The Awethu Project: Values-Driven Decisions for Profit and Social Impact
(9 pages of text)
The Awethu Project (Awethu) was a South African-based social enterprise that operated as a venture capital and investment firm for small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises. The company was widely acknowledged for its social mission of creating jobs and benefiting society while maximizing profit. In March 2016, Awethu’s leaders signed an agreement with a prominent South African corporation, which could allow Awethu to operate within a higher segment, bringing the company closer to fulfilling its strategy. But Awethu continued to wrestle with a number of challenges, such as its socioeconomic environment and strategic focus decisions, and the question of how to continually attract capital and deliver on the company’s vision. Finding themselves at an important moment in their company’s history, Awethu’s leaders considered how the new partnership could help Awethu address these looming challenges, while creating sustainable profit and value.
This case integrates principles from multiple business disciplines and is, therefore, best suited for students in postgraduate and executive courses. It may be used in programs dealing with strategic decision-making and leadership, as well as organizational behaviour and organizational design. The case will show students how their own values drive their decisions, and how individual values, organizational mission and strategy, and different paradigms about the purpose of companies can influence strategic decisions. The key learning objective of the case is to demonstrate how leadership values influence strategic focus within the context of profitability and social impact. The case focuses on
- values-driven decision making,
- aligning decisions and values to the company’s mission, and
- shared value solutions in the context of social change.
South Africa, Small, 2016
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