Entries in Social Business (19)


Mars and Others Share Findings on Why Doing “Good” is Good for Business at Oxford’s Said School of Business

Mutuality has been at the very heart of Mars since Forest Mars, Sr. first articulated it as the objective of the business. Last week, Mars, and partner Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, sponsored an event that brought companies together to share how businesses that create mutual benefits for themselves and others can be more successful than businesses focused only on profit.

More than 500 business leaders, policy makers, NGOs, students and faculty came together at the Responsible Business Forum, a joint partnership between Saïd Business School and Mars, to learn more about what determines, or undermines, a responsible business. Leaders from Mars—including Mars Catalyst Managing Director Bruno Roche, Mars Global Chocolate President Jean-Christophe Flatin, Wrigley Global President Martin Radvan—were joined by Oxford faculty and leaders from other like-minded companies, to share case studies and insights that explore how companies can and are seeking to adopt more responsible businesses practices.

Ian Burton, Regional President of Wrigley Europe, Jay Jakub, Senior Director of External Research for Mars Catalyst, Yassine El Ouarzazi, Demand Lab Director for Mars Catalyst and Clara Shen, Emerging Market Director for Mars Catalyst, were among the Mars leaders who presented case studies. Importantly, the case studies and perspectives across businesses also showed both successes and failures as sources of learning. The partnership between Mars and the Saïd Business School dates back to 2014, when the two first joined forces to explore the potential for building new business models based on mutuality.

Jean Christophe Flatin opened a panel on “Business Perspectives” about how mutuality guides Mars Chocolate’s actions and plays a central role in the challenges we face in the cocoa sector.

“There is no chocolate without cocoa. Cocoa is a very fragile crop that has barely modernized in the past 400 centuries and it is grown by single family farmers,” said Jean-Christophe. “The business challenge is the gap between worldwide consumers of great-tasting chocolate and single family farms in some of the poorest areas of the world. To protect and nurture our business we need to be transformation agents of this crop and go beyond traditional business boundaries.”

Wrigley President Martin Radvan also shared with the group how mutuality has been an ever-present part of his 30-year career journey.

“It certainly has been a journey,” said Martin. “From the start it was my experience as an Associate and the experiences I got to have seeing the impact business can have just by doing business. I’m proud and personally humbled by the initiatives I’ve seen over the course of my career but we are just scratching the surface, and I’m passionate that the journey continue.”

Mars Catalyst managing director Bruno Roche spoke about the role of business in repairing the world and the importance of developing a new management theory and training a new breed of business leaders.

“Business is one of the strongest forces in today’s world to emancipate people and communities and to address environmental issues,” said Bruno. “We are excited by the first insights that show that Mutuality can be managed rigorously with simple metrics and can drive superior business performance holistically. But this is just the beginning…the intent going forward is to continue to research this topic and create a broader platform where other companies and academic institutions can share their learnings and experiences — in a spirit of humility and learning from each other — to advance the collective understanding of how to drive mutuality in business.”

-- Gabrielle Braswell


Catalyst and Saïd Business School Forum: Can you do well by doing good?

Mars Catalyst and Oxford's Said School of Business are pleased to host an event that examines the question of whether you can ever really do well as a business by doing good.  Details of the event can be found on our Events page, as well as the SBS website, and we will post more information here in the lead up to the forum.

The Responsible Business Forum is part of a joint research programme launched in 2014 between Saïd Business School and the Catalyst think-tank at Mars Inc., the global food and beverage company, to co-develop a business management theory for the Economics of Mutuality with corresponding teaching curriculum, new management practices and business case studies.

This uniquely insightful forum will tackle the tough questions of companies producing and selling good products badly and bad products well, providing a comprehensive evidence-based overview of how companies can and are seeking to become more responsible and where they succeed, or fail.


No compromises: profitable business model, while serving the poor?

As part of the Economics of Mutuality, we are very interested in business models that do well by doing good. In a recent article in Bloomberg Business, M-Kopa Solar's founders outline their "no trade-offs" approach to social business and profitability.

M-Kopa sells solar lighting and battery charging systems to rural African customers, most of whom rely on ancient, expensive, and "dirty" sources for their light and power. The company’s power system includes a solar panel, two LED bulbs, an LED flashlight, a rechargeable radio, and adaptors for charging a phone. In addition to the environmental benefits, M-Kopa estimates that it's customers can save about $750 over four years by switching to solar.

Company founders Nick Hughes and Jesse Moore envisioned building a company based on three conditions:

  • It had to involve mobile technology, an area in which they both had experience;
  • It had to solve a significant pain point for the very poor; and
  • It had to have the potential to become a billion-dollar business.

We think it’s possible to build a business with no trade-offs. We can benefit the environment. Our customers will be better off. And we’ll get richer. We all can win.” -- Jesse Moore

Because the company only requires a small down payment on their systems, collecting a $0.45 daily payment for one year to make up the difference, M-Kopa operates much like a finance business. Counterintuitively, the company has found that its poorest customers—those who rely on the system as their only source of electricity—make the best credit risks. “If you take the long-term view and if you treat low-income people as customers, not charity cases, you can change the world,” Moore says.

-- Yan Toh


Social entrepreneurship – new management theory or new marketing buzzword?

Social entrepreneurs, social enterprises – you’d be hard-pressed not to find these terms in recent headlines. Many businesses are starting to turn their attention and their dollars towards making a social impact. But are these terms simply new marketing buzzwords or part of a new management theory set to transform the corporate world?

In a recent Forbes article, Willy Foote, CEO and founder of Root Capital, a non-profit agricultural lender building rural prosperity in developing markets, set out to determine the difference between social entrepreneurship as a marketing buzzword and as a true management theory.

Foote turns to Sally Osberg and Roger Martin, experts in the field. Osberg, president and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, and Martin, a former dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and a Skoll Foundation board member, co-authored the book Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works.

The book explains that in its true form, social entrepreneurship doesn’t aim to replace an existing broken system. Rather, the enterprise takes direct action by leaving the broken system in place, with the ultimate goal being to transform it permanently into a superior and stable system. Take small-scale farmers in developing markets for example. A true social enterprise doesn’t aim to replace the existing system of workers, operations and supply chain management. Rather, the goal becomes providing financing and training so jobs are created and incomes increased, and as a result, related issues such as food insecurity, emigration and youth unemployment are addressed. A true social enterprise recognizes that challenges won't be solved overnight and that changing equilibrium takes time and patience. To become a true social enterprise, Osberg and Martin offer the following four-step management-style approach:

•    Understand the system in its current state;

•    Envision a future state;

•    Build a sustainable model for achieving the future state; and

•    Scale the model appropriately.



Ashoka on ingredients for social intrepreneurship

We found a recent Forbes article on social intrepreneurship and changemaker companies interesting.

According to Ashoka, a changemaker company, one that is inclusive, adaptive and agile, is the "good soil" that is needed for social intrapreneurship to succeed. A changemaker company is a corporate ecosystem that nurtures new ideas, enables connections with external networks of co-creators, and allows for all employees to understand, recognize and engage in social innovation.

The changemaker company, Ashoka argues, incorporates the following three components:

  • A strong mandate and executive alignment towards creating social value, coupled with institutional infrastructure that prioritizes training and talent development needed for social innovation;
  • Integration of social impact objectives directly into corporate strategy, addressing the "charity" stigma associated with social good initiatives that generate revenue; and
  • Professional development and social impact engagement opportunities offered to employees at different levels of the organization, which include training in problem solving, empathy, innovation, resilience and creativity.

What are your thoughts -- are there other requirements for companies to be changemakers and/or foster social innovation? What about the role of sustainable performance?