A network of Africa’s largest companies will gather in Kigali, Rwanda on 4-5 June 2020 at the 4th annual Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit, to share ideas about how companies can build business initiatives around solving social problems at scale and contributing to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on the continent.
The event, Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit, aims to increase awareness of how social and environmental protection can be incorporated into the strategies of businesses across industries and borders. The Shared Value Business Model, developed by Harvard Business School’s Prof Michael Porter and Mark Kramer and practiced by an increasing number of businesses across the world, advocates that business has a responsibility to create both economic and social value.
The summit will provide delegates with an opportunity to learn from the Rwanda success story and why President Paul Kagame is widely regarded as having presided over an economic and social rebirth in the country.
In economic terms, Rwanda’s rate of economic growth has averaged 8% since 2001, according to the World Bank. It is one of four African countries included in the top ten fastest-growing global economies in the world in 2019, with medium term growth projected at 7-8%. In social terms, poverty rates have fallen, and Rwanda has made dramatic gains in health and development indicators.
“Rwanda has demonstrated how enormous challenges can be overcome if there is a willingness between public and private sector to work together, to create a thriving economy,” says Shared Value Africa Initiative CEO Tiekie Barnard. “The summit will offer participants insights into successful Rwanda and regional organisations that understand the responsibility of business in creating social change. It provides a learning environment, with participants sharing information on how they have achieved social impact through their business.”
The summit’s content is aligned with selected priority areas of Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation (NST1). Focus areas include the financial, agricultural, mining and health sectors. Innovation will be a cross-cutting topic. Discussion will also focus on opportunities for collaboration through regional relationships, such as those created by the African Continental Free Trade Area incorporating the current 27 African Union member states.
Over the two days of the summit, business leaders will discuss how businesses focused on “profit with purpose” can contribute to reducing inequality and building economic prosperity, thereby mitigating the risk and enhancing the profit potential of doing business on the continent.
“At the heart of the Shared Value approach is the understanding that business can only be as successful as the environment in which it operates,” says Barnard. “This is not simply a way for companies to improve their reputations.”
Increasingly, companies and their shareholders are seeing that over the long term, a society’s inequality will also create problems for businesses. “Shared Value creates more responsible, and sustainable businesses by allowing companies to focus on solving persistent problems for unserved or underserved customers,” says Stephen Chege, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of Kenya-based Safaricom and pioneer of M-PESA, one of the world’s most successful mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and microfinancing service.
As with previous years, the UN Sustainable Development Goals will be a theme throughout at the Summit as a guide to the business leaders to demonstrate how business can contribute to achieving the goals and to addressing social challenges, a core part of their operations.