University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, 2014
Business as Unusual in Latin America
Latin America is today an incubator for business models that primarily aim to generate positive social and / or environmental impact. Highly innovative and creative businesses have emerged in the region serving customers or providing employment opportunities at the base of the pyramid.
This half day conference took place at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland to examine current trends, show examples and provide ample opportunity for interaction and discussion on how Latin America is doing business as unusual. The conference was jointly organized by the Centro Latinoamericano-Suizo at the University of St. Gallen and the Humanistic Management Center. It was also the closing event of the annual retreat of our partner organization, the Humanistic Management Network.
Following the welcome address by Prof. Yvette Sánchez, Director of the Centro Latinoamericano-Suizo at the University of St. Gallen and Ernst von Kimakowitz of the Humanistic Management Center, the opening keynote was presented. This first keynote was followed by a panel discussion and an interactive case - lab providing a real world example for impact generating businesses from Latin America. The conference afternoon closed with a second keynote before a networking cocktail was served. Below you can find a brief description of each of the sessions as well as a picture gallery of the event at the bottom of the page.
To download the program and speaker bios please follow the link: Program and speaker Bios: Business as Unusual in Latin America
To view the conference summary on the website of the Centro Latinoamericano-Suizo please follow the link: CLS Events: Business as Unusual in Latin America
- Opening keynote: The opening keynote was presented by Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, Research Professor for the Spiritual Capital Initiative at Yale University on the role of the entrepreneur and virtuous business. Based on Peter Drucker's notion that "Free enterprise cannot be justified by being good for business; it can only be justified by being good for society.” Professor Malloch provided a very enlightening panorama of the role of the entrepreneur and free enterprise in society. Based on twelve virtues he developed a perspective on leadership as servant leadership and shared empirical findings that such virtuous businesses not only do good, but outperform their competitors also financially.
- Panel discussion: On the subsequent panel we welcomed Professor Consuelo García de la Torre of EGADE Business School, Tecnológico de Monterrey, in Mexico, Rocío Robinson and Dominik Mösching, both PhD students at the University of St.Gallen. The Panel was moderated by Dr. Dorothea Baur, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Business Ethics at the University of St. Gallen. Professor García de la Torre introduced Cielo y Tierra, a hotel and restaurant business in San Cristóbal in the Chiapas region of Mexico that provides a unique guest experience through involving the local community in every step of the supply and value chain of the business operation. In contrast to the small business introduced first, Rocío Robinson presented a micro-distribution initiative by a large corporation, Nestlé, in Brazil. Through this initiative Nestlé generates employment and also training opportunities in low income communities and the favelas of Brazil. Dominik Mösching then added to these rather distinct approaches to impact generating business conduct the dimension of how knowledge development and narratives can drive and enhance ecosocial resilience and lead to developing innovative business models and practices.
- Case - lab: During the case - lab all participants analyzed the case of a business in Colombia that provides employment opportunities to small scale farmers as well as contributing to rain forest preservation in the Amazon region by growing endemic fruit and producing confectionary products, sauces and marmalades from them. Divided into three groups and tasked with taking up different stakeholder roles the conference participants developed a set of recommendations to grow the business sustainably. The case - lab was directed by Prof. Radha R. Sharma of the HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management and Alicia Hennig of the TU Darmstadt.
- Closing keynote: The closing keynote was given by Fabio Segura from LGT Venture Philanthropy. In it Fabio Segura provided a highly informative talk with many examples from his own experience in impact investing. As a leading impact investor LGT Venture Philanthropy is focused on improving the quality of life of less advantaged people by supporting organizations with positive social or environmental impact through financing, know-how and access to networks.
07th of July 2014, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland