Rob Katz

“Next Billion” Thinking and Big Business

Guest blogger Bill Kramer was, until recently, WRI’s Director of Education and Training for the Markets & Enterprise Program, and Deputy Director of Development Through Enterprise. He now runs Global Challenge Network, an executive education and training company. His email is
By Bill Kramer

It should be a source of considerable satisfaction to WRI’s Markets and Enterprise team and to the NextBillion community in general that the ideas we have all been exploring these last several years are being used as a frame of reference by senior business executives. I write this blog entry from Fontainebleau, France, at the conclusion of a one-day conference called “Understanding and Responding to Societal Expectations on Corporate Responsibility.” This event launched the final Project Response report of EABIS, the European Academy of Business in Society — a 5 year effort of multiple companies and universities, with support by the European Commission.In a plenary session, Jean-Philippe Courtois, President, Microsoft International, and Sandy Ogg, Chief HR Officer and Member of Global Executive Committee, Unilever, both defined their companies’ contributions to corporate responsibility in the framework of real business enterprises directed to low-income customers — the next billions to benefit from business engagement that delivers accessibility to quality products, affordably (my emphasis). Both mentioned how they had to develop new products and services, and to adopt new business models to succeed.

This conference brought together EU officials, academics, and businesspeople from all over Europe. The report itself makes interesting reading, and I commend the executive summary to you. I will report a bit more on its findings in a future blog.