MANAGING in the

NEW WORLD

Event: Shared Value Strategy Summit

 

This summit was organized by the Shared Value Institute (SVI) which is a global think-tank to promote ethical business practices through international collaboration. The Gurugram based Institute of Competitiveness is the Indian arm which handles SVI initiatives within the country. The SVI is very particular to ascertain that it is the next stage beyond philanthropy or CSR which encompasses profit driven business practices conducted in ethical manner.

This write-up details the discussions held during this summit so that global best practices can be applied to the Indian context and business environment.

The summit began with a lavish Networking Breakfast and Tea in the morning. This enabled the delegates to get to know each other as best as possible. Many even discussed possible collaborations between their various work assignments.

Welcome Address

The welcome address was given by the host for the day – Mr. Amit Kapoor who is the Honorary Chairman of the Institute of Competitiveness. He introduced the agenda for the day and tasks which the SVI has set for itself over the next few months. He also spoke about the practices that have already been inducted through the efforts of the SVI across businesses worldwide and how the implementation of those is the need of the hour in India. Mr. Kapoor then proceeded on to introduce the speakers for the Inaugural Discussion.

Inaugural Discussion

This session consisted of 2 panel members. The panel members were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

1

Prof. Bibek Debroy

Member

Niti Aayog

2

Mr. Justin Bakule

Executive Director

Shared Value Initiative

 

Professor Bibek Debroy

Professor Bibek Debroy remains one of India’s great economists and policy framers. As part of the Niti Aayog he is now in charge of developing plans for a lot of upcoming economic projects and their implementation. He spoke about how on governance parameters India ranks low globally. Many other countries not renowned for the same, still outperform India. However, he feels that improvement in those same parameters will reflect on how well citizens take up the cause as everything cannot be left solely to the government. As an example he cited the Consumer Protection Act and the Environment Protection Act as well as the Right to Education. All these amendments took place because the people wanted them, and not only because the policy makers felt so. The Smart City Movement has now gripped the nation and it is people who will need to step up and be counted.

Next up, Prof. Debroy spoke about the importance of bringing huge chunks of the Indian population under the radar of formal employment. He quoted a research stating that out of approximately a four hundred and fifty million strong labour force in the country, only a tenth of that number was involved in the organized sector where there was any formal employer-employee relationship. Most of the rest happened without due proper paperwork. This anomaly impedes implementation of developmental schemes. No reliable statistics exist for majority of the country. He spoke about how there is a Census only for the population and vital statistics for the country but none at the individualized local level. All data now available is at the macro level. Even the national research agency- the NSSO- is the National Sample Survey Organization, thus it’s a sample not a complete enumeration. Very few indicators are available on the health or education sectors. This is what makes the newly implemented Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) of particular importance to the country.

Professor Debroy briefly touched upon the demonetization conundrum that has gripped the nation. He says that the majority of the pro-poor commentary tends to be in favour of the rural poor, yet in reality this segment is somewhat better served already due to the Aadhar Linkage with the bank accounts and the Jan-Dhan Yojana scheme. It is the urban poor who will probably be hit the hardest. They now need to be brought under the umbrella of the Jan-Dhan at a quick pace.

The speaker next spoke about a topic often misunderstood- the centre- state relations. He said that when people think of government in India, it is always the union government that comes first to mind, yet majority of revenue activities lie under the aegis of state governments or even local bodies. The Union government in India is most relevant for defense and foreign policy. Maximum revenue though accrues from the state and local bodies. Fiscal devolution has taken place whereby the central government has given away vast chunks of its previously held financial power in favour of the states. On this note he ended his talk as he had to rush towards another important ministry level meeting.

Mr. Justin Bakule

Mr. Bakule being one of the directors of the initiative spoke about the topics most relevant for SVI over the next few years. He feels that with landmark decisions such as Brexit and the victory of Donald Trump in the US Presidential Elections, the business community feels constrained. Business practices which have flowed across the globe irrespective of political boundaries or affiliations now feel under stress due to conservative governments taking power in major economies.

