Strathmore University Business School (SBS) and Shared Value Africa Initiative Africa (SVAI) have partnered to deliver an executive course designed to introduce the concept of Creating Shared Value (CSV) to local African businesses, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and governmental bodies among other institutions.
CSV, a concept developed by Harvard professors Michael Porter and Mark Kramer, focuses on the interdependencies between societal progress and economic prosperity. Organizations can no longer afford to operate in silos distinct from the societies they are in. In the past, corporations have been seen to prosper at the expense of the community, often adopting value creation models centred primarily on short term profitability. CSV offers an alternative and innovative approach to conducting business.
The central proposition made by CSV is that societal problems can be sources of business opportunities and competitive advantage. In Porter & Kramer (2011) ’s seminal article on CSV, they state, “by better connecting companies’ success with societal improvement, it opens up many ways to serve new needs, gain efficiency, create differentiation, and expand markets.”
SBS and SVAI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) sealing their partnership at an event hosted by the business school, witnessed by SBS senior staff members, SVAI officials and Strathmore University students. Dr Edward Mungai, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Planning and Development at Strathmore University, reiterated the importance of the CSV concept. He states that “it is paramount that everyone understands what role CVS plays in their organizations’ strategy and functions”. Ms Tiki, director at SVAI, went on to add that “It is a big responsibility, but everyone can play a role for purpose-led organizations outdo others tenfold”. Her sentiments spoke to current organizations in Kenya who are already on this path. Dr Maria Mumbi, Lecturer at SBS, quoted the late Mr Robert ‘Bob’ Collymore, former Safaricom Chief Executive Officer, saying “business cannot succeed where society is failing”.
The MoU is focused on three core areas with the aims of engagement as follows:
The CSV course co-created by both SVAI and SBS aims to be the premier course offering on shared value in Africa. The course will be closely modelled off of Harvard University’s course offering on shared value but adapted to the contextual realities organizations working on the continent face.
Also, both SBS and SVAI will undertake extensive research to understand how local African organizations engage in CSV. The aim of the study is not only to illustrate tangible examples of how various African organizations engage with CSV but also to develop an African Framework for Shared Value.
Finally, concerning the prior point of engagement, the research will also provide several opportunities to document case studies that demonstrate examples of shared value organizations in Africa.
The event culminated in a signing of the MoU and a presentation of SVAIs’ current work in CSV. We look forward to the fruits of this partnership.