Johannesburg-based firm Shift Social Development is seeking to expand investments by large established businesses into social good for profit.

The initiative dubbed Shared Value Africa Initiative looks to encourage businesses to expand their social goods initiative from philanthropy to include sustainable business models that benefit both consumers and businesses.

“This idea of creating shared value comes from work that we have done at Harvard Business School and it is rooted in the idea that companies can create value for themselves and for society at the same time, that companies can be a very powerful force for addressing societal challenges,” says co-founder and managing director of non-profit consulting firm FSG Mark Kramer.

“This idea of creating shared value has been very powerful all over the world but we have realised that social challenges are different in different parts of the world. And the local business leaders who can get involved are different and so the Africa Shared Value Initiative is an ongoing project to identify opportunities for shared value, to bring African business leaders together to understand shared value and to implement shared value strategies,” he added.

Interested businesses can attend the SVAI summit that took place on Thursday and Friday as well as enrol as members of the SVAI access a network of businesses with which they can collaborate, optimise business value chains and access research on African businesses.

SVAI could not disclose the cost of membership. The cost of attending the summit ranged from Sh18,500 for students and NGOs to about Sh37,000 for a two-day ticket.

Safaricom is among the founding members for SVAI. Other members include Enel Green power, Discovery, Barclays(Absa) and UAP Old Mutual (Old Mutual SA).

“We had a very interesting discussion with senior executives at Nation Media Group. Media can help to reduce social problems not just by reporting on the problem but reporting on effective solutions that people have found to that problem,” said Mr Kramer.