Jon Shepard and Joe Shields

Podcast Interview

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This Week Yvette Torres-Rahman interviews Joe Shields, Co-CEO of EthioChicken and Jon Shepard, the Global Director for Enterprise Growth Services at EY. EthioChicken is the only private company in Ethiopia focused exclusively on reaching smallholder farmers, and has created an innovative, economically viable, and replicable agent based distribution model to reach rural households.

In 2015, EthioChicken formed a skills partnership with EY Enterprise Growth Services (EGS), a not-for-profit, not-for-loss “social enterprise inside EY,” the global tax, audit, and consulting firm.

Hear how these two companies came into contact with each other through Acumen and how EY helped EthioChicken identify a wide range of operational and financial performance improvements, and prioritize which ones to take on after the engagement. EY also helped the social enterprise select an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, an important strategic investment decision for any small business.

EY’s learnings include simplifying and stripping down their standard approach to software development and managing expectations around timing horizons for Small companies bearing in mind their more limited resources compared to larger multinationals. EthoiChicken’s positive experience of the partnership has been enhanced by the fact that their senior team have been actively engaged in the process.

Acumen and Business Fights Poverty recently released a report about collaboration between social enterprises and global corporations, which describes the kind of work EhtioChicken and EY have done together as a “skills partnership.”

Collaboration can be tricky, EY’s advice to other multinationals considering engaging with smaller social enterprises is to be true to the core of your business so the partnership becomes a natural extension of your business.

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