I. Short Introduction
During the three months of February, March and April students from Spain, Indonesia and Canada have been working together in an activity called AIM2Flourish, whose aim is to make students gain knowledge and critical reflection on innovative flourishing businesses in the context of UN Sustainable Development Goals.
AIM2Flourish is an initiative of the Fowler Center for Businesses as an Agent of World Benefit at the Weatherhead School of Management. The main objective of the activity is “to steer future business leaders towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and a flourish world for all” , as stated in the official website.
The Sustainable Development Goals are part of a global agenda that contribute to the development of societies.
Thanks to them, businesses have the opportunity to develop and implement solutions and technologies from their activity that allow them to achieve the most important challenges in the world related to sustainability.
The activity has taken place remotely. We, the students, were divided into different groups, with which we have met weekly via zoom. The first meeting consisted of getting to know each other and presenting ourselves. It has been quite impressive to get to know people from so far just via zoom. At the beginning, it seemed a bit strange, but at the end, we managed the situation and got on well with each other. In the next sessions, we discussed the role of businesses in a sustainable world and the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals for the world. We also learnt about the specific SDGs our team was assigned to, as well as each company’s innovations and impact. This cross-cultural activity has made us analyze from different perspectives, different features of each company. Due to the cultural variety within the group, each of us has valued different aspects of solving social problems, which has given us a broader approach to understanding each business.
In order to get updated of the different assignments we had, we have used a shared platform called Google Classroom. We also created a WhatsApp group to keep in contact with each other every week. What is more, in the last session, we shared with each other our social network profiles to still keep in contact! We are now aware of how enriching this experience has been for all of us.
Every group was assigned a Sustainable Development Goal and with it, a list of companies that are committed to achieve different Sustainable Development Objectives thanks to the innovations they implement. All the companies we have analyzed have a common factor. Apart from the fact that they are all for-profit companies, they are all based on innovations that meet one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, all these innovations are embedded in the company and so, they can be easily replicable or scalable.
Despite their similarities in this way, each of the businesses operates in a different sector, which enriched our idea of positive business. Moreover, this fact has provided us with hope in the sense that developing positive innovations is not just something particular of a specific sector, but that it can be done from any perspective. To name a few, some sectors in which our companies operate are the construction sector, the hospitality sector, entertainment, manufacturing or education.
Our SDG was the first one, which aims to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. As the official website of the United Nations says, “more than 700 million people, or 10% of the world’s population, still live in extreme poverty today, struggling to meet the most basic needs such as health, education and access to water and sanitation, to name a few. The majority of people living on less than $1.90 a day live in sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, 2 poverty rates in rural areas are 17.2%; more than triple the same rates for urban areas” . Thus, the importance of this goal is reflected.
Fighting against poverty is the base of all the goals set in the agenda. At the end of the day, we all want to achieve a sustainable planet, where inequalities are reduced to the maximum extent possible. A sustainable planet allows people to satisfy their present needs without compromising the capacity of future generations. If we want to live in a sustainable world, we need to commit to social progress, economic growth and environmental equilibrium. In this way, fighting against poverty is crucial. Reducing poverty in the world means providing people with opportunities for their future in terms of health, education, human rights, protection or security.
Businesses play a crucial role in society. They are the main value contributors to a country and to the world. For this reason it is essential that they develop a compromise to improve society. We live in a complex and frenetic world, where many times we lose track of the actual important things. Sustainability is one of these things that we usually take for granted. At the end of the day, the SDGs are universal values that all of us should follow and be committed to comply with.
II. Description and comparison of the innovations
Today’s firms have changed their model to adapt to the current times surrounding them. At a time when short-termism is being displaced by long-term sustainability, the most innovative firms are seeking this balance between profit and sustainable responsibility. This is the case of the companies that we are analyzing in this paper. As we can see, they are companies located all over the world, companies that are distant from each other but united by the same objectives. These are the objectives of tackling key problems in society from the point of view of the contemporary firm, a key player in the current global context.
Gojek is a company that creates on-demand smartphone apps and offers services such as transportation, food delivery, digital payment, shopping and entertainment. This company connects customers with courier delivery and two-wheeled ride-hailing businesses. Their mission statement is: “Gojek is dedicated to creating and scaling up positive socio-economic impact on the ecosystem of users, driver-partners, business and micro-small-medium enterprise partners, as well as service providers”. We can link the company to the stakeholder theory as its strategy is based in creating a benefit for its immediate stakeholders and operates in their interest. This way the firm enhances the quality of life of citizens by tackling poverty and creating quality jobs.
