Businesses should partner with communities to create social value

Dong Won Lee - LG EA Managing Director-min

By Dong Won Lee

A sustainable, responsible business continuously embraces sound practices that positively impact its stakeholders and the environment. Promoting social entrepreneurship is one way through which businesses could contribute positively to communities. When communities thrive, businesses prosper, and the world is a much better place.

Social entrepreneurship refers to activities by individuals or groups that are geared to solving social and environmental problems using innovative approaches that change lives. They aim to create social value, defined as daily life experiences that bring about desired change in the community, society and nation.  

Businesses can be powerful drivers of social value through partnering with communities in mutually beneficial activities. Imagine a world where business is all about making profit without caring about people and the Planet? Without positive social value, enterprises would be like a boat floating on a lake that is slowly drying up. Eventually, the boat cannot sail.

Therefore, businesses must go beyond profit. While creating value for shareholders remains an important goal, promoting social good is equally critical, as it guarantees the goodwill every firm needs to remain profitable and sustainable in the long run.

By working with stakeholders at the grassroots level to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits, companies enable communities to grow and prosper, creating the conditions for them (companies) to generate the financial rewards their investors desire but in a sustainable manner.

Social value must directly impact the daily lives of the beneficiaries. Take the case of a group of young people who came together to build a digital library in the village or neighborhood with the goal of enhancing learning experiences and to enable talented young individuals advance their artistic talents. An initiative like this addresses the twin problems of lack of valuable skills and youth unemployment, both real problems afflicting millions of young people in Kenya.

Yet this is exactly what a group called, Little Deep Voice Within, operating in Nairobi’s Kariobangi informal settlement, did with support from LG Electronics. The success of the community project is testimony that private firms can play a catalytic role in building social enterprises that transform lives and communities. 

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a real problem in many families today. A group of courageous Kenyan women rallied those around them to combat this menace through public awareness campaigns. LG supported this initiative by equipping a full-fledged training center to empower community members with the skills and knowledge to fight GBV.

Such participatory approaches to creating social value contribute to the global inclusion agenda as captured in the Sustainable Development Goal number 16 on the establishment of peaceful and inclusive societies.  

Through the LG Ambassador Challenge, various communities in Kenya have benefited from the powerful effect of collaboration with the private sector in driving the inclusion agenda. Some of the initiatives focus on social needs, like one involving installing water storage facilities thus sparing hundreds of residents of Makueni County, the agony of walking tens of kilometers in search of this precious commodity.

As a responsible corporate citizen, LG social contribution is not a one-off affair but is designed to deliver maximum positive value through partnership with our stakeholders in pursuit of a vision of a better life for all. LG Better Life Plan 2030 embraces inclusive social values as one of the key tenets, going as far as designing and making products that cater for the needs of all consumers including persons living with disabilities.

Whether it is tackling hunger, providing education opportunities for children with special needs, and supporting health, culture, sports and environmental initiatives, availing transformational opportunities for disadvantaged groups and communities is the first step towards creating the change we desire. When all members of society feel supported, the future is brighter for companies.

Mr. Lee is the Managing Director, LG Electronics East Africa 

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