Tag Archives: business leadership

James Mwangi

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A 2020 Honouree leading one of the most inclusive banks in the world with inclusion at its core.

 

 

James Mwangi talking to crowd of people

 

Dr. James Mwangi is one of Africa’s most renowned entrepreneurs. He is credited with democratizing financial access by giving the unbanked population opportunities for broader economic participation. He has led Equity to become an integrated financial services group operating in 6 African countries with a client base of over 14 million. Mwangi’s ability to merge economic theory to the practical realities of village life enabled him to revolutionise the banking industry in Africa. Today, Equity is one of the most inclusive banks in the world with clients across the socio-economic spectrum including youth and women.

 

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“I dedicate this Award to our staff and to the millions of our customers who have continuously inspired us by trusting and believing in our common purpose and dream, that together we can solve our problems by seeking innovative solutions anchored on shared value and prosperity,” said Mwangi. “I share this award with our micro, small and medium entrepreneurs who wake up every day to create wealth and opportunities for our society. This Award is a great inspiration to all Africans to believe in their dreams and to pursue them with dedication and conviction that together, we can change our continent within our lifetime.”

 

James Mwangi receives the Award for his businessworthy values in championing financial inclusion for all. The Committee sees him as a shining example of how business leaders can accelerate change and help solve the world’s problems.

 

 

James Mwangi talking to a large crowd of schoolchildren

Marc Benioff

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A 2020 Honouree leading a successful global company while advocating for equality and stakeholder capitalism. 

 

Marc Benioff giving a speech

 

 

Marc Benioff is Chair, CEO and Founder of Salesforce and a pioneer of cloud computing. He is a member of the World Economic Forum (“WEF”) Board of Trustees, Benioff serves as the inaugural Chair of WEF’s Forum Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco.

Salesforce founded the 1-1-1 or “Pledge 1%” model of corporate philanthropy, which dedicates 1% of Salesforce’s equity, employee time or product back into the communities it serves. This pledge has so far generated more than $280 million, millions of employee volunteer hours, and technology to nonprofits and schools worldwide.

 

World Economic Forum Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary

Photo: World Economic Forum Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary

 “It is a great honor to be recognised by the Business for Peace Foundation, which recognises that businesses have profound responsibilities to all our stakeholders, including our communities and our planet,” said Marc Benioff, Chair & CEO, Salesforce. “As more companies embrace stakeholder capitalism and commit to meeting the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, we see that business is the greatest platform for change.”

 

Mr Benioff receives the Award for being an outspoken advocate of businessworthy values and leading Salesforce with social responsibility and equality at its core. Mr Benioff is passionate about redefining capitalism to work for all, and ensuring businesses have a positive impact on the societies in which they operate.

 

 

 

Felicitas ‘Joji’ Bautista Pantoja

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A 2020 Honouree providing sustainable livelihoods for indigenous and migrant peoples and building peace in conflict zones. 

Mrs. Pantoja in field with farmers

Mrs. Pantoja working with local farmers

 

 

“This recognition affirms that inclusive development can be a reality through social enterprise.” – Felicitas Pantoja. 

 

Mrs. Pantoja has dedicated her career to building peace in conflict zones and improving the lives of marginalised groups through economic stability. Based in the Philippines, Coffee for Peace uses coffee production as a tool to address the economic, environmental and peace issues prevalent in conflict-affected communities. Established in 2008, her peace-building missions started around the ritual of gathering over a cup of coffee. “I noticed that they served us coffee,” says Pantoja. “When there’s coffee served, they sit down, they talk more and there’s less fighting – and there’s less death. So coffee can now serve as a vehicle for peace.”

 

Today, Coffee for Peace provides sustainable livelihoods for Indigenous and migrant groups in rural areas, and has enabled over 880 farmers to escape poverty and build their coffee production capacity. Over 80% of the farmers in the community are women. The company’s focus is on sustainable agriculture, peace and reconciliation between religious groups, environmental protection and entrepreneurship. Coffee for Peace works closely with Business Call to Action, a program of the UNDP.

Mrs Pantoja has said of receiving the Award that “this recognition affirms that inclusive development can be a reality though social enterprise.”

 

Inspecting coffee beans

Coffee for Peace has trained over 880 farmers

 

 

Mrs Pantoja receives the Award for her businessworthy efforts in bringing peace and prosperity to conflict-affected communities in the Philippines. She and her team have built an inspiring social enterprise that empowers marginalised groups from different backgrounds, bringing these groups together while contributing to the sustainable development of the land. Mrs Pantoja demonstrates the significant impact that business can have when used as a vehicle for peace.

