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Amitava Chattopadhyay


Amitava Chattopadhyay
Emerging Market Multinationals - Amitava Chattopadhyay


sustainable development

Kolo Nafaso from a researcher’s perspective – highlights from Amitava Chattopadhyay

It’s been a long-standing interest of mine to understand how businesses can be a force for good. That desire stemmed from a conversation with a former classmate, a pioneer in social innovation, who cogently argued that there simply wasn’t enough money in the form of charitable giving to alleviate poverty on a global scale. Thus, the best way forward was for business to invest behind social innovation, also referred to as sustainability.
Kolo Nafaso – a new way of doing business in shea.

I was invited to give a talk at the executive committee meeting of AAK held in Singapore, in early 2018. In my conversations with senior sourcing representatives of AAK, I learned about the Kolo Nafaso programme and wanted to understand more deeply what AAK was doing in terms of creating a sustainable supply chain, working directly with the women from small-holder families in rural West Africa, who collected the shea kernels, the first link in the shea supply chain. My goal for learning more was threefold. First, there was my personal curiosity, the Kolo Nafaso programme seemed to be an interesting and meaningful initiative, that could impact poverty alleviation at scale. Second, I teach a class on strategies for social impact and profit, and this seemed to be an interesting example of just that, and I wanted to write a case study that I could use in my course. The third was that innovations like Kolo Nafaso pose challenges, since they require the balancing of two motivations: profit and social impact. They also require managing the differences in perspective across functions, within the organization. This hasn’t been studied in the management literature, and I saw an opportunity to contribute to the discussion of how to manage the balance by learning from the experience of AAK.

Earthspired: Building a Brand for Social Impact

Mrida (Sanskrit for soil), a recently founded social business venture, had launched the Earthspired brand a year ago to sell products made from high-value plants and herbs, which it sourced sustainably from small and marginal farmers in India, to  urban middle class consumers.  This was a key initiative for Mrida, and the founders had big ambitions. They wanted to grow the brand in India and internationally. To address this ambition, Mrida needed to address several interconnected questions: What should the consumer value proposition for Earthspired be and how should it be communicated? What was the most appropriate distribution channel – direct selling, retail, or on-line sales? What should be the business strategy to scale the Earthspired brand, given the limited resources available to a fledgling social business venture?

Arogya Parivar – Novartis’ BOP strategy for healthcare in rural India

There was a large segment of low-income population comprising about 1.2 billion people, with incomes between US$2-5 a day with no bank accounts, no access to modern financial services, no phones, dependent on informal or subsistence livelihoods and lacked access to amenities and basic healthcare. Addressing these unmet needs could create significant market opportunities for businesses while also contributing to social goals. This was particularly true in the healthcare market, where the BOP had long been underserved. Many Asian and African countries, where the BOP typically were, faced the double burden of infectious diseases and increasing rates of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases etc. Novartis decided that it was time to seriously consider the possibility of commercial opportunities amongst the world’s poor, notably India.


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