The Zambia Business in Development Facility (ZBiDF) and Incite held a Shared Value Master Class on the 2nd of November, 2015 in Lusaka.
Shared Value is a management strategy in business by using societal challenges to create financial value and a win-win situation for the businesses as well as the society having overcome the challenges being faced through innovative ideas.
Shared Value does not only seek to make profits but to address societal problems in an innovative way and create employment.
In developing the concept, Harvard professors Michael Porter and Mark Kramer identified three ways of Creating Shared Value namely;
- Re-conceiving products and markets
- Redefining productivity
- Enabling local cluster development
The Master Class which was attended by various companies and organizations from different sectors of development such as the Extractives, Manufacturing and the Agriculture highlighted what Shared Value is, how it works and why companies are applying it in business.
For businesses to prosper and stand the test of time the social and economical challenges that are in the outside realm of the business need to be addressed.
The class was facilitated by Incite Director-Nicola Robins who engaged participation from the class in all the sessions.
It was not a one man’s show with only the facilitator talking but rather the class was fully engaged to bring out their ideas, understanding as well as worked in groups to pitch innovative ideas which encouraged team work and enabled the participants to think outside the box or rather come to the realisation that there’s never been a box.
There was full participation and the class was lively which made it all the more interesting as the represented organizations learnt how to grow their businesses and brand with Shared Value through the various concepts and tools availed to them. The Facilitator also used other companies as case studies to show how Shared Value has worked out for them and how innovative ideas can bring about financial value and help curb societal and economic challenges which any business operating in any society ought to be concerned about. Ms. Robins highlighted that Shared Value initiatives are innovations that address societal challenges, at scale, as a business proposition.
It came as no shock that some of the participants did not know much about Shared Value but were eager to learn more in order for their businesses to stay afloat and tap into the business opportunities that societal challenges might present. However, those who had heard of Shared Value wanted to acquire the necessary tools, through the class, in order for them to implement it in their businesses. The participants also felt the need to sensitize and disseminate the information and tools gained from the class to the business world because there is need to revive the business after it has stagnated. They agreed that Shared Value was the missing tool in making businesses more profitable and keeping them afloat as well as to creating jobs and developing the communities that businesses operate in.
To this effect, it was suggested that the participants should Champion Shared Value to the business world engaging University of Lusaka (UNILUS), who were present, to make it more sustainable and impart in the students in higher learning institutions the need to come up with innovative ideas in order to create employment for themselves and others in the society once they graduate.
Arising from this. an Executive MBA program for leaders from all sectors and in whatever capacity (traditional or modern) has been introduced at UNILUS effective next year (2016) with Shared Value as part of the course outline.
The program will enable the various leaders in the nation to be able to solve problems being faced in their communities practically instead of just learning theory and burying what has been learnt. The learning will be 50/50 theory and practical with team work, teaching aids and workable innovations and projects at the end of it all as assessments and exams.
UNILUS has enlisted the support of ZBIDF on this program to make it more practical and innovative in terms of bringing mentors who have used Shared Value to the classes so that the students will be able to see the tangible results of Shared Value.
So far the norm for the youths in Zambia is to get an education and then look for a job instead of using the skills obtained to create jobs for themselves and others in the society by being entrepreneurs and building businesses through innovative ideas in answer to societal problems.
At the end of the class, all those who attended the class got Shared Value Attendance Certificates to show that they had completed the Shared Value Master Class and that they had acquired the necessary tools to implement the concept in business and society at large in order to address some of the societal challenges and indeed the urgent need for diversification in the nation.