Why is it of strategic highest importance for one of the largest private education companies to deliver cost effective quality education for the world’s children and youth in developed and developing countries alike? Why is efficient social integration an essential enabler for a long-term sustainable business growth strategy for a private football club? Why should consumer-facing companies turn to aid organizations when developing their marketing, distribution, or retailing infrastructure strategies in developing economies?
There are many reasons to why we see some enlightened, brave, and innovative executive leaders across different sectors slowly putting sustainability at the core of their organisations through applying collaborative, cross-sector approaches.
One reason is the rapidly emerging new breed of potential consumers and workforce who make value driven decision and demand sustainable products, services and organizations, not just socially responsible ones. They are aware of and care about pressing social challenges worldwide, and the pursuit to maximize impact shapes all of their thinking and choices. To attract and reach the enormous potential of this fast growing generation it becomes indispensable for the private education company to be part of the solution to development and education challenges. The business case is no longer a moral issue.
This is why executives of one of the largest private education companies should create measurable business value by identifying and addressing social problems that intersect with their core business.
Another reason for executive leaders to put sustainability at the core of its business analysis is when social problems create risks and opportunities to long-term business growth. The increasing number of migrants, together with an inefficient social integration policy, and an inflamed debate that builds up grievances and encourages racism is an example of this. The growing racism problem can rapidly turn into various kinds of risks for private football clubs and the industry as a whole; costs for partial stadium closures, fines, abandoned matches, potential loss of sponsors and difficulties in acquiring new ones etc. Risks that are becoming more eminent since the stakeholders, partially belonging to the new generation discussed above, require more tangible action in the field of sustainability management. At the same time the situation offers the business opportunity to turn the organization into a national and international first mover and benchmark of sustainable management.
This is why executives of the private football club should become the lead in a cross- sector collaboration making football a tool for social integration.
Additionally, through their long-time presence in developing countries, NGOs have gained market expertise, legitimacy with clients/customers, civil society players and governments, as well as access to local expertise and sourcing and distribution systems.
This puts them in a unique position to offer reliable market data and insight to clients and partners such as B2C SME’s looking for growth opportunities in developing markets; companies interesting in inclusive business, organizations offering internalization services, marketing companies, consulting companies etc. NGOs can play a key role in finding new solutions to the global disruption of traditional marketing (linguistic diversity and low literacy rate, differences in consumer behaviour, and low data availability and quality). One way for executive leaders of NGOs to turn their organizations into an indispensable and attractive partner again is to identify and leverage their comparative advantages, and seize the above business opportunities by developing new products and services. Since consumer insight can be so difficult to generate in developing countries, those companies that assure the consumer insight advantage will outperform those that do not.
This is why executive leaders of companies considering a market entry in developing countries should partner with NGOs. The payoff for the extra effort will be real and enduring.
Any collaboration must make sense for all parties, and enlightened self-interest is the only genuinely sustainable motive
The phenomenon of a cross-sector convergence of solutions to business sustainability and development challenges generates the need of a neutral actor being able to efficiently map, brokerage, manage and capacitate potential partnerships between actors traditionally having different and sometimes opposite visions, goals, objectives, cultures, business models and leadership.
Only when partners jointly identify problems faced, begin to understand and appreciate each other’s comparative advantages, and develop market-based and innovative solutions, will cross-sector partnerships lead to meaningful and sustainable solutions. Any collaboration must make sense for all parties, and enlightened self-interest is the only genuinely sustainable motive.
In various countries around the world skilled professionals are starting to offer services around cross sector partnership brokering, design, formation and management. These partnership facilitators/consultants can be found within independent brokers, niche consultancies, or specialist departments within major consultancies (e.g. FSG, Bain, ADP, PwC, KPMG, and BCG).
In early 2015, the niche consultancy A future – business minded development consulting was created in Italy, offering services around cross sector partnership brokering, design, formation and management. Similar organizations can be found in the US, Denmark ad Canada.
The first step in A future’s business model is to define the context and different dimensions of the problem, secondly to understand which stakeholders are part of the problem/solution, thirdly to design the optimal partnership, and finally to approach the partners. A future’s network of like-minded development consultants spread out around the world working in a collaborative on-demand consulting model enables A future to put together tailored teams for each project reflecting the required international skills and expertise, on the ground knowledge, and socio-cultural understanding while keeping indirect costs to a minimum.
Amelie Reuterskiöld Franchin is the Founder & Director A future