May 13, 2015

Leaders applaud Yara’s shared value approach

Yara Africa strategy was featured as the keynote business case study when top corporate CEOs gathered at the Shared Value Leadership Summit in New York on 11-13 May.
Shared Value Initiative
Shared Value Initiative

The Yara case study was used as a prime example on how the private sector is developing its strategies to take societal needs into consideration. The study was written by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter, who is the leading authority on strategy and competitiveness.

“This is as good a case on Creating Shared Value as I can ever imagine,” said Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School, Mark Kramer, after presenting a range of hurdles and results that Yara came across in partnering to develop Tanzania’s agricultural sector. Kramer is also the founder of consultancy firm FSG.

Creating win-win situations

The business case study shows how Yara creates shared value in Africa. By connecting smallholder farmers with the infrastructure that provided better access to markets, Yara grew the economic development in rural farming communities—and increased sales.

“It is very inspiring for Yara to be the subject of a case study by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer at the Harvard Business School. Shared value describes how it is possible to align shareholder and societal interests, thereby creating win-win situations,” said Terje Tollefsen, Yara’s Head of Strategy and Business Development, who responded to the case at the event’s “Partners' Day”.

Michael Porter and Mark Kramer argue that shared value can be a driver for a successful business strategy. Yara’s case will be part of the curriculum taught at Harvard executive classes.

Multiplying yields sustainably

The audience responded actively and positively to the case study, engaging on discussions about how post-harvest losses could occur in a country with low yields and huge hunger, and why educating the farmers and building roads is not be enough to transform the agricultural sector – i.e. Yara’s market.

To Yara, delivering its business solutions for improving agricultural productivity in a sustainable way is an important part of growing the company’s business. Engaging in Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is one area where Yara is leading the industry forward. The company helps farmers, policy makers and major food and brewery companies reduce their carbon footprints.

Speaking on this topic, Yara’s Senior VP Global Initiatives Strategy & Business Development Sean De Cleene participated in a panel discussion on CSA alongside representatives from the Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto, the Sustainable Food Lab and National Australia Bank. Sharing examples on how CSA is already being implemented, Sean De Cleene highlighted how Yara combines a set of strategic goals:

“In Tanzania the scientific project Environmentally and Climate Compatible Agriculture, the ECCAg, documented how yields can multiply without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Now we have started looking into how we can add this knowledge to the wider context, and the partnership platform SAGCOT, to create inclusive and sustainable growth,” said Sean De Cleene.

Under the slogan ‘Business at its Best’, this fifth consecutive year of Shared Value summits focused on how to generate new business solutions to social issues.

What is shared value?

“The concept of shared value can be defined as policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates. Shared value creation focuses on identifying and expanding the connections between societal and economic progress.” – Michael Porter and Mark R. Kramer (2011)

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