Collaboration with social enterprises is a new trend among Fortune 500 companies as they look for ways to grow their businesses while also making a difference in the world. A recent example includes four Fortune 500 brands that work with various social enterprises: IKEA, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, and The Coca Cola Company. These collaborations help these corporations reach both business and society goals such as helping people out of poverty and creating jobs worldwide. This strategy also helps them stay competitive by winning over new consumers.
For example, IKEA has partnered with two social enterprises, Green Dot Cambodia and HomeNet Thailand, to train people for jobs in the furniture industry. These partnerships will help employ people who were at risk of living on less than $1 per day.
Johnson & Johnson's partnership is with Living Goods, a startup created by researchers from Stanford University. They plan to help reduce child mortality rates in Uganda through an SMS-based network of community health workers called Community Health Promoters. More than 80 percent of Ugandan households have cell phones, so this method makes sense.
Microsoft joined hands with Samasource, an organization that provides digital work to unemployed women and youth in developing countries. This partnership will help Microsoft reach its goal to provide opportunities for 1 million people by the end of 2014 through employment or training.
The Coca-Cola Company's collaboration is with KickStart International (KickStart), a social enterprise that creates jobs and enterprises in sub-Sahara Africa, which was founded in 2003 by Martin Fisher. The goal is to create economic opportunity so communities can break out of the poverty cycle. One example is KickStart's irrigation pump called the MoneyMaker, which helps smallholder farmers increase their maize yields sixfold so they can trade crops for income.
It will be interesting to see what kind of impact these companies achieve through this collaboration with social enterprises.
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