There is No ‘I’ in team: How Collaboration and Innovation are Enabling Inclusive Businesses to Achieve Greater Social Impact

By Sahba Sobhani, Acting Head, Aimee Brown, Communications Lead, and Nazila Vali, Deputy Head, Business Call to Action

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Sir Isaac Newton in 1675. Over three centuries later, his recognition that nothing great is achieved in isolation is more relevant than ever. Would Steve Jobs have been able to transform his ideas into reality without a team around him? What relevance would Google have had without those who invented the internet?​

The world of inclusive business isn’t any different. We’re seeing more and more inspiring collaborations that are achieving exponential results, demonstrating the value of partnerships, and the opportunities for innovation that these alliances allow. Take a look at the recent partnership between BCtA member Essilor and Chinese commerce giant AliBaba – together they’re providing access to eye care for thousands of rural low income earners across China that would never have been able to access it before, through AliBaba’s Rural Taobao outlets.

In Africa, another BCtA member, Mastercard, is connecting millions of small-scale farmers with potential buyers and enabling them to improve their financial security by building digital transaction records through its partnership with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the United States African Development Foundation (USADF).

Initiatives like these blend innovation with collaboration, and strive towards a dual goal of social impact and company profit. Being able to balance all these components is what makes them stand out from the crowd, and positions them as inspirational leaders when it comes to private sector contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Let’s break it down.

Innovation enables companies to adapt to emerging needs and tap into new markets, while infusing flexibility into the core of their business approach, meaning they can maintain their relevance in our rapidly changing world.

Collaboration means they can build on the strengths of others, reaching previously unreachable markets and areas through new and different methods, achieving much more than they could alone.

Maintaining a strong social impact record by ensuring that the SDGs are at the core of their inclusive business targets helps to build credibility, improve reporting and adapt their business models to ensure they meet evolving client/customer needs.

And finally, maintaining the business bottom line means not only that companies can turn a profit, but that they can also operate more sustainably, both now and in the future.

At Business Call to Action, we are continually inspired by the initiatives of our member companies, whose collective impact spans the globe and is improving the lives of millions. Thus at our ninth Annual Forum this year, Inclusive Business: Emerging Models, Collaboration and Innovation, our member perspectives form the bedrock of our discussions around how we can continue to shape inclusive business and accelerate progress toward the SDGs.

In addition to Essilor and Mastercard, we’ll also hear from L’Occitane, Supracafe, Big Chefs, Turkcell, Bive and many more members, all of whom are successfully applying innovative models or working in partnership with others to find solutions to address the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges.

Their views will be complemented with perspectives of other leading inclusive business actors, we will look at how businesses are seizing the opportunities to grow and develop while generating the significant societal and environmental benefits that their customers, investors and the global community value.

Register now to join us on Friday 27 September at the Japan Society in New York, USA.

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