Veja: Sneakers With a Conscience
(13 pages of text)
AWARD WINNING CASE - Latin American Business Cases Award, 2012 European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) Case Writing Competition. This case illustrates the founding and growth of Veja, the first eco-sneaker company in the world, in the broader context of the evolution of the fashion industry and the emergence of the eco-fashion movement. By September 2010, the five-year old venture had become a reference in ethical fashion, and an inspiration for other eco-fashion start-ups. Its path, its successes and its aspirations made it a perfect acquisition target; like-minded companies like Timberland were already feeling out the two founders.
Sebastien Kopp and Francois-Ghislain Morillion were still fulfilling their dream. They had fun trying to craft ever more sustainable business approaches. They were still excited about the opportunity to develop solutions or workarounds for socially- and environmentally-problematic business practices. The case presents several solutions, focusing on the development of sustainable business practices in organic cotton, wild natural rubber and traditional veggie-tanned leather. The case also deals with the issue of how ventures integrate sustainable practices into a holistic and ever improving offering, which engages multiple supply chain participants (employees, consumers, suppliers, partners, even artists) in co-devising a value proposition that appeals not just to our sense of fashion, but also to our conscience. Essentially, the case is a story of fashioning identities by artfully bending consumers' appreciation towards the expression of unity with the earth and across cultures.
The objectives of this case are to:
- Discuss the intersection of markets and social movements, focusing on how individual business may shape and benefit from these social movements. What Veja chooses to do may well influence others’ decisions, such as whether to enter, to “grow it alone” or to sell to big firms.
- Understand the venturing process from a sustainability perspective, unpacking each process, each supply chain link and each relationship to understand how the sustainability mindset distinguishes the Veja sneakers — every step of the way.
- Probe the synergies and trade-offs between economic and social value creation to reach an understanding of the multi-layered embeddedness of sustainability-oriented ventures within different consumers groups and stakeholder groups.
- Challenge students to apply their knowledge of strategy and entrepreneurship to emerging market contexts by testing, extending and applying traditional models of competitive advantage under the triple constraints/opportunities of economic, environmental and social benefit.
- Provide actionable templates for formulating and implementing a socially and environmentally responsible strategy that sets the market (and keeps pace with trendsetters).
- Reflect on the strategic importance of sustainability strategies and on the capabilities needed to deliver social and economic value to multiple stakeholders, which are often driven by conflicting motivations.
- Build awareness about the ethical fashion movement and, more broadly, the influence of social movements in shaping both the markets and our expectations of business.
Social Advocacy Organizations
Brazil, Small, 2010
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