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Collective Impact and Africa’s Business Growth to Take Centre Stage at 2019 Africa Shared Value Summit in Nairobi

Africa’s leading Shared Value event is coming to Nairobi, Kenya, for the first time in 2019. Taking place from 23-24 May 2019, the event will focus on the importance of building Shared Value ecosystems in Africa to drive both economic benefit and social development at scale.

As the Shared Value movement continues to grow on the African continent, it is becoming increasingly clear that the business model can also serve as an umbrella term that encompasses some of the business world’s trending buzzwords: impact investing, collective impact, and sustainable capitalism all fall within the Shared Value tenet of rethinking business’s role in addressing social challenges. In addition to the business benefit of optimising the value chain, reaching untapped markets and leveraging external resources, Shared Value enables businesses to contribute to the achievement of inclusive growth and face societal and environmental challenges head on.

Business cannot be a passive observer. Its sustainability and growth – indeed, its long-term survival – depends upon its ability to make the strategic shift. To think and work differently. To embrace profit with purpose.

Shared Value invites businesses to rethink their relationship with social impact. “We were taught by classical economics that social and environmental issues are externalities,” noted Mark Kramer, Co-Founder and MD at FSG and co-author of the foundational Harvard Business Review article that first outlined the Shared Value concept, at the 2018 Africa Shared Value Summit. “[T]he reality is, social and environmental issues are business opportunities, and when companies approach them as a business opportunity, they bring resources, and skills, and commitment that we do not see when they approach it as corporate social investment.”

Africa’s social and environmental challenges cross border lines and cultures, requiring solutions that do the same. The time has come to move past the inward-facing “me-first” business approach into a new era of “we-first” business, building Shared Value ecosystems that deliver sustainable profit and benefit to local communities, the environment, and society at large. Collaboration is the key to driving lasting impact at scale – as the oft-quoted proverb states, “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”. In order to create impact at scale, it is imperative to harness the power of the collective, ensuring that all actors are focused on achieving the same goals, share knowledge, and avoid duplication of effort.

The theme for next year’s Summit speaks to the need for African businesses to move beyond parochial concerns to drive inclusive economic growth across the whole continent. The first of the five key elements of collective impact, as laid out in a Stanford Social Innovation Review article co-authored by Kramer, is the common agenda. Every action that flows from this shared understanding of the problem and cooperative systemic action to solve it needs to be driven by a coordinating “backbone organisation”, which is essentially one of the functions of the Shared Value Africa Initiative, organisers of the Summit in collaboration with South African Shared Value consultancy Shift Social Development.

As with previous Summits, purposeful alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be a major theme. “We need to be tri-sectoral athletes in the pursuit of the SDGs,” noted James Mwangi, Executive Director of Dalberg Group, speaking on the second day of the 2018 Summit. “We need to work across the public, the private and the social sector, in harmony and in coordination.” This emphasises the need for businesses to create partnerships, both with other businesses and with NGOs, government departments, and other public sector or civil society organisations, in order to leverage their insights and frameworks to create change and drive consumer engagement more effectively.

Bookings for the 2019 Summit are open – visit www.africasharedvaluesummit.com to secure your seat. Stay in the know with updates on speakers and more by following the Africa Shared Value Summit on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or by signing up to the newsletter on the website.