Mr. Bakule then proceeded to speak on the more positive aspects that have recently come up such as the landmark Paris Agreement. The business community has realized that philanthropy or CSR can only do incremental benefits but for real long term values, a profit driven yet ethical approach is required. That is where businesses must collaborate with the Paris Agreement to make sure the world is a better place to live in for today’s inhabitants as well as those from the future generations. Businesses need to be partners with governments as this provides long term growth opportunities. Mr. Bakule spoke about how Professor Jeffrey Sachs recently discussed the importance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While they have done their job commendably, the MDGs are getting updated by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Mr. Justin Bakule cited the example of Enel which used to be just a utility provided in Italy. Utility providers aren’t historically known for any business innovations as they operate in the business of providing essential services. Yet Enel reversed the trend. They were almost forced to change their business model once state support dried up after the company turned private. They bought a utility company in Spain but even this was incremental growth and not substantial. The major change they made was in spinning of a new renewable energy outfit called Enel Green power which was providing services in Latin America, North America and the Sub-Saharan Africa. As it was a risky proposition, initially Enel Green was registered as a new company. Its entire management was overhauled. Eventually Enel Green did so well due to the innovations of its board that it became bigger than the mother company. This led to the two boards being merged having a good mix of ideators and implementers.

Citing another example, Mr. Bakule spoke about a chocolate company based in West Africa. He did not wish to name the company but said that it was involved in processing of raw cocoa to chocolate. The West African nations of Cote-d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameron and Nigeria plus the South-east Asian Indonesia produce about ninety percent of global cocoa. Yet few chocolate companies have representatives in these countries working at the grassroots. The social conditions at the farms are often pitiful yet companies are not acting tough. The company the speaker was referring to, made a tall promise of regenerating a million trees in Cote-d’Ivoire until all realized it wasn’t a tall promise at all. A million sounded a lot but it’s not even a grain in a country which has a total of nearly three billion of them. Such practices businesses must avoid and there is a lot of scope for improvement for the existing or disruptive new players.

The last example of Yarra in Tanzania is one on the positive side. Yarra is a fertilizer maker in much of East Africa but unlike the chocolate maker last cited, this company has a more holistic approach. It works at the grassroots in order to improve the lives of its workers while at the same time working itself to drive profitability. Thus the business world will engage in several key challenges over the next few years. A new world order is set to emerge where international trade may be frowned on upon but the business community needs to rise above it to collaborate together.

Panel Discussion: Shared Value Orientation as a Project or EEnterprise. What Works better? What is the best Way to identify the social / environmental need or Opportunity?

This session consisted of 7 panel members. The panel members were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

1

Mr. David Wilcox

Founder

Reach Scale

2

Ms. Namita Vikas

Group President & MD- Climate Strategy & Responsible Banking

YES Bank

3

Mr. Shiva Nagarajan

CEO

Mother Dairy

4

Ms. Nisha Agrawal

CEO

OXFAM India

5

Mr. Girish Aivalli

MD & CEO

Rural Agri Ventures

6

Mr. Himanshu Jain

MD & VP – SE Asia & Indian Sub- Continent

Sealed Air

7

Ms. Deirdre White

Global CEO

PYXERA

 

Mr. David Wilcox

Mr. Wilcox was the moderator for this session. So one by one he introduced all the members of the panel to the audience speaking about their individual credentials. He lauded India’s efforts in scaling innovations unique to anywhere else in the world. He spoke about how the food industry is set to face a lot of litigation troubles over the next few years in a similar way to how cigarette companies have. This is due to false commitments made in its advertising.

Ms. Namita Vikas

This speaker began her talk by highlighting the role that banks will need to play over the next few months due to the issue of demonetization trending in the country. The impacts of that are as yet unclear but banks are doing their best to provide best of services to the people. She then spoke about the unique opportunities that mobile banking presents in the country. There is a total mobile penetration of over nine hundred million out of which four hundred million use smartphones. One hundred and fifty million people enjoy access to internet on their phones. The ‘sling sleeve’ movement is going very strong in mobile banking where inclusive growth is being targeted. There are attempts underway to include vast numbers of people into the formal banking network.

YES Bank has now taken up the project of gender financing in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC). This will encourage women entrepreneurs to emerge. Technological growth will continue unabated. She gave an example of inclusive financing by citing the case of Water ATMs. She believes through personal experience that when something is for free, it does not have much value nor can it prove to be sustainable. Thus water purification is being done followed by disbursal of water at six paisa per litre. The pilot project was conducted in Raigad in Maharashtra. Similarly, such initiatives were also carried out in D and E grade railway stations primarily in rural areas. Post this extensive business analysis, YES Bank has come up with a formula to measure social impact. It has been called ESROI which stands for Environmental Social Return on Investment.

Mr. Shiva Nagarajan

The CEO of Amul started out by lauding the company policy which disburses all payments through formal banking channels. As a result not one of Amul’s more than two lakh farmers within the network has faced any crunch due to the recent demonetization drive. Contrary to the usual narrative, Mr. Nagarajan surprised the audience by saying that farmers actually get great satisfaction when they see money saved safely in their bank accounts. Amul has several such practices which may seem odd at first with conventionally held profit motive organizations, but on closer inspection reveal positive outcomes to the top line. One such example is the fortification of Amul milk with Vitamin A. This leads to rise in cost of production yet it is good for people’s health and thus Amul continues to be associated with credibility in the dairy industry. In spite of so many efforts, India still faces massive malnutrition. This is an aspect all companies within the food industry need to get together to solve.

