moladi – The power in “game-changer”

moladi – The power in “game-changer”

via moladi – The power in \\\”game-changer\\\” – Business Fights Poverty.

Here’s a dilemma: You are the owner of a construction company and to expand  your market, you need to go into neighborhoods where clients can’t pay the  typical construction costs; where there is a dearth of skilled labour and where  it is nearly impossible to transport the materials typically associated with  your conventional construction methods. You ask yourself: Why make the effort – is the ‘juice worth the squeeze?’

This was the situation faced by Moladi,  a South African family-owned business. Sure, there was a demand for new  construction – after all, affordable housing in low-income areas can provide a  pivotal asset and source of stability that can pull a family out of poverty. In  fact, many families were trying to build houses on their own, leading to  sub-standard construction and often dangerous living conditions

Moladi, however, was ready to rise to the challenge. They put a lot of ‘skin  in the game’ from a technological innovation perspective, and in the process  designed a new construction material to meet the constraints of the target  market – a removable, reusable, recyclable, and lightweight  plastic formwork mould, which when filled with aerated mortar, could  form the wall structure of a house in as early as one day. Better yet, each set  of Moladi formwork panels could be reused 50 times, without electricity, and by  unskilled labourers.

This was a game-changer for Moladi as a company. The new formwork mould technology now makes up the majority of the company’s business, and is being  exported to other markets such as Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. By taking an  informed risk and creating an innovative new product, Moladi not only improved  their company’s financial position, but also played a catalytic role in the  lives of many families in poverty.

This is one of the many transformational stories on how companies unlock  their potential by expanding their businesses in emerging markets. Like Moladi,  they are looking beyond typical CSR efforts to understand how they can create a  new business opportunity, by better understanding and meeting critical social  needs.

And like Moladi, businesses which are successful in these efforts do so by  being intentional in what they hope to achieve (for example, understanding the  social constraints and how a strategy can address them) and support it with  resources and leadership time commiserate with a significant new business  strategy.

So the real question isn’t ‘to build or not to build?’ but rather ‘to  innovate or not to innovate?’ We’re finding that game-changing companies have  realised they can’t afford to not innovate with shared value strategies while  approaching emerging markets.

Moladi is just one of thirty success stories we came across while conducting  research for Shared Value in Emerging Markets, a white paper written  in partnership with the Rockefeller  Foundation to explore how multi-national corporations could play an  increasingly valuable role in addressing social issues across emerging  markets.

Like Rockefeller, FSG is committed to learning more about how companies can  play a transformational role in reversing the downward social trends we are  seeing in many communities. In fact, another joint effort with the Rockefeller  Foundation (among others), the Shared Value Initiative, was featured last week as a Commitment to Action for the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting.

This is only the beginning of the journey and we invite you to share your  thoughts. If you have additional ideas on how shared value is being created in  emerging markets, or pre-conditions for success, we’d love to hear them and  incorporate them into the continuing dialogue.

By Patty Russell, FSG Director (Patty is a part of  FSG’s leadership group and leads the Catalytic Philanthropy approach area. She has over 12 years’ experience in advising corporations, private foundations, and non-profit  organisations on strategy, programme design, evaluation, and operational  improvement.)

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