Impact Management
World Economic Forum 2.jpg
Time’s Person of the Year is YOU. The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. And we didn’t just watch, we also worked. Its also time to take part on conversations that matter and to engage in actions that make a difference.
The World Economic Forum, which will take place January 24-28th, will use new web applications which will extend the discussions at the Annual Meeting 2007 to a much wider audience. The debates and discussions at Davos will be open to the general public via traditional broadcast channels, but also via webcasts, podcasts and for the first time, vodcasts.
The Forum will webcast over 50 of the 220 sessions. 31 of the sessions will be webcast live and a further 20 will be available for download once the session is over. All webcasts will be available also as pod- and vodcasts for download from Google video. All webcasts and vodcasts can be accessed here.
If you can physically join the event don’t miss the chance. If you were not invited, do join the conversations, it will definitely be worth your while.
…Still’s never been a time when both private citizens and public officials had the potential to shape a world of peace and prosperity. Could we screw it up if we let AIDS eat us alive? Yes. Could we go back to an ice age if we don’t do something about global warming? Absolutely.
…we’re building something we never had to build before so, don’t be discouraged and don’t use your political disappointments as an excuse to avoid personal commitment. Bill Clinton

Need to capture the essence of the annual meeting?
Plan your schedule in accordance to the Programme.
Join the Davos Conversation.


Max Oliva, Associate Director, Social Impact Management
2006 was a year full of highlights in corporate responsibility and sustainability. Going from a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to international awareness on global warming, it certainly was a year which proved the tipping point in these conversations. Here are some of the most important things that happened in 2006:
Drummer Boy Small.jpgMuhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank win the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize
UN Principles for Responsible Investment Launched
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
An Inconvenient Truth: Al Gore
The Clinton Global Initiative and more than US$7 billion in Global Aid
IFC’s Lighting the Bottom of the Pyramid
Five big stories on Global Health
Carbon Neutral is “Word of the year”
The 2007 perspective looks even more promising, lets build on this conversation…


Santiago Iñiguez, Dean and Professor of Strategy
Referring to the text about TED Global, November 30, I should mention a presentation made by professor Hans Rosling, that concerns Africa and its growth, that was made at TED and more recently in Paris at LeWeb3.
Here is the link to his presentation
“Hans Rosling is professor of international health at Sweden’s world-renowned Karolinska Institute, and founder of Gapminder, a non-profit that brings vital global data to life. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, he debunks a few myths about the “developing” world. (Recorded February, 2006 in Monterey, CA.)”
Technorati Tags:


Harvard Business Review has just published on their December issue two great articles together with an editorial and material which relates to Strategy and Society: The Link between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility and to Disruptive Innovation for Social Change. The first is authored by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer and the former by Clayton M. Christensen and others.
I sincerley recommend purchasing these articles or moreover, December’s issue of HBR; both CSR and social innovation are very well envisioned, together with an editorial and Michael Porter’s Mapping Social Opportunities, which helps you visualize how an organization can set a successful CSR agenda which maximizes social benefit while making business sense.
Michael Porter.jpg
Here’s an abstract of Strategy and Society: The Link between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility:
Governments, activists, and the media have become adept at holding companies to account for the social consequences of their actions. In response, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has emerged as an inescapable priority for business leaders in every country. Frequently, though, CSR efforts are counterproductive, for two reasons. First, they pit business against society, when in reality the two are interdependent. Second, they pressure companies to think of corporate social responsibility in generic ways instead of in the way most appropriate to their individual strategies. The fact is, the prevailing approaches to CSR are so disconnected from strategy as to obscure many great opportunities for companies to benefit society. What a terrible waste. If corporations were to analyze their opportunities for social responsibility using the same frameworks that guide their core business choices, they would discover, as Whole Foods Market, Toyota, and Volvo have done, that CSR can be much more than a cost, a constraint, or a charitable deed—it can be a potent source of innovation and competitive advantage. In this article, Michael Porter and Mark Kramer propose a fundamentally new way to look at the relationship between business and society that does not treat corporate growth and social welfare as a zero-sum game. They introduce a framework that individual companies can use to identify the social consequences of their actions; to discover opportunities to benefit society and themselves by strengthening the competitive context in which they operate; to determine which CSR initiatives they should address; and to find the most effective ways of doing so. Perceiving social responsibility as an opportunity rather than as damage control or a PR campaign requires dramatically different thinking—a mind-set, the authors warn, that will become increasingly important to competitive success.
Purchase this article.
Here’s an abstract of Disruptive Innovation for Social Change:
Countries, organizations, and individuals around the globe spend aggressively to solve social problems, but these efforts often fail to deliver. Misdirected investment is the primary reason for that failure. Most of the money earmarked for social initiatives goes to organizations that are structured to support specific groups of recipients, often with sophisticated solutions. Such organizations rarely reach the broader populations that could be served by simpler alternatives. There is, however, an effective way to get to those underserved populations. The authors call it “catalytic innovation.” Based on Clayton Christensen’s disruptive-innovation model, catalytic innovations challenge organizational incumbents by offering simpler, good-enough solutions aimed at underserved groups. Unlike disruptive innovations, though, catalytic innovations are focused on creating social change. Catalytic innovators are defined by five distinct qualities. First, they create social change through scaling and replication. Second, they meet a need that is either overserved (that is, the existing solution is more complex than necessary for many people) or not served at all. Third, the products and services they offer are simpler and cheaper than alternatives, but recipients view them as good enough. Fourth, they bring in resources in ways that initially seem unattractive to incumbents. And fifth, they are often ignored, put down, or even discouraged by existing organizations, which don’t see the catalytic innovators’ solutions as viable. As the authors show through examples in health care, education, and economic development, both nonprofit and for-profit groups are finding ways to create catalytic innovation that drives social change.
Purchase this article.
Interested in this subject? You should also read The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy.


