Tear Down Walls to Build Better World


Note: In honor of Social Venture Network’s 25-year anniversary, the network is inducting 25 of its most innovative and influential leaders into its hall of fame Nov. 13 at Gotham Hall in New York City. To recognize these sustainable business pioneers, SVN’s news program, ‘Sustainable Solutions,’ is interviewing the hall-of-famers to celebrate their accomplishments and learn what more needs to be done. Read the whole series here.

A theory Ashoka has been testing through several years of on-the-ground implementation just received a significant accolade, winning a first place spot in an international long-term capitalism challenge co-sponsored by Harvard Business Review and McKinsey & Company.

Ashoka founder Bill Drayton says winning the 2012 Global Long-Term Capitalism Challenge, which convened more than 200 of the world’s most respected corporate executives, management consultants and leading social institutions, is a sign that Ashoka’s model to create Full Economic Citizenship “is ripe.”

The model pioneered by Ashoka’s Valeria Budinich makes the case for traditional business to collaborate with community sector organizations to solve problems neither sector can do alone.

Referring to the approach as “tearing down the walls,” Bill says the result is hybrid value chains that increase collaboration, productivity and invention in sectors where it’s needed most: affordable housing, agriculture, health, water, finance and nutrition security.

Bill says hyrbrid value chains work because business and community organizations bring complementary skills. Businesses bring scale, expertise in manufacturing and operations, as well as financing, while social entrepreneurs and organizations contribute lower costs, strong social networks and deep insights into customers and communities.

According to Bill, 600 of Ashoka’s nearly 3,000 fellows are working on advancing hybrid value chains, demonstrating impressive results that promise extraordinary growth.

For example, considering the fact that one-sixth of the world’s population lives in slums or squatter cities, Ashoka is pioneering hybrid values chains in housing.

In Latin America, Ashoka introduced a for-profit ceramic tile maker wanting to enter the low-income market for ceramics and home products to a community organization helping people displaced by armed conflict.

The two organizations collaborated on research and the development of a business plan that sees women in need of employment sell the products directly to potential customers. Without the need of a storefront, distribution costs were lowered, allowing for profits to be funneled to the women sales promoters and community partners.

In India, Ashoka is working with mortgage companies, for-profit housing developers and local citizen-sector groups to deliver affordable new apartments for the “informal” members of the local workforce. These consumers often have a steady source of income but lack proof of stability and therefore are ineligible for mortgage loans.

According to Bill, change and collaboration is vital to an organizations’ future success. Understanding how to be flexible and adaptive is also reaching a tipping point as the old business model of repetition can no longer suffice in a world that’s changing rapidly.

“If you’re organized for efficiency and repetition and things change that leaves you like a beached dinosaur. Instead, you need a very fluid, open team-of-teams architecture, which is the ecosystem you see emerging in Silicon Valley,” says Bill, adding the model is in line with Social Venture Network (SVN) and Ashoka.

For Ashoka’s ground-breaking work, Bill is being inducted into SVN’s Hall of Fame as a Visionary Social Entrepreneur.

SVN’s Hall of Fame celebration, which will recognize 25 SVN members for their pioneering contributions to the socially responsible business movement, takes place Nov. 13 in New York City.

This article written by AxiomNews.ca is part of a Social Venture Network series featuring its Hall of Fame honorees.


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Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley5 years ago

This sounds so hopeful, and exciting!

Angela N.
Angela N5 years ago


Phillipa W.
Phillipa W5 years ago

it almost sounds too simple. That's the trouble with our society currently - there are just too many invisible barriers which prevent the easiest and most trivial things from happening. It seems along the way they lost sight of the fact that society and "civilization" are to bring us together, and the many laws upon laws are there in order to make things fair for people and to benefit and to try to prevent injustice - not the other way around.

Rosemary G.
Rosemary G5 years ago

We need to keep religious institutions out of our private lives and family planning should be practiced World Wide..Just read " The Population Bomb" 1968 by Paul Ehrlich..Human animals are inherently stupid and that is why I firmly believe there must be intelligent life on other planets because I fail to find any here!

Carole H.
Carole H5 years ago

very interesting thank you - shows what we need is co-operation not as capitalism teaches - competition - a small point with major consequences

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V5 years ago

Thank you kindly

Anne F.
Anne F5 years ago

Glad to see publicity for those who think beyond this month's profit margin. Really, we must figure out how to include many more people in the economy.

John Hutcheson
John Hutcheson5 years ago

It'll be good until someone starts chiseling to protect the bottom line.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P5 years ago

sounds good

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

This is something I will be watching for. It sounds good right now.