East Asia and Pacific
Interesting piece by Peter Asmus in Ethical Corporation. 10 years on, he looks back to an early example of “stakeholder engagement” when Mitsubishi executives sat down with the environmentalist Rainforest Action Network, who were threatening a boycott. In NGO engagement and partnerships – Ten lessons for corporations Asmus talks to the players and draws out a set of lessons for corporations with the benefit of a decade's perspective.
Exxon Mobil reports that its workplace malaria programme in Chad and Cameroon, which included employees, contractors, and the community, saved it US$ 8.9 million (for a US$ 3 million investment) in productivity gains. This figure does not include healthcare cost savings.
My Africa-based colleague Nigel Twose shared an illuminating story with me. His words follow:
Last Wednesday, I was sitting in the lobby of my hotel in Monrovia, waiting for my flight to Dakar and back to Jo'burg. Across from me were three men of Lebanese origin: the manager of the hotel, a 20-something, and an older man who had just left Lebanon to escape the war. The three of them were huddled over a laptop. One suddenly asked me: "Do you think Kentucky Fried Chicken would work in Monrovia?"
There's some interesting blogosphere chatter on Jonathan Greenblatt's proposal for a Peace Corps for social entrepreneurs. I like the idea, with one major caveat. When I got to the part about the US government screening people's ideas, a quick premonition of bureaucratic sclerosis dulled my enthusiasm. The social entrepreneurs I've met all seem to have an allergic reaction to paperwork.
Benchmarking taps into a powerful human emotion - to beat your neighbour or competitor. It makes for good copy in the press. It gives policymakers the ammunition to press for changes within their own administrations.
What makes an entrepreneur? When we lived on St Helena in the late 1980s, we were friends with a young American couple. They, like us, were starting off in life. One day they came round for coffee, and spotted my wife's Body Shop products. Our friends were intrigued: what was The Body Shop? Who was behind the idea?