Ms. Nisha Agrawal

Like one of the earlier speakers, Ms. Nisha Agrawal too spoke about the need for the SDGs. Earlier it was understood that all social initiatives would be taken up by governments at all levels and NGOs. But now private profit motive companies are enabling partners to this scheme. There still remain more than eight hundred million each day people across the world who go hungry. The joining of hands to this initiative by private companies will go a long way in improving the lives of these people.  

Mr. Girish Aivalli

This speaker directly addressed the audience by speaking about an example. He spoke about how the company Rural Agri Ventures has taken steps to leverage existing businesses to improve social welfare. In this example he spoke about the production of Barley in Rajasthan for the eventual purpose of beer production. However beyond this, the barley and its extracts which have nutritional value were also used to generate local jobs which contributed to the economy. A similar initiative was also launched in Ladakh.

Mr. Himanshu Jain

Mr. Jain spoke of his company’s work as a combination between pure business initiatives and philanthropy. He feels that an office cleaner must not be referred to as such but instead as a health technician as that person is making sure that one’s health and sanitation remains good. His company has throughout at every location tried to develop local employment opportunities or upgradation of existing jobs rather than having to relocate to big cities such as Delhi or Mumbai. Unfortunately certain jobs do not command even the basic respect in India due to the society being caste ridden.

Ms. Deirdre White

She thoroughly agrees with the SVI’s philosophy and has herself in her work moved on from philanthropy to CSR before finally settling into shared values. Unlike the other two, shared values can be integrated into the corporate strategy to aid in hard core business decision making. In fact young people today want to be involved in organizations which provide societal values. That is why talent recruitment is greatly enhanced in quality when organizations follow the path of shared values. Pro Bono strategies now work across the board, not just for specific projects.

This session was followed by a round of Networking Tea/ Coffee break where people enjoyed the beverages while striking up interesting conversations with new people.

Story Telling Session

This session consisted of 3 panel members. The panel members were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

1

Ms. Prerna Mukharya

Founder

Outline India

2

Ms. Faith Gonsalves

Executive Director

Music Basti

3

Ms. Yogita Bayana

Social Development

Ms. Prerna Mukharya

Ms. Prerna Mukharya began on a somber note by describing that a lot of ideas implanted in society are regressive. Also a lot of women development plans happen to be patronizing. But the ultimate idea of each such plan must be to generate social growth. It will start with a change in the mindset of the people.

Ms. Faith Gonsalves

This speaker’s organizational model is relevant to rural areas. It works especially well in government schools and low end private ones as well. Quality of education at the grassroots level is actually very poor. In spite of the excellent results attained in school exams, Indians have been known to be notoriously bad at creativity. That is why Music Basti has tried to ingrain the sense of creativity among the rural youth by using the tool of music. The programme is donor dependent yet it does not train ‘circus monkeys’ as the speaker mentioned. She in fact took a swipe at reality television programmes in this way. Teaching using arts and music is a globally accepted methodology though often treated as frivolous in India. The focus is on social and life skills. A sense of community is thus developed. Ms. Faith Gonsalves even narrated a beautiful poem penned down by one of her students who used to be homeless but now has access to a homeless shelter.

Ms. Yogita Bayana

This speaker started off by addressing that gender equality is a myth in the country. She herself has adopted a village but initially only men used to visit in the meetings. Slowly, a trickle of women started arriving starting with one in fact, But now majority of those present are women. So change can be wrought if the will stands strong. She feels that gender discrimination is promoted subconsciously from a young age in India. Her organization Kinder Joy hgas started the policy of feeding some of the people candies made out of jaggery (gur) as a lot of people are iron deficient and it is one of the best sources of the same.

Panel Discussion: Young Entrepreneurs making a difference – in Collaboration with Ashoka

This session consisted of 6 panel members. The panel members were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

1

Ms. Neeta Misra

Senior Associate Editor

Business World

2

Mr. Piyush Ghosh

Founder

The Optimist Citizen

3

Ms. Aditi Parekh

Director

Student Think Tank of India

4

Mr. Pritish Bhavnani

Founder

A Cry for Help

5

Ms. Shanti Murmu

Founder

Parivartan

6

Ms. Priya Radhakrishnan

Co-founder

Jazba

Ms. Neeta Misra

As the moderator for the session, she introduced all the panelists to the audience. This was a particularly special panel as the oldest member among them was twenty years old. All were young entrepreneurs or leaders who had vested their time for social upliftment of some kind. She reflected on how most people are during their teens as opposed to this bunch of highly focused youngsters.