Kytabu was founded in 2012 with an Android application that enabled teachers and students to rent curriculum textbooks using mobile money. The digital textbooks were preloaded onto a server then books were divided into chapters, and those chapters divided into topics. The fractured content was linked to individual animations and audio files that reduce the dependence of learners on teachers. The ubiquitous mobile money revolution in Kenya created the opportunity for content distribution that gave the low-income communities in the country that could not access quality learning resources an opportunity to do so. This can be linked to the agency theory as the individual is the one that has the power and the resources to develop its full potential, without being limited by other agents.
Grosche International is a family owned and operated business from Canada. They believe in making a difference through products that promote a healthy lifestyle. Their company brings the finest glass teapots, infuser tea mugs and coffee cups. Grosche products are sold to gourmet retailers, tea stores, bars, coffee shops and yoga studios. The most interesting thing about the company is that it is able to operate using only renewable energy and combates diseases in developing countries thanks to its innovative filters, furthermore they are also involved in many socially responsible projects such as planting trees. This can be linked to the institutional theory, as the company shows its resilience by creating a social structure that serves different needs of society and establishes authoritarian guidelines for social behavior.
As we can see, all these companies have a mission beyond earning a profit. Their founders created them as a way to solve a problem in society. For instance, the aim of Hotel con Corazón is to reduce poverty by reducing school dropout rates in the communities in which they are active in Latin America. Casa para Ensamblar is another example that co tributes to the solution of social and environmental problems. The main problem in Mexican society is the lack of housing for poor people. Thanks to this company, low-income people in Mexico are able to have access to decent housing by reducing the total construction cost to 60%. This innovation not only positively affected the cost, but also the environment. The founder developed a modular-profile housing part using a material called CPM, which has a high quality and low maintenance cost and is eco-friendly.
Another illustration of a company that wants to contribute to society is Brand solutions, whose activity is based on the production of eco-friendly items, thus reducing plastic waste. It works with three specific problems to which they wanted to give a solution; the first, the irrational use of plastic bags in the country, the second, the deforestation and the third one, the excessive use of plastic. As we see, all these three companies are related to SDG1, to fight poverty. Each company contributes to the reduction of poverty from its perspective but also tackling many other problems such as SDG13 and 7 in the case of Grosche, SDG8 in the case of Gojek or SDG11 in Casa para Ensamblar. Thanks to them, we realize the different perspectives from which we can help.
Overally, we think we can find many similarities in the different examples. We might think they are NGOs but in reality most of them are companies, so they are able to make a profit while helping the society in which they operate; creating very positive impacts, outcomes and sinergies. This is the case of Keys2Progress, an insurance company that recycles vehicles, makes conferences and gives some cars to war veterans that may be at high risk of poverty. This way it tackles the poverty problem (SDG1) but also other social issues such as climate change.
In fact all of our enterprises are related with SDG1, for example CAUSEGAR is a social enterprise that makes clothes in Asia but treats its workers according to “human” standards, not exploding them. This same thing happens at Hogaru, a Colombian company that fights for the rights of women and their inclusion in the legal working system. This is a technological company that ensures that cleaning women in that country get contracts and work legally with social security. Even more traditional firms such as CEMEX, which is a building sector company (which are supposed to be non-environmental friendly and non-caring for poor people) is taking a social initiative to use their materials to build houses for poor people. So we can appreciate a common pattern: these firms are able to make money, provide a good service and also create a positive impact in society, tackling key issues such as poverty, environment, health or reduced inequalities.
III. Critical reflection essay (max 1500 words)
The story that we were assigned to analyze was based on an interview session held by some students from various universities in order to have a better understanding of many practitioners and experts as the founder or leader of a certain flourishing business.
The methodology that we used was qualitative research, in which data was acquired in an sporadic manner in order to develop a thorough knowledge of how the framework was formed. The significance of reflective writing as a development tool for
business students is widely known, and significant research has supported its utility in building leadership and communication abilities (Cathro et al, 2017). Gilbert and Sliep’s critical reflexivity framework on Dialogical Space, Values and Identity, Agency and Responsibility, Performance, and Power is a related theory that may be utilized to examine this story. When employing the reflexivity frameworks, the data is collected through a community survey, which is then analyzed to create a report. Those reports were carried out in order to perform a listening and learning process in order to establish the feeling heard, which can affect developing trust through genuine action.
Thus, the author’s foundation on how precisely we are examining the virtue underlying the story. What we have already learned from the debate is that the business was established in order to share prosperity with others. The Sustainable Development Goals number one, which is no poverty, are frequent subjects that were founded in those stories that led to the creation of specific projects and businesses in order to lessen the problem of poverty.
The story demonstrated how to help people who cannot be served as citizens to be productive in creating something, children who do not have easy access to education to learn, and veterans, poor, disabled, or immigrants who have lost hope to be able to contribute to society and have the ability to dream the future.