Max Oliva, Associate Director, Social Impact Management
Acumen Fund.gif
The Acumen Fund is trying to create an “entrepreneurial bench” of top talent with strong financial and operational skills as well as the moral imagination to build appropriate enterprises with local stakeholders. Through the Acumen Fund Fellows Program, they have identified and developed in their own words “some of the world’s next generation of leaders”.
Acumen Fund Story2.jpg
They have just announced a call for extraordinary individuals to build the Acumen Fund Fellows class of 2008, a program which provides them with a unique opportunity to use their skills to effect real social change with our portfolio organizations in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, India and Pakistan, and to build lasting relationships with other like-minded individuals. Fellows will spend one year working with their team and with local entrepreneurs, gaining intensive experience in price performance, logistics, distribution systems, scaling and innovative technology. Fellows will learn and apply these skills while enjoying an unusual level of responsibility both at Acumen Fund and within our portfolio organizations.
Ideal fellows include those who have already decided on a career in venture philanthropy, those who are seeking a career at the highest levels in the corporate world but want to better understand and have an impact on problems of global poverty, and budding social entrepreneurs who want to learn about managing organizations in the most demanding settings.
The application’s deadline is January 31, 2007, having the selection phase by mid-April and the program beginning in September. You can find more information and application guidelines at Acumen Fund.
Apply now.
Learn more about the Fellows Program.
Acumen Fund and Social Entrepreneurship in Action.


Max Oliva, Associate Director, Social Impact Management
Global Fund Logo.gif
The Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has around $10bn raised money to fight these diseases, has recently held its 14th board meeting. It’s interesting to see the views from different stakeholders in regards to this meeting in order to make an assessment of their work. Although it has a very challenging future, being results focused, governance and other methods make it a learning organization which allows them to improve their processes and methodology on an ongoing basis.
According to the Financial Times, “its governance structure, which offers board seats to developing nations and non-governmental groups as well as donor nations and the private sector, is one of the more pioneering aspects of its operation. It is designed to provide “ownership” to recipients as well as donors, encouraging them to be more responsive and effective.” It has however challenging issues which it must still tackle.
They have planned a Five-Year Evaluation which will be implemented under the guidance of the TERG. It is framed by a set of three overarching questions related to the organizational efficiency of the Global Fund; the effectiveness of the Global Fund partner environment; and the impact of the Global Fund on the three diseases. This report will be ready in 2008.
Africa Map.jpg
“Four years ago, almost nobody in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world was receiving treatment. That well over one million people with AIDS are on now on treatment through the support of Global Fund is a remarkable achievement,” Professor Richard Feachem, Executive Director of the Global Fund.
Feel like contributing with your knowledge? How about taking part on the Five Year Evaluation of the Global Fund? You have until January 15th, 2007.
Feel more committed? They are recruiting!
See a very compelling video by Kristen Ashburn, who has photographed the impact of AIDS in southern Africa in case you still need a small motivational push…

We use both our own and third-party cookies to enhance our services and to offer you the content that most suits your preferences by analysing your browsing habits. Your continued use of the site means that you accept these cookies. You may change your settings and obtain more information here. Accept