29 December 2010

Inclusive Business Guide: How to Develop Business and Fight Poverty

Fresh research and advice on how to develop business and fight poverty - or better foster prosperity - comes from the same authors that have been part involved in various leading reports by UNDP's "Growing Inclusive Markets" initiative. The new Inclusive Business Guide is the first comprehensive compilation providing cutting edge know-how and inspiration for newcomers and experienced practitioners alike. Mainly addressing a business audience, it features 20 case studies from around the world, relevant know-how and is packed with well selected recommended reading.
"It is the absence of broad-based business activity, not its presence,
that condemns much of humanity to suffering."

Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General
I know both authors personally, Christina Gradl and Claudia Knobloch, and it's good to see the progress on the learning journey since Prahalad inspired so many companies to look for fortune at the base of the economic pyramid (BoP), estimated at over $5 trillion (!) local purchasing power. "Inclusive Business" seems to be the new mantra of a new generation of initiatives. It's broad enough to include various hybrid concepts combining sustainable business development with poverty reduction.

Some ideas stress the role of low-income segments (not to use the word "the poor") more on the consumer side, some more on the supply side; some come from the public sector while some are more business driven. As the overlap of these concepts can be quite confusing, the illustration below can help with some overview:

The large and growing BoP markets are the major opportunity for new ways of doing business good for people, the planet and profits. To untap this potential, innovation and a new awareness are required. This guide furthers the knowledge and takes readers through the 12 step business process from development to implementation to growth:

Read the full Inclusive Business Guide (PDF). All figures copyright endeva.
Happy new year 2011 with lots of success!

13 November 2010

Starting new UNDP Africa Project - a dream comes true

I have just moved to Johannesburg to start a new United Nations development project. This blog post covers the project and my first week back with Mother Africa from two perspectives: 1) professional and 2) personal.

1) New UNDP Africa Project on Private Sector and
    Inclusive Business/Market Development

Together with my Mozambican colleague Tomas Sales, we are starting UNDP's first Pan-African project on developing vibrant private sectors that create jobs and enhance incomes by including low-income people into value chains. This can mean offering specialized and affordable products/services to them as customers (demand side) or working with them as workers, suppliers or entrepreneurs (supply side). Such business models at the "Base of the Pyramid" are also called inclusive business models contributing to poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The track-record so far and prospects to achieve the MDGs by 2015 are mixed. 10 years have passed and only five more to go. The recent financial and economic crises plus environmental challenges (foremost climate change) have not helped either. But the goals can still be achieved and increasingly the important role of the private sector - business and entrepreneurs - is realized. The project covers Regional Economic Integration, Value Chain Projects, Partnerships and Inclusive Finance. It's too complex to describe here in short, so I leave it with a slide carrying the spirit of the project.

2) Dreams do come true
Some years I had a dream: Using my business background for social human development. I wanted to make a change with my life and work for a better world, not just donate some money to ease my conscience. My heart was burning for big adventures and taking on big challenges. My aspiration was to work for the United Nations in Africa.

The road there has been winding but if things are meant to be and we believe in our aspirations and potential they do become true. My multi-stages path after leaving the " corporate rat race" included: unpaid volunteer at a Microfinance NGO in Peru (FINCA), grass-roots work in Mali (Mali-Initiative), an unpaid internship at the UN (Global Compact), earning Masters in International Development (UNSW) and getting a chance to work for UNDP in New York, hanging in there as a serial short-term consultant...

Now my dream to work for the UN on "business & development" in Africa is coming true. And the best is that it is just starting :) Imagine next? I already feel a sense of deep change here in Africa and globally consciousness is growing. Change is in the air, we can make it! Some inspiration to listen to your own heart and unleash your inner potential:
"Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!
Live the life you've imagined.
Henry David Thoreau
Leave a comment below.