It is truly shifting on the method of doing business in this renowned capitalist way (Gilpin, 2018) when most conglomerates were ruling the world with power called money to generate more profit, while neglecting the people and earth. Thus, individuals were only concerned with how to be the first in their money, oblivious to the fact that the environment was deteriorating day by day, and that the population was unable to live appropriately.
In terms of the discussion process, the author came up with the notion after reading and comprehending all components of the stories in AIM2Flourish in order to develop a sense of what had already occurred. Thus, feelings create a fresh viewpoint on how we should think and suggest new business ideas, which are then encouraged by spirit to be implemented in the real world to have a greater impact on larger areas or a water wave. It is inline to how Borton’s framework (1970) was built by describing three forms of questions “what, so what, and now what” series, a continuous integrated law that came out of attempts to systematize intuition.
The process is based on how the three human anatomy were operated, such as Brain, the place to generate ideas in order to make human think about how a specific problem can be solved and create a better impact with mutualism benefit; Hearth, the place to experience the dream where human can feel and get sympathy and empathy through specific story; and Hand, the place to execute specific action by applying in real situation to create a new story that may respect the others. The concept was related through the context of lifelong learning, which incorporates all three domains of learning cognitive (brain), emotional (heart), and psychomotor (hands), as well as numerous learning styles, techniques, methods, and processes (Gazibara, 2013).
Specifically, the notion of the story that the author analyzes is on how those entrepreneurs were able to develop the firm that not only benefited them personally but also helped others to escape poverty and achieve that affluence. To every part of society that appears to be overlooked by the government, including persons who have not received their rights well. In general, the idea was simple and imitable, but the execution and impact were incredible, and the continued progress was able to differentiate it from other business models. After acquiring a sense of how the business was run, the notion may be developed by others by studying, replicating, and modifying those ideas to create a new business model to expand into other areas.
IV. Our work as a distributed team: lessons learned
The development of the era continues to develop in industry 4.0 where various problems in the world must be solved and find the best solution in an effort to become a world that lives in peace. One of the drivers is change, namely with knowledge and awareness that is honed in high education universities.
A new breakthrough by collaborating with IPMI University with University Navarra (Spain), University Guelph (Canada) in changing suitable thinking with the theme “Innovative Flourishing Business in the context of the UN SDG” how this international class program is divided into various groups and discusses companies that have an impact on social matters and how do we see the opportunity to create a company with the problems that exist in the environment around us, so that a good business is not only thinking about profit but thinking about the good impact it will have on the surrounding environment.
The international class started with all students and professors joining and dividing the group with directions on how important a sustainable mindset is to run this program, at the beginning of the group formation we introduced ourselves to each other and got to know each other more deeply and after that we created a group to make it easier to communicate with others. good regarding this class international program,the most important thing we do is arrange how the next meeting for the group discusses the questions that have been prepared and discussed well by the group, because there is a time difference between Indonesia and Spain.
One aspect of carrying out the discussion well is holding a commitment that we divide the time to discuss the SDGs and each of our members holds the trust and commitment so that it goes well, we discuss what we want to discuss before recording the video so that we have a quality chat. and each has a purpose, each offering an opinion, good direction, and advice if something isn’t right.
Different cultures make it difficult for us to combine thoughts and opinions, but by respecting one another, it becomes much more comfortable. There are also different perspectives between students from Asian countries and students from European countries, which is a challenge that should be met with success.the way we deal with our different perspectives is not to prioritize emotional, flexibility and empathy thats mean we understand each other that the solution that will emerge is with our creative thinking with a flexible mindset which considers alternative ways of thinking that are liberating and creative, and empathy is one of the The key solution is to understand the situation or understand the concept from a different point of view, it’s proven that we don’t have problems with differences of opinion or communicating in groups.
Experience in an international class where having a group whose members from various opinions makes it an extraordinary experience, but after what we have missed there is an evaluation that must be improved, namely when the discussion is running we use the language of each country to explain friends who do not understand or explain in more detail, but this is not a big problem but simply needs to be fixed. Furthermore, we attempt to have each team member have a clear job desk and collect from each job desk in a timely manner based on the weekly report collection time and the busyness of each team member. Each participant who has his or her own activity contributes to one of the assessments that we must remain constant and focused on completing each assignment until this program is correctly completed.
Includes challenges and evaluations in discussions about the SDGs with groups whose members are from various countries, this made an extraordinary experience for us where we were able to establish our relationship with the fact that we had exchanged contacts on Whatsapp, Instagram, and linkedin is proof that our group maintains a good relationship and is very welcome one of us wants to visit the country of one of our group’s members.
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