Nobel Peace Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus’ organisation Yunus Social Business, together with partners at the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the Porticus Foundation, have launched an ambitious platform to bring these corporate social intrapreneurs together to learn from each other and scale - the Unusual Pioneers.
Using the resources, expertise, and assets of the company, dedicated employees are developing solutions to social and environmental problems —with a business model at their heart. These “social intrapreneurs” take on an entrepreneurial role within their company and, with the CEO’s blessing, they are creating social businesses, which are 100% focused on solving a societal problem and reinvesting profits. The Unusual Pioneers is a platform created solely to support these social intrapreneurs.
“Large corporations are finally feeling the pressure to do better for the societies they serve. But it's a movement coming from their employees. We started researching these emerging social intrapreneurs, and found that the single most important thing we could provide them with is a platform to connect with each other. When you are doing something against the grain, it’s so important to know there are others out there like you.” Saskia Bruysten, CEO & Co-Founder at Yunus Social Business.
“Citizens, activists and young people are crying out for strong action, requiring complex changes within businesses. We have seen this call answered by a committed group of social innovators acting as internal agents of change. These social intrapreneurs develop new products, services, and business models that create value both for society and their companies in ways that are built to last, while striving for the internal changes needed towards realising stakeholder capitalism.” François Bonnici, Head of Social Innovation at the World Economic Forum and Director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.
The Unusual Pioneers cohort will be led through an extensive curriculum, peer-to-peer exchange and mentoring to scale their initiatives with the help of partner organisations including Acumen, Impact Hub, The UNDP’s Business Call to Action, Fundaçao Dom Cabral, League of Intrapreneurs, Craigberoch Business Decelerator and many more. See the full cohort of the corporate social intrapreneurs announced today at Global Intrapreneur Week:
Garance Wattez-Richards is CEO of AXA Emerging Customers, a business she founded that provides insurance products aimed at low-income communities. Established in 2016, they cover over 22 million people across the world, ranging from migrants, small retail merchants, smallholder farmers and gig economy workers.
Agnes Weil - Director of Sustainability and Philanthropy at Club Med. Club Med are organising lasting supply relationships with local farmers who live in the proximity to their resorts and are thereby helping to reduce poverty and protect the local environment. They are already working in six countries and have been highlighted as a best practice by the World Tourism Organisation of the UN.
Ruchika Singhal, Vice President, Global Health at Medtronic Labs. Medtronic is running a social business which helps some of the most vulnerable patients access vital healthcare across West Africa, & East Africa, and Southern Asia. They are expanding access to healthcare for people living with non-communicable diseases. Ruchika told us “I’m at a company that has the resources, the capabilities, the talent and the ideas. If we don’t step up to solve these challenges and play a meaningful role, who will?”
Gisela Sanchez, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at FIFCO. Nutrivida is a social business committed to eradicating ‘hidden hunger’ in the world by selling highly nutritional food products at an affordable price. So far they have provided food for more than 2.3 million people at a very low cost in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The social business is now financially independent from the parent company FIFCO.
Cristina Campos, Head Integrated Access Programs & Markets at Novartis. Cristina is currently working on transforming health in lower-income populations. Associated solutions focus on providing access to quality healthcare, medicines and health education – and have reached 70 million patients across 18 countries to date.
Lisa Neuberger, Managing Director, Strategy & Innovation for Corporate Citizenship at Accenture. Lisa and her team created Social + Eco Innovators to harness the power of Accenture talent collaborating with pioneering clients, suppliers, start-ups, and NGOs to tackle pressing societal and environmental challenges.
Benoit Bonello, Social Innovation Director at Suez. Benoit leads Suez’s business branch dedicated to inclusion and delivering access to essential services of water, sanitation and waste for low-income populations, via Suez’s own business solutions and through partnerships with social entrepreneurs.
Juddy Gichuki, Senior Manager, Corporate Strategy at Safaricom. Juddy is leading the charge to transform Safaricom from the renowned Kenyan telecom firm into a purpose led technology company. She is implementing a cloud based platform to connect informal businesses and SMEs to payment services to make payment services more accessible to all.
Saad Arshad, Senior Manager Program & Research at HBL Habib Bank. Saad’s initiative ‘Food to Fork’ is building a sustainable value chain of partners to uplift the rural areas in Pakistan by providing smallholder farmers with access to training, machinery and the financial services they need to succeed.
Saulo Di Pizzo, Head of Social Innovation & Community Engagement at Givaudan. Saulo is establishing a social innovation space in Givaudan, empowering employees and to create new business opportunities to address social and environmental challenges.
Sharda Gautam, Zonal Head-North at Tata Trusts. The initiative from Tata Trusts blends both professional and life skills training, as well as a platform that showcases a curated collection of handwoven goods crafted by women weavers and artisan entrepreneurs.
Ritesh Agarwal, Assistant Vice President at Educational Initiatives, which is an Ed-tech organization that builds products that focus on diagnostic assessment and personalised learning to ensure that students learn with understanding.
Nicola Galombik, Executive Director at Yellowwoods Ventures Investments is currently Incubating and growing social enterprises and system change innovations.
Salah Goss, Senior Vice President, Global Markets Humanitarian & Development at Mastercard. Salah is leading the Center for Inclusive Growth, which leverages the businesses core competencies to produce independent research, scale global programs, and empower communities of thinkers enabling access to sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world.
India has an enormous population of 1.4 billion, within it there are a staggering amount of people who live rurally with no access to a reliable or regular electricity supply. Roughly a third of the planet’s electricity deficit is in India with only 82% of its inhabitants having access to electricity – meaning a total of 239 million people are left in darkness (as of 2016).
This Christmas, it’s more important than ever to support social businesses. At a time when it may feel easier to shop online at the major online retailer ‘who shall not be named’, why not take a bit of time to find a social business which benefits a local community?
Humanity is working together to fight this pandemic. It is encouraging to see how within weeks people have fundamentally changed their long-held habits like shaking of hands.