14 October 2010

The Enlightened Business Summit - October 25-29th Teleseminar - Conscious Capitalism

Via the World Business Academy newsletter comes an open invitation to "The Enlightened Business Summit", a virtual global event that features around 40 top CEOs, bestselling authors, pioneering entrepreneurs, and provocateurs – for free. To cite from the World Business Academy:
"The Summit features leaders such as Tim Ferriss, Tony Hsieh, John Mackey, George Zimmer, Christine Comaford Lynch, Tony Schwartz, Roxanne Emmerich, Stephen M. Covey, and Mihaly Csikszenmihalyi. It’s designed with mainly 30-minute talks interspersed throughout the day so you can stay on top of your work while learning the best insights from the world’s top business minds.

If you’re like us, you recognize that conscious capitalism can become the single most powerful engine for good on our planet. But what it takes is having a great guidebook and wise advisors.

Most of us have been raised in a war-zone approach to business that actually doesn’t work very well – it leads to unhappy employees, uncreative teams, burned out leaders, and stagnant sales. Recent financial crises are forcing all of us to get far more creative in harnessing the best science, insights, and wisdom for creating businesses that liberate our creative potential and truly succeed – on all levels.

That’s why this event can be so valuable for you and your organization – it gives you unprecedented access to world-class advisors for transforming the way you do business.

You can participate live on as many calls as you like and interact with both the featured leaders and other participants via a state-of-the-art MaestroConference platform, which will connect you to participants from around the world.

The Enlightened Business Summit runs from Oct. 25-29th as a free offering from The Shift Network and it will be hosted by Chip Conley, author of Peak and one of the most popular speakers at this year’s TED conference."
I only know a few of the speakers so far, such as Stephen Covey ("7 habits of highly effective people"), Lance Secretan (read his ONE book on conscious leadership), Hazel Henderson. A very intersting topic and line-up. Being 'free' the value for money is hard to beat, so I will selectivly tune in.

For more information & registration see: www.enlightenedbusinesssummit.com

20 September 2010

Accelerating the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through Inclusive Business

UPDATE with resources from 22 September 2010 at the end:

Can you create business and social value through the same enterprise? Does sustainable development and good business go hand in hand? Yes, it can! I have been working on these issues for the last 18 months at UNDP and am happy that tomorrow - coinciding with the UN MDG Summit - a number of the world's leading business networks and initiatives are coming together to rally business energy and expertise around inclusive business models.

What are inclusive business models? These are business models that involve poor people as consumers, employees, suppliers or distributors, and offer a powerful and sustainable way to fight poverty. There is a strong overlap with the Base of the Pyramid (BOP) and Social Enterprise concepts. Separating these different perspectives can be an academic exercise, however more convincing are hearing real cases. So let's hear what the leaders in the field report.

Audio, video and other resources from the workshop will be posted at Business Fights Poverty over the next few days. So follow there, and I will post some key take-aways here.

UPDATE from 22 September 2010:
There is a wealth of valuable information coming out of this event, here some selected highlights:

23 July 2010

Reflections on the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2010 (by the Gong Man)

Where is the tipping point for a new era of sustainability? This was one of the key questions of the promising UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2010 last month in New York. 'Official' Summit blogger Dirk Matten has well covered the Summit and its wider CSR context. Therefore, I focus here on my personal reflections and listing the official new resources launched.

Firstly, it's great to see the growing momentum of the Global Compact and the whole sustainability movement. The compact itself grew from a 30-40 company club 10 years ago, into the largest CSR network with over 8.000 participants in 2010. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon talked about a new era of sustainability seeing the Compact with 20.000 participants by 2020. Frankly, this looks like linear growth and I'd like to see exponential growth reaching 50.000 or even 100.00 participants.

I actually had the funniest (and toughest) job at the Summit helping out my Global Compact friends as the 'Gong Man' and time keeper. The mandate passionately delivered to me by Global Compact director Georg Kell gave me two sleepless nights. How to keep an 1.200 people event on time with dozens of VIPs, CEOs, ministers on stage which are not used to be interrupted? Getting real and being unimpressible by titles and status was my only resort and I even had to gong the moderator once. People told me that this is the 'toughest job' and appreciated very much that the Summit was on time, start to end.

