The final day of the summit has arrived – and so quickly! Today I was joined by Isabelle Jenkins, who is the UK PwC sponsoring Partner of the Beyond Sport partnership.
The morning’s session was focused around the theme of ‘Social Enterprise’ and began with a lively debate on sports perspective on social entrepreneurship. Academic leader in the field and CEO of Impact Economy, Max Martin was joined by Tracey Webster from Branson’s Centre of Entrepreneurs and Maria Bobenrieth from Women Win, a social enterprise which uses sport as a strategy to advance women’s rights across the world. The trio put forward a compelling case for social enterprise and saw the current economic downturn as an opportunity for individuals and organisations to change the central idea of capitalism as a profit making machine to one who’s primary aim is to generate positive social outcomes – the ‘social capital market’.
Following this, the conference split into four strands to participate in discussions which explored this theme of social enterprise and sport in greater depth. Isabelle took part in leading a session on ‘Alternative resources in the private sector’ where she was joined by the CSR Manager at Sony, the CEO of Kantar Research and the CEO of Coaches across Continents.
They each took a group of participants in the room and facilitated the debate in greater depth – I took part in an “NGO –vs- Corporate” debate where each side looked at what was important when looking for a Community Partner. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the conversation became rather heated – with NGO’s expressing their frustration at never knowing what Corporates are looking for, whilst CSR Managers attempted to explain the difficulties in sifting through the hundreds of emails they receive each day from NGO’s seeking support. We eventually came to the conclusion that the situation would become clearer for both sides if Corporates took the responsibility to do two things:
- publish their CSR strategy publicly (see PwC’s Corporate Sustainability Strategy here) allowing NGO’s to stop ‘shooting in the dark’ when seeking support; and
- for CSR Managers to consider going out into the NGO ‘marketplace’ to find a suitable community partner themselves.
In PwC speak, sustainability means building a better blueprint for business, of which an increasingly important part is contributing towards community investment projects - whatever your motivation for doing so, be it brand recognition, to increase staff engagement or even to lower direct costs, more businesses are turning on to the sustainability agenda.
After lunch, we were joined by three inspirational sportsmen and women who shared their story ‘beyond sport’. The most interesting for me was the emotive story of Natalie Du Toit, a Paralympic Swimmer, who told her story of losing her left leg on her way to school, aged just 17. Just less than two years later, she qualified for the 800m freestyle at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Read more of Natalie’s story here.
Following this, the conference was split into four for the final time to discuss how sport can be used to tackle some of the most pressing social issues (Social Inclusion, Environment, Crime and Education). At this point I went to meet Tom Blok, who heads up the PwC Western Cape Advisory practice, who is presenting the PwC sponsored Beyond Sport Award – ‘Sport for Education’.
The conference then reconvened for the second half of the awards (see the Beyond Sport website for a list of the winners).
Following this, we were joined by Tony Blair, ex UK Prime Minister and Ambassador to Beyond Sport, who was interviewed by a South African anchor-man who insisted on grilling him with some rather cheeky questions... see the highlights here.
As the formal proceedings drew to a close, we were whisked off to a celebration dinner with the award winners, sponsors and Tony himself and got to see some of Cape Town, which although troubled, is a beautiful city. All in all a busy and exciting week and quite a personal journey for me!
I’ve learnt a lot about what drives NGO’s – mostly the incredible individuals who put every ounce of energy into their organisations. I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand where some of them get this relentless energy and resilience from. Undoubtedly, a very humbling experience.
I’ve heard firsthand the difficulties the sector faces in trying to reach and deeply impact their beneficiaries, made more difficult by the sheer number of NGO’s with similar target groups but equally important causes and of course the current economic climate.
Having only been in the firm for just over 18 months as an Associate, and being the only full time resource managing the relationship with Beyond Sport, I have been able to take on some additional responsibilities which I would have otherwise not had the opportunity to do – I really feel that I’m starting to understand what it means to be a Consultant. Combine this with operating in the nuances of a ‘value partnership’ environment has made for a challenging but fantastic learning experience which has stretched me and one which will undoubtedly be valuable as I continue my career.