Creating Hybrid Value Chains with the Ashoka Foundation

The Ashoka Foundation is the largest association of leading social entrepreneurs in the world.  They work on three simple levels:

  • By supporting individual social entrepreneurs throughout their life cycle, they bring communities together.
  • These communities then help leverage their impact, scale their ideas and capture and disseminate their best practices.
  • Then they help to build the infrastructure and financial systems needed to support growth and facilitate the spread of social innovation globally.

Right now the foundation is pioneering an innovative business-social framework called Hybrid Value Chain (HVC) that aims to unleash huge wealth and to create new social benefits. They are currently compiling a HVC Global Community of leading HVC pioneers, first-movers, practitioners, and partners. They are looking for partnerships from the fields of business, finance, citizen sector organizations, universities, consultants and anyone else who are transforming industries to increase their profits and address large social needs.

According to Ashoka: “HVC are business models for commercial partnerships between businesses and citizen sector organizations that leverage the critical strengths of each actor to transform markets and meet these critical needs through market access.” Over the past 25 years, Ashoka has helped change the lives of millions all around the world through its Fellows, programs, and staff. This new program aims to galvanize on this and create a positive social change.

HVC’s business model relies on linking together the citizen sector and the corporate sector. It enables the delivery of needed goods and services to low-income populations in a more cost-effective way. In this manner companies have access to new markets and can enjoy a bigger client base. Citizen sector organizations (CSO) can increase their impact by generating new revenue sources for their programs and expanding their service range to beneficiaries.

HVC aims to go beyond CSR and philanthropy. Ashoka believes that there are several “inefficient paradigms” separating businesses and CSOs. By leveraging on a model of HVC, it bridges this gap by fostering partnerships between these two sectors.

This would be an interesting way to implement CSR for those companies that are interested in carrying their services over to the low-income market. Large scale solutions to poverty can be met by such partnerships especially in sectors like rural development, construction, technology etc. The Ashoka Foundation is currently inviting proposals for such partnerships.

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also