 

“Businesses are the most powerful and influential players. Businesses ought to be mindful of the responsibility to bring economic-ecological justice and harmony among human societies.”  – Felicitas ‘Joji’ Bautista Pantoja

 

 

Smiling with Coffee for Peace

Build back better business: a call to action by our Honourees

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We are proud to announce that 26 Oslo Business for Peace Award winners have come together to release a joint Call to Action statement calling to build back better business in the wake of the current pandemic.

Representing over 23 countries, this Call to Action is a united voice for business leaders in diverse sectors and across the globe.

 

 

 

 

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Being businessworthy in Beirut: Interview with CEO Sarah Beydoun

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah’s Bag is a Lebanese fashion house and social enterprise that empowers women,  employing over 200 prisoners, ex-prisoners and underprivileged women. Their artisan handbags have been spotted on the arms of Beyoncé and Amal Clooney, but now the company is navigating a dual crisis. 

 

In many parts of the world, the economic and political situation was already precarious before the pandemic outbreak. Producing and selling products in Lebanon has not been easy since the revolution began several months ago. This means that the current pandemic forced 2016 Business for Peace Honouree Sarah Beydoun to take on the complexities of a crisis on top of a crisis. We talked with the fashion designer and entrepreneur about how her company, Sarah’s Bag, is responding. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four women doing beadwork in a workshop

CEO Sarah Beydoun and a few of the artisans of Sarah’s Bag

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the situation in Lebanon?

For us, the pandemic has been able to inflict maximum damage on a country already going through one of the worst crises of its history. By the time we started quarantine in March, Lebanon was already months into the worst financial crisis the country has seen since the Civil War ended in 1991. 

As a social enterprise, the human element of our work is at the heart of what we do and everything that we create. We are involved in local initiatives to support the creative sector in Lebanon, because this feels like an existential crisis for all of us here. We don’t know where the country is heading. 

Sarah’s Bag has been in crisis mode for the past five months. We have been in business for 20 years. We have already weathered war and political and economic crises, but what we are experiencing now is unprecedented. I am in a crisis within a crisis.  

 

 

 

How has the pandemic affected your business?  How have you as a leader responded?

I had to be honest with my team and tell them that things are tough and are going to be tough for a while. We had to make difficult decisions as a team and a company. 

During the past five months, hundreds of businesses in Lebanon have gone bankrupt, or cut hours, salaries and jobs. Unlike others, I wanted to avoid lay-offs as much as I could. Now, we are operating at 10% of our capacity, so some of the team and I are on half salaries. However, for employees who are in the lower wage bracket, the salary cuts were less. 

We worked on a strategy to compensate for the local loss in sales by focusing on our online boutique in addition to focusing on the international market. The type of products people are buying are essentials and things for the home. We therefore plan to work on big pieces for home décor rather than for handbags. This way, I can keep all these artisans employed. 

 

Three women standing around a work table weaving

Photo courtesy Sarah’s Bag

 

 

What would you say to fellow business leaders about how to act during these times?

Consumers are more aware than ever of how brands treat their workers. Companies have to be careful not to be tone deaf during a crisis. People will be watching to see how these companies will react, and business as usual will no longer work. I do not think people will go back to this. This is the right time for businesses to think of the kind of impact they can have, and I hope this means an increase in social enterprises. 

Businesses have to find ways to protect their workers, especially in crisis. This means we have to focus on saving jobs as much as possible. This is more important than shareholder profits; these are the people behind the successes of the company. It would be incredibly sad and disheartening if there isn’t any kind of reevaluation of business values after this global disaster. 

I started from scratch. When you start from scratch, you can always do it again. A lot of businesses also are going to start listening to social demands, and other businesses are going to emerge as a response to social needs. 

 

 

Many people worry that this crisis will have a disproportionate impact on underprivileged groups. At the same time, there might be an opportunity to create a ‘new normal.’ How do you hope the world changes in the aftermath of this crisis?

We have to be in tune with what is happening around us. The crisis will impact a lot of underprivileged people. Everywhere in the world, this is going to impact those who have the least. There will be an opportunity to create a new normal. I hope people will emerge from this crisis and extract from it a new way of acting and living. 

 

A lot of nice things come out of a crisis. This pandemic has brought the world closer and people are looking for instances of hope, kindness, solidarity and humanity. These should also be business values and consumers will be watching to see how companies stepped up and had a positive impact during a crisis and these companies will be rewarded for it with loyalty after this difficult time is over. 

 

 

This interview is a part of a series highlighting #businessworthy efforts in response to Covid19. For more on Sarah Beydoun, visit https://sarahsbag.com/our-story/

Three artisans weaving and sewing

Sarah’s Bag provides opportunities to Lebanese women who would otherwise not have these opportunities. Photo courtesy Sarah’s Bag

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