M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 187

Driving Accelerated Private Sector Impact on Public Health

Svenja Meike Kirsch


Executive Summary

Major contemporary public health challenges include the fight against Malaria, the promotion of hygiene to eradicate several related major diseases and the reduction of harmful use of alcohol. Recognizing that these health challenges are too complex to be overcome by one group of actors alone, namely governments, this report aims to make the case for an all-of-society approach that involves private business’ involvement in advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in the realm of health. It does so by referring to the B Corp Brands on a Mission (BOAM) and its ambition to accelerate private investment in public health through a non-profit foundation in addition to its core business.

By answering the question of what the most feasible and sustained way is for BOAM to achieve impact on increasing private sector investment to drive progress on Malaria, hygiene and the reduction of harmful use of alcohol, this report presents insights into academic research on impact accelerating models and supports these with findings from interviews with leaders in the private sector impact space. The report identifies three in academic research grounded approaches to achieving impact through private sector businesses: impact through the core business and linked CSR efforts, business-led foundations and other philanthropic models, and membership or leadership within multi-stakeholder initiatives. Consistent with the literature, case studies that are due to their impact-related ambition, industry-focus, and institutional set-up similar to BOAM provide evidence for real-world implementation, alongside associated challenges and benefits.

The interviews reveal considerable differences in terms of strategic outlook on resourcing and embedding of non-profit units within the business when compared to BOAM’s vision for a foundation. Combined with findings from the literature, the report therefore recommends: 

1)    Instead of focusing on setting up a foundation at this stage, BOAM should focus its efforts on growing its core business alongside engaging in either the day-to-day activities of an existing multi-stakeholder initiative or setting up a novel initiative of this kind. 

2)    Associated with this recommendation is the endorsement of exploring opportunities for BOAM to set up a new, solely on public health promotion focused B Corp Collective as a novel multi-stakeholder platform.

3)    Endorsement is given for BOAM to consider active engagement in the process of reviving the in response to COVID-19 set up National Business Compact for Coronavirus in Kenya.

4)    Given commitment to creating more public health impact beyond the core business, a re-evaluation of potential for a localized, community-level BOAM foundation should be conducted after several years of business growth have passed.

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