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Bringing the Network Effect to Corporate Responsibility

The BCLC network of companies comes together to share best practices, identify common interests, initiate dialogue and drive action to address fundamental challenges around the world.

Each day we are all witnesses, participants and beneficiaries of the Network Effect. Those that can mobilize connectivity among individuals, groups, organizations and systems can produce more, deliver more, serve more and solve more. The proliferation and power of social media over the past decade has been a testament to the powers of networks and how the Network Effect demonstrates the power of our connections around the world.

At the U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation Business Civic Leadership Center, we believe that there is power in many, power in networks. This simple, but powerful, concept drives BCLC. Businesses around the world are helping solve fundamental social challenges by investing their time and capital, often through their corporate responsibility work. We at BCLC believe that if companies could harness the power of networks, the positive impact, scale and reach of corporate responsibility, programs would be staggering.

Innovation through Networks

A great example of this innovation through networks is the Partners in Food Solutions or the PfS program. This public-private-civil partnership between Cargill, Royal DSM, General Mills, Buhler and USAID works to strengthen food supply chains in Africa.

In 2008, these companies came together to form PfS. Their objective was to create an organization that would make long-term investments in Africa. The program requires more than financial support from these corporate partners, each company’s resources and staff expertise are utilized to create a greater impact.

If companies could harness the power of networks, the positive impact, scale and reach of corporate responsibility, programs would be staggering.

Since launching PfS, this partnership has impacted more than 110,000 local smallholder farmers who support an estimated 660,000 family members. Nearly 500 skilled employees from Cargill, Royal DSM and General Mills have volunteered more than 40,000 hours to the program. The program’s results show the value of companies working together in networks. What each company and nonprofit could have achieved separately is no match to the results they achieve when they work together.

BCLC creates opportunities for organizations (private, public, nonprofit, etc.) for these types of innovative partnerships around the issues they most care about. The BCLC network of companies comes together to share best practices, identify common interests, initiate dialogue and drive action to address fundamental challenges around the world.

If you’re interested in seeing the results of the Network Effect in corporate responsibility, or want to leverage the power of networks for your own corporate initiatives, join us Oct. 9-11, for The Network Effect: How Business Drives Progress in Washington D.C. Learn more at http://bclc.uschamber.com/network-effect.

Bailey Jacobs is the manager, external relations at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Business Civic Leadership Center. She can be reached at BJacobs@USChamber.com.

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