The big clock around my neck mainly saved as funny ice breaker for some 'stiff' and serious energy. I actually enjoyed being the 'clown' between the many VIPs and it showed the human and humor side of ministers, CEOs and alike. (Lesson learned is to wear something funny at a conference, a huge facilitator to get to know people :)

Happy 10th Birthday, Global Compact! Wishing you 10 more years with exponential success. Time is ready for the tipping point of a new era of sustainability.

You can watch the webcast of the Summit and below a list of new resources and initiatives launched:
  • UN Global Compact Annual Review – Anniversary Edition. Download.
  • A New Era of Sustainability: UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study 2010. Download.
  • United Nations Global Compact Local Network Report 2010. Download.
  • Role of Governments in Promoting Corporate Responsibility and Private Sector Engagement in Development. Download.
  • A Greener Tomorrow – How Caring for Climate Signatories are Leading the Way to a Low Carbon Economy. Download.
  • Moving Upwards: The Involvement of Boards of Directors in the UN Global Compact. Download.
  • Coming of Age: UN-Business Collaboration Since 2000. Download.
  • Innovating for a Brighter Future: The Role of Business in Achieving the MDGs. Download.
  • Global Compact Participants in Latin America and the Caribbean: Contribution to the Millennium Development Goals. Download (English), (Spanish).
  • Women's Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business. Download.
  • Principles for Social Investment (PSI). Download.
  • Launch of Process to Develop Children’s Principles. More Information.
Tools & Guidance:
  • Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership within the Global Compact. Download.         
  • UN Global Compact Management Model. Download.         
  • A Global Compact for Development. Download.
  • Guidance on Responsible Business in Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas: A Resource for Companies and Investors. Download (English), (Chinese).           
  • Supply Chain Sustainability: A Practical Guide for Continuous Improvement. Download.           
  • Sustainable Supply Chains: Resources and Practices. Access Website.
  • Lawyers as Leaders: The Essential Role of Legal Counsel in Corporate Sustainability Agenda. Download.
  • An Introduction to Linkages between UN Global Compact Principles and ISO 26000 Core Subjects. Download.
  • The Global Compact Self Assessment Tool. Access Website.
  • Global Compact Network Management Toolkit: Version 1. Download.
  • Human Rights and Business E-Learning Tool. Access Website.
  • Guide on How to Develop a Human Rights Policy. Download.
  • Human Rights and Business Dilemmas Forum. Access Website.
  • The Labour Principles of the United Nations Global Compact: A Guide for Business. Download.
  • Human Trafficking and Business: Good Practices to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking. Download.          
  • Environmental Stewardship Strategy – Overview and Resource for Corporate Leaders. Download. Access Website.
  • Framework for Responsible Business Engagement with Water Policy. Download.
  • Low Carbon Leaders – Transformative Solutions for a Low-Carbon Future. Download.
  • Reporting Guidance on the 10th Principle Against Corruption. Download.
  • Fighting Corruption in the Supply Chain: A Guide for Customers and Suppliers. Download.
  • E-learning Tool: Fighting Against Corruption. Download.
  • Collective Action – Building a Coalition Against Corruption. Download.
Best Practices:
  • Doing Business While Advancing Development and Peace. Download.
  • Dialogues on Integrating Human Rights – Testimonials by Business Leaders. Access Website.
  • From Principles to Practice: The Role of SA8000 in Implementing the UN Global Compact. Download.
  • Implementing the United Nations Global Compact in China: Inspirational Case Examples. Download.
  • GRI and UN Global Compact Forge New Alliance. More Information.
Photo credit: UN Global Compact/Michael Dames

21 June 2010

Global Compact Leaders Summit 2010 and other things to look forward...

