Institute for Business in the Global Context

Where the World of Business Meets the World

Month: August 2016

How data promotes transparency and helps clean up “SDG-washing”

Performance data is often the best detergent for cleaning up SDG-washing. When companies make tangible commitments to the SDGs, and progress and outcomes can be tracked using objective metrics, there is an opportunity for external observers to evaluate the company’s actions and for company management to allocate resources and execute. If the SDGs are to be co-opted by a company’s branding department, we should have mechanisms to hold them accountable – with data on hand.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in The Guardian

Global Research Fellowship: $400+ Million to Create a Knowledge-Based Economy?

by Nadim Choucair (MALD 2016) and Thomas Flynn (MALD 2017)

With no warning, Banque du Liban, the Lebanese central bank, issued Circular 331 in August 2013. If you believe some people, the idea for the Circular came directly from the mind of BdL’s governor, who conceived of it while flying from New York City to Beirut. Others say that it was created at the behest of the Lebanese banks to allow them to invest some of their reserve capital. Whatever the case, the Circular — designed to spur economic growth and create more and better paying jobs — seeks to foster a “knowledge-based economy (KBE).” Essentially, the Circular is a guarantee scheme which encourages Lebanese banks — an economic pillar of the country, yet very risk averse — to invest up to 4% of their capital, amounting to at least $400 million, in startups, incubators, accelerators, and venture capital firms.

The "buzz" surrounding entrepreneurship in Lebanon is palpable

The “buzz” surrounding entrepreneurship in Lebanon is palpable

In summer 2016, we went to Lebanon to answer the question: Given the context of Lebanon, is Circular 331 the most effective way to improve access to finance and therefore to help create a knowledge-based economy?

Lebanon’s economy has struggled since 2010, its political institutions are ineffective, and its infrastructure is weak. The rise of the Islamic State and the war in Syria have scared away foreign investors and tourists, particularly those from the Gulf. Lebanon’s traditionally strong real estate and tourism sectors have subsequently faltered. Instead of focusing on these traditional sectors, the Circular builds on the wave of tech entrepreneurship, and corresponding support organizations, that emerged in Lebanon in the mid-2000s.

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Why SDG17 is an essential sustainable development goal

Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the 17th is the odd one out. As “Partnerships for the Goals”, it is the goal that helps you get to the other 16. For most businesses committed to sustainable development, however, this 17th goal may be the most essential – and challenging – to accomplish.

Read the full piece from Bhaskar Chakravorti in The Guardian

Global Research Fellowship: Entrepreneurship in Nunavik – A new way of sharing?

by Nathan Cohen-Fournier (MIB 2017)

To share: to allow someone to use or enjoy something that one possesses. We can share what we possess in substance such as food or toys. We can also share immaterial matter such as time, memories, or affection. The meaning of words evolves along with the context and culture in which societies operate. That is to say the transformation is continual.

Nunavik skyline

Nunavik skyline

For the past 50 days, I have been conducting a research project on entrepreneurship in Nunavik, the northern portion of Québec. Inuit account for approximately 90% of the region’s 12 090 inhabitants and live in 14 villages connected solely by air and maritime transport, when possible.

When I first arrived, I was craving to discover spiritual bonds uniting native peoples with nature. I believe in the interconnectedness of life and matter. I was initially disappointed to discover a community in many ways similar to the ones “down south,” so clearly distinct from its surrounding environment. Maybe the spirituality I was looking for expressed itself in a way which I had not expected. I couldn’t force the discovery of what I wanted.

That’s when I started to realize the extent of sharing in modern Inuit culture.

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 Tackling the SDGs: are business targets clear, measurable and down-to-earth?

I was struck by the rather unprecedented linking of arms recently at Cannes by CEOs of the advertising industry’s “big six” competitors; WPP, Dentsu, Havas, IPG, Omnicom and Publicis, announced they would commit to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to collectively build awareness and work with their clients in achieving them. Visionary commitments to sustainable development are inspiring and create halos for corporate brands. However, meaningful change will require companies to go beyond visionary intent or uplifting hashtags. Companies need to focus, declare specific targets and invest resources, people and time in a few, carefully chosen areas. Moreover, these priorities should be set at the very top of the organisation.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in The Guardian