Mr. Piyush Ghosh

Piyush feels that usually when people read news papers or watch news on TV it is always the pessimistic information that make the headlines. A lot of good things are happening around but those aren’t spoken of. So he has started a newspaper titled The Optimist Citizen in order to spread positive news. This will create a sense of positivity among people generally.

Ms. Aditi Parekh

Unlike the others here, Aditi was not the founder of this social initiative but now runs the show. Her organization promotes engagement among young people. They have programmes to educate across schools in Delhi. The programme is known as baat-cheet implying in Hindi – conversations. Changes to education system are appealed for at such sessions. She related to her own personal life of how she had grown up in a small school but after being introduced to a big CBSE school Rishi Valley, she started noticing the faultiness in society which needed to be mended.

Mr. Pritish Bhavnani

Having himself endured bullying across class levels, Pritish is a string advocate against the same in schools. He grew up in smaller towns but on moving to Gurugram and enrolling at the famed DPS in sector-45, the bullying really took off. Thus he has through his organization developed SHGs to tackle this grave problem. Flash mobs have also been arranged.

Ms. Shanti Murmu

Shanti belongs to a small place in the state of Odisha’s tribal belt. She herself belongs to one of the tribal communities and feels that there is particular neglect within her community for the women. Girls from a young age are made to feel inferior and not allowed many basic tenets which boys have full freedom to. Thus she has set out with the help of her startup to promote girl child education among tribals in Odisha state. The stopping of the practice of early marriage will be among the crucial battles in this war. Girls are kept at home during menstruation, denied basic hygiene amenities. This is extremely harmful to their long term health. Sanitation is particularly weak at those times. A lot of changes are expected due to these programme implementations.

Ms. Priya Radhakrishnan

Priya feels that young people do not have a voice and their aspirations are not addressed seriously by their elders. Through role play, her organization seeks to help the youth rise up. Social media has influenced this generation in a massive way. Arts are generally viewed as privilege in India but Priya feels they must be treated as everyday usual aspects. One of the main tenets of her organization is that any idea to be worked on must be globally acceptable but locally implementable and impactful. She feels that students have no gateway to connect with education authorities regarding examinations or curriculum. But students need to be consulted as they are the final consumers of the same.

Special Address

This session consisted of 2 panel members. The panel members were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

1

Mr. Anurag Batra

Chairman & Editor-in-Chief

Business World

2

  1. Anil K. Gupta

Professor

IIM- Ahmedabad

Mr. Anurag Batra

He was the host to this session so he introduced the main guest. He referred to the guest as the ‘walking professor’ as he is fondly known as. Mr. Batra also took in the questions for the Q&A session right at the end.

Dr. Anil K. Gupta

Dr. Anil Gupta began his session by lamenting the fact that the Indian art of frugal innovation has surprisingly being tracked more by foreign MNCs than Indian companies. He feels that some of the most well endowed endure the most cynicism. Sadly, innovations are often thought of as an afterthought to be only searched for when business isn’t doing well. This kind of approach is reactive, but instead companies must be proactive enough to sniff off an opportunity before it is extinguished. He gave the example of a cycle manufacturer in Ludhiana where he went for a conference fully well prepared having gone through Honeybee data on the entire industry. He asked one of the manufacturers that what new innovation is he going to implement, so the answer came that the business was doing very well. This is a case of a business not being agile enough.

The professor then spoke about some innovative solutions his organization has brought it at various places. One of those ideas not yet implemented due to lack of institutional support is that open source educational content must be beamed direct from post offices to young students. He feels that professionals need to themselves take risks in their careers in order to train others on creativity. A risk averse individual oneself cannot deliver management training on developing creativity or imbibing innovations. Such people will not be able to execute futuristic strategies.

Dr. Gupta then proceeded on to discuss a typical failing in the society where children are treated as sink of sermons. They are forever lectured by elders on how to be perfect like themselves. This is unfair to the children who must instead be treated as source of ideas. Thus his own organization has started recognizing talents at all levels. Awards are given from class 1 onwards. Ideas are needed to be explored on how to fight off water borne diseases which are the main source of ailments. Some open source solutions need to be explored for the same.

After this session, the delegates broke off for a session of Networking Lunch. People interacted amidst a lavish multi-course menu. 

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