Let's start off with a positive note... I am happy :) out of several reasons: Summer is here, I am going on holidays soon and my 'new' work-life approach does make sense: Following my heart to explore timeless wisdom and to expand consciousness in my daily life and work. Might sound airy-fairy but it is actually very practical. It not only feels right but also bears fruits regarding work satisfaction and efficiency with very positive feedback from colleagues.

A break-through at work is that the major project I have been designing the last months is being approved and therefore I am going to move to Johannesburg in September 2010 for about two years! It's a big Africa UNDP project aiming at developing a vibrant private sector in multiple African countries. Why is this exciting? It's the first of its kind for UNDP in Africa and 'fresh' compared to traditional aid project as it intends to unleash people's inherent potential, specifically on entrepreneurship, which then leads to job and income generation. More as soon as the project is officially launched.

Already happening this week is the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2010 in New York City. The last Summit which happened 2007 was very interesting, see my article about it's outcomes. This week, more than 1,200 executives  from nearly 100 countries are confirmed to attend this historic event. Registration is closed (and was invitation-only to mainly CEOs), however you can follow it live via live on the UN Webcast site or read about it on the Global Compact blog or Crane and Matten blog.

Last not least, I just received confirmation that an article I wrote for the upcoming Thunderbird Business Review special issue on Entrepreneurship and Sustainability got accepted and will be the opening piece. This is great news as it is the first article for me of this kind and motivates me for more. Will link as soon as published...

Good luck and peace!

26 May 2010

First Explorations into Conscious Business: How to integrate Money and Meaning?

As I have hinted at in earlier posts I want to take this blog onto the next level: From social and doing-good business to 'conscious business'. This is a journey as I do not have a fixated definition of conscious business nor capitalism and even the Wikipedia description is more a starting point. You are invited to join and explore this emerging new field... (which I am considering to do my PhD in).

Let's start with excerpts from one of the very few articles that aim to bring together business and spiritual thinking. Brian Whetten writes in The Huffington Post about "What Does it Mean To Practice Conscious Capitalism?:

"When we open to spiritual reality, our experience is one of abundance. In contrast, modern economic theory is based on scarcity. One of the definitions of economics is "the social science of choice under scarcity." With this comes fear, denial, greed and addiction. There's a reason why economics is called the dismal science.

This does not mean that economics is wrong. What it means is that the world changes as we lift in consciousness. At the physical level, the world looks like it's based in scarcity, win/lose, either/or, and survival of the fittest. But as we're able to see things from a higher perspective, we realize that things are based in abundance, win/win, both/and, and love. ...

We all have a challenge integrating money and meaning, and it shows up in our lives and in society. Notice how we have two types of organizations, for-profit companies that focus primarily on money and non-profits that focus primarily on service. Relatively few groups do both at the same time, because conscious business requires learning how to embrace and heal the conflicts inside ourselves.

In other words, conscious business starts by recognizing that it can't be measured just by the mission of the organization. It also requires focusing on the consciousness of the members in the organization. In other words, it's not enough to focus just on what we do, it also requires focusing on how we are as we do it."

Read the full article here or visit Brian's website www.consciousbusinessnow.com

What an interesting start, thanks Brian. What do you think?

27 March 2010

The Top 50 Sustainability Books?

Top 50 coverInterested in the most prominent sustainability books? Greenleaf Publishing has an interesting publication summarizing the thinking of new and timeless classics. "The Top 50 Sustainability Books" is written by Wayne Visser, founder of CSR International and very active in the field. Like with every ranking you could argue about the criteria but anyway there us much inspiration in and to learn from these books. You can order at a 20% discount at Greenleaf.

