Sharing is Caring

As part of our work in building the field and learning more ourselves about the strong force of CSV (Creating Shared Value), the Education & Youth practice has been exploring ways in which corporations can provide greater access to education around the world through CSV strategies. We’ve been reading the Center of Universal Education at Brooking’s: A Global Education Challenge: Harnessing Corporate Philanthropy to Educate the World’s Poor by Justin W. van Fleet.

In his report Justin points out the need for access to education on a global scale, especially in some of the poorest countries. “Of the 1.5 billion young people in the 12 to 24 age group, 1.3 billion live in developing counties (World Bank 2007) and there are more than 67 million children not enrolled in primary school around the world.” He goes on to discuss U.S. corporate philanthropy in global education. Here are some quick facts for your perusal:

  • AMOUNT OF GIVING: U.S. Corporations give $.5 billion/ year to education while giving $7 billion/year to global health related work, with most companies giving less than $1 million annually to education
  • TYPES OF GIVING: Most contributions are in the form of cash (70%) in comparison to in-kind donations (products and services) and most are not directed towards the geographic areas of highest need
  • WHO GIVES THE MOST: Out of the main sectors giving to education the energy and technology sectors give the most ($24 million combined) followed by consumer and materials companies
  • WHO GETS THE MOST: Emerging economies (China, Brazil, India) as well as Mexico receive the most funding, however geographical focus of funding depends by industry and its corresponding business ties to geography

Most companies’ reasoning for giving to education ties back to business needs. Some companies give to education to develop new global market opportunities, to build community relationships, or to develop the workforce in communities of operation, among a few. However, most companies are missing out on the big bets of giving to education and are losing the full potential of their giving both for their business and for the people they aim to impact. This is where CSV comes in.

Justin begins to probe in his report on the need for companies to start “leveraging their assets and minimizing liabilities. Education must be linked to education goals, assets linked to economic opportunities, and companies must innovate, influence product design, and develop reach and networks both amongst each other and within the communities they serve.”

A few off the top of my head CSV-like ideas include:

  • Technology companies (Microsoft, Vodafone, Motorola, Nokia) who already invest in global education, could develop hardware or software to use mobiles phones for learning. This would mean integrating new product software onto existing affordable phones or even developing new phone hardware that could generate a profit in emerging markets, and also have an impact on providing access to education in areas of most need 
  • Technology companies could cluster (and collaborate) together to develop a “package of services/products” that provide technology access in the classroom. For example: Cisco building a network infrastructure while Dell or Microsoft developing affordable technology solutions for learning
  • Chevron and Shell both invest in communities in which they operate such as the Niger Delta. Oil companies such as these could place an added focus on education programs, outside of the already funded STEM activities. By focusing on an education pipeline this could provide future return on investment. Company resources such as providing mentoring, and internships could also be leveraged to both serve the company’s future workforce development as well as community workforce development.

The one thing that struck me was the vast different in spending of U.S. companies into education versus health (7%), and I think part of it comes back to shared value. It seems a lot more apparent what the opportunities for health-investments might be (creating new demand for products, workforce health productivity) and it’s more apparent to companies, as so it seems. As we continue to brainstorm new CSV opportunities for global education, I turn to you! What shared value opportunities do you see for U.S. companies in global education?

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