Long Read

Secret Recipe

Fourth Course from our Learning Bites Series

Secret Recipe
Business of Impact in Venice was a smash but the feast is not over! We continue to serve you small portions of great wisdom on the topic of corporate social investing.


The future of sustainable business 

Some of the most progressive companies and corporate social investors are starting to complement the unique strengths and opportunities of individual impact initiatives to create more holistic impact approaches. That means impactful benefits for companies:

1. Companies make smarter use of their Corporate Social Investors (CSIs). who can serve as learning labs and raise awareness about disruptive social innovations that are relevant for the business in the long-term.   

2. Companies leverage their CSIs’ insights about the needs of low-income communities, a frequent beneficiary of CSI initiatives, to adopt more inclusive and sustainable business practices.   

3. Companies look to their CSIs for scalable social solutions, with the end goal of helping social enterprises develop robust business models.

These are some of the benefits of collective corporate impact strategies. But how does it work?

Developing successful collective corporate impact strategies

The key is to align the company and its corporate social investors on a common vision. This is the cornerstone to enable complementarity in which each organisation enhances the work of each other.

The objective of this novel approach is to enable companies and CSIs to combine different financial instruments (grants, loans and equity) and areas of expertise (incubation, scaling business models) in order to develop more holistic and systemic strategies for social change.

Collective corporate impact strategies can take different forms, depending on the organisational context and the social challenge. Let’s have a look at the three types we identified at EVPA.

The Scope Strategy

Vodafone Institute for Society & Communications - Case Study

Companies and CSIs aspiring to broaden their impact should explore the scope strategy. They realise that there are multiple social causes where corporate resources and capabilities can have an impact on society and thus address various social challenges related to their common vision.

This strategy enables them to

> pioneer innovations and social solutions in various areas;     
> engage a broader range of stakeholders;     
> consolidate corporate purpose by signalling a far-reaching commitment;     
> build learning labs for the business, identifying long-term trends.

The Scale Strategy

Rabo Foundation Case Study

Companies and CSIs aspiring to scale the impact of particular social solutions should explore the scale strategy. They build an enabling environment for social innovations or enterprises to grow and succeed, by offering continuous support from incubation to maturity.

This strategy enables them to

> bridge the valley of death by drawing on the continuum of capita, enabling a successful exit;   
> help the company spot scalable social innovations and services with business relevance;   
> create a pipeline of investable social innovations and services;   
> help investees scale their impact through the company’s value chain.

The Depth Strategy

Schneider Electric Case Study

Companies and CSIs aspiring to provide deeper support to particular communities should explore the depth strategy. It addresses different root causes and challenges the final beneficiaries face to provide more holistic support and instigate long-term change.

This strategy enables them to

> instigate profound and long-term social change for particular communities;   
> build an enabling environment around a social challenge;   
> create a learning lab for the company’s inclusive business journey;   
> build the right conditions to accelerate the development of pre-commercial markets with business relevance.