In June, six ALU students had the opportunity to attend Nestlé’s Creating Shared Value conference to discuss how to create a strong and sustainable Africa through nutrition, water and rural development. They share their experience below.
Sunday, June 19, 08:13 PM, Plaine Magnien, Mauritius.
It was a rather chilly evening but the excitement and eagerness to take off from Mauritius to Dubai and then Côte d’Ivoire kept us warm. The seven hour long flight ahead did not matter, because we knew that in less than 24 hours, we would be on the other side of the African Continent engaging in conversations about investing in sustainability in Africa, our dear motherland.
“Cabin crew, prepare for takeoff” said the captain and in three, two, one… we were up in the air. Côte d’Ivoire, here we come!
Monday, June 20, 5:00 PM, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
A few hours after we arrived in Abidjan, we participated in a blogging session themed “Agriculture and Youth.” It was facilitated in French by Mauricio Alarcón, Head of Nestle in Côte d’Ivoire and we brainstormed ways we could use digital innovation solutions to attract young Africans to agriculture. We also looked at how literacy and the empowerment of women are important issues that if boosted will create shared value.
Tuesday, June 21, 09:20 AM, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
The conference opened on Tuesday with ALU Founder, Fred Swaniker declaring the official start. Attendees included, Daniel Kablan Duncan, Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, H.E. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and president of the Kofi Annan Foundation, Mr Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestlé and us! Six millennial youth taking seats at the first ever Creating Shared Value (CSV) Forum in Africa and the seventh for Nestlé.
The concept of shared value was first introduced in the Harvard Business Review by economist Professor Michael Porter. We spent the day understanding what creating shared value is and how it is different from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). According to Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestlé, “CSV really comes down to one thing: respect for future generations, for our consumer, suppliers, the environment, and for the many diverse communities in which we operate at the same time.”
This is what makes it different from CSR. While CSV is based on respect, CSR rests on an obligation to the society. With the latter, companies are obliged to work with a philanthropic mindset without expecting a value in return from the society it serves. As Kofi Annan suggests, although a business can be successful if it creates value to the society, it will never be able to succeed in a society that fails.
In our fast-paced world, CSV is not restricted to one particular sector and can be applied everywhere. It however needs to rely on innovative and creative approaches to differentiate it from CSR. A business that seeks to create shared value must first, be ready to divorce ideas, change them, and better them.
We also spoke about how the African continent’s growth is dependent on both demographic and material untapped resources. When it comes to agriculture, Africa can no longer rely on importing food, but can tackle food sufficiency via creating opportunities for Africans and increasing cooperation between its countries. On the side of agriculture, we need to make it “cool” for youth to be engaged. In line with Monday’s “Agriculture and Youth” blogging session, Professor Fatima Haram Acyl, the commissioner for Trade and Industry at the African Union Commission emphasised what it means for agriculture to be tech-driven for young people to want develop the sector without going outside of Africa.
The conference ended with conversations on the need for regional trade amongst African countries.
June 23, 04:55 PM, Plaine Magnien, Mauritius
We are back on our island. Jetlagged, knowledgeable, inspired and ready to be the change in our own lives and in the lives of people in our circles of influence.
As we waited for our luggage, the learnings from Abidjan kept running through our minds. What’s left is our task to spread the word about creating shared value to our classmates and in turn, the youth across the continent.
“We have everything to succeed, let’s live up to this society,” H.E. Kofi Annan.
This article was written by Amina Alaoui Soulimani, Samuel Kanu and Eric Maingi on behalf of Wiem Boubaker, Jules Maurice Mulisa and Olivier Ndiaye.