The Top 20 in order with some excerpts accessible:
  1. An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It, by Al Gore, 2006
  2. Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, 1962
  3. The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review, by Nicholas Stern, 2007
  4. Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, by E.F. Schumacher, 1973
  5. Capitalism as if the World Matters, by Jonathon Porritt, 2005
  6. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, by Jared Diamond, 2005
  7. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, 2000
  8. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, by James Lovelock, 2000
  9. Our Common Future, by The World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987
  10. Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, by John Elkington, 1999
  11. The Limits to Growth, by Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows and Jorgen Randers, 1972
  12. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by William McDonough (A) and Michael Braungart (A), 2002
  13. Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits, by C.K. Prahalad, 2004
  14. The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, by Jeffrey Sachs, 2005.
  15. Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning, by George Monbiot, 2006
  16. Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, by Janine Benyus, 2003
  17. The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, by Paul Hawken, 1994
  18. Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the battle Against World Poverty, by Muhammad Yunus, 1999
  19. The Turning Point: Science Society and the Rising Culture, by Fritjof Capra, 1984
  20. Development as Freedom, by Amartya Sen, 2000
Enjoy catching up with your reading list :)

13 March 2010

Video: Eckhart Tolle, Spiritual Master, on the Economic Crisis and Change

Ever since the recent crises, namely climate, financial and economic I have been contemplating about the reasons and what to learn from the challenges. On a professional level, I have been learning through my consulting work at the United Nations and my honorary work for the Mali Initiative. On a more personal level, I have been on a journey of in-sights and in-tution through personal development and meditation.

Through these ways, I have experienced to appreciate challenges as 'signs' that change or transformation is required. I find the connection between our own state of consciousness (inside) and state of economy and environment (outside) intriguing. Therefore, I am going to increasingly share with you content on 'conscious business' and 'inspired leadership'. Hope you are open-minded and interested?

Eckhart Tolle, bestseller author and spiritual Master, talks in the following video about the current economy, its crises and the underlying reasons. He describes why the collapse of ego-based institutions is necessary for the planet and for humanity to survive.

Watch on YouTube or embedded below:

04 March 2010

Search and Save the Planet: Green Google Alternatives

Short and sweet, I want to bring to your attention two real Business4Good candidates. Both are 'eco-friendly' search engines giving you the choice of saving rainforest and making you 'googling' CO2-neutral.

1. Ecosia: www.ecosia.org
Eevery search saves about 2 m² of rainforest, according to Ecosia which cooperates with the WWF. It's results are based on Bing and Yahoo.

2. Znout: www.znout.org
Accordning to Znout, you can make your Internet searches CO2 neutral. Based on Google.

Next two these two, there are more green search engines in the market. Even they don't have built in some fancy Google features the green alternatives are certainly good enough for usual searches. Computers are a significant and growing consumer of electricity and therefore producer of CO2 and climate change.
"Electricity generation required for information and communication technologies is currently responsible for 2% of global CO2 emissions" (Techcrunch)
I just switched to green 'googling' and made one of them my default search engine. Just waiting for the moment when giant Google wakes up by searchers walking off green and then starts greening itself. Goliath, the green Davids are coming.

Happy green searching.

13 February 2010

Video: The Story of Stuff

After several people told me about a video "The Story of Stuff" I finally watched it. The 20 minute video is a refreshing, eye-opening mix between documentary and story-telling. Watch it, spread it and decide for yourself how to react to the 'inconvenient truth' of consumerism.

What is The Story of Stuff?
From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

18 January 2010

Haiti: How you can help rebuild a better future

Heavy hearts at the UN. Just coming back from staff briefing on Haiti. A colleague I know survived but the disastrous earthquake is the biggest single loss in UN history and probably the biggest disaster the UN has dealt with.

A video showed shocking damage in Haiti and first hand reports of Haitian colleagues were heartbreaking. Secretary-General called the international response overwhelming and an act of love. It will take years for the people to get back on track.

You can help, too, here a couple of suggestions:
  • UN Foundation: UN including the World Food Program is the first responder
  • Betterplace: Good for smaller, direct projects with regular communications
  • or if you are a Business, donate and help reconstruct: Business.un.org