The new generation of corporate and social partnerships
At the Ashoka Changemaker Summit, leaders share in’s and out’s of cross-sector collaboration
What if social impact wasn’t an afterthought in the private sector, but the central concern? What if every company recognized its power to usher in positive change? For some leaders, these aren’t just thought experiments — they’ve put those questions to the test.
At the Ashoka Changemaker Summit, we heard from five top company executives and leading social entrepreneurs — working in Africa, Latin America, and Europe —who together have explored the paths to “doing good business” experiencing success and failure along the way. Discover how they encourage changemaking within their companies, create value for local communities through their value chains, and chart the future of collaboration.
Why work with social entrepreneurs?
What’s unique about companies partnering with social enterprises? Social entrepreneurs can help companies discover new ways to address social problems and inequalities, says Åsa Skogstrom, managing Director of IKEA Social Entreprenership BV—and share wisdom to help steer more holistic, inclusive approaches.
Want to change the value chain? Focus on skilling.
Joseph Nkandu founded NUCAFEI to organize and mobilize coffee farmers because they were earning less than 5% of their coffee’s retail value. To shift the equation, Joseph brought on international collaborators including the Italian coffee company Caffe Riva, and embarked on a journey studying business administration and building skills at Caffe Riva to understand the ins-and-outs of the value chain. Back in Uganda, he, alongside smallholder farmers that now number over 1.5 million, mobilized to invest in processing coffee and boosting farmers’ income by over 250%. Hear the story from him:
Rethinking recruiting — to benefit companies and candidates alike
We think of unemployment as a time of discouragement, or even despair— and often the recruiting process only reaffirms this mindset. How could a candidate’s experience with a company’s recruiting process be positive, regardless of whether they’re invited to come on board? Emilie Schmitt and Activ’Action help redesign HR processes to be inclusive and encouraging as candidates explore how they want to contribute to the world.
What if recruiting could not only be a more positive experience for candidates, but for companies? Activ’Action also works with companies to co-create HR processes that fit the company’s values and what society needs. When recruitment more closely reflects those values, company culture changes for the better, too.
Accelerators aren’t a one-way street
Liisa Smits and her organization, Ignitia, publish tropical weather forecasts that currently helps around 2 million farmers decide when to plant, harvest, hire labor, and make other important calls. They took part in Dela, an accelerator launched by IKEA and Ashoka. That meant Liisa had thought partners to talk about strategy and scaling — but it also led to a full-blown collaboration with IKEA. Asa says that working directly with social enterprises like Ignitia is important to IKEA’s goals of supporting smallholder farmers, innovating, and ultimately, making systems change.
Honesty is the best (partnership) policy
Through Fundacion FEDAR, social entrepreneur Ricardo Cobo is revolutionizing the care and education of people with mental disabilities in Latin America via new therapeutic education models based on art. When FEDAR and the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingeheim came together, they envisioned a relationship where both could put all of their knowledge on the table to support underserved communities. How to get there? Honesty.
How corporate social impact can shift an employee’s mindset
In private companies, says Edison Nunez of Boehringer Ingelheim, the goal-oriented mindset can take over, instead of the people-oriented mindset. Employees need to feel the needs of people who use their products. When we bring a holistic, heart-centered approach, that can change everything, he says—including how we develop solutions and build healthy relationships with communities.
About the Ashoka Changemaker Summit
The Changemaker Summit “A New Togetherness” is Ashoka’s yearly global gathering. It connects a vast community of social innovators and leaders from business and philanthropy to celebrate inspiring solutions, learn, and collaborate towards systemic change. Tune in every Thursday through December for conversations on Planet and Climate, Equity, and more. The culminating event on December 2 will be hosted in Turin, Italy. More information at https://acms.ashoka.org/