A company cannot succeed in a society that is failing. These words, spoken by Sanda Ojiambo, head of corporate responsibility at Safaricom, crystallise the core message of the inaugural Africa Shared Value Summit. Taking place in Johannesburg this week, the summit brings together business, the government and academia to explore best practice in the field of shared value — a concept dubbed by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter in the Harvard Business Review. "Shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy or sustainability, but a new way for companies to achieve economic success," Porter wrote in 2006. In achieving its success, Safaricom has transformed Kenya’s economy through its mobile money application, M-Pesa, which has enabled widespread financial inclusion. Porter argues for shared value’s potential to "reshape capitalism and its relationship to society". Following the global crisis, many have accused big business of earning profit at the expense of socie...

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