Investing in innovation

Written by fe Bureaus | Updated: Jan 28 2008, 06:14am hrs
Indian chemical producer Jubilant Organosys has been able to attract investors with its high environmental, health and safety record as well as efficient sustainability reporting, according to a new report.

The report, Market Movers: Lessons from a Frontier of Innovation, has been brought out by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank group member, and SustainAbility, a consultancy.

The Indian chemical producer has been featured along with a Sri Lankan apparel manufacturer, an egg producer in China and a plastic pipe manufacturer in Brazil. These companies gained a competitive advantage by developing business strategies to become environmentally and socially responsible, says the report. While Sri Lankan MAS Holdings has increased the retention of its mostly female employees by offering them benefits, including training courses in information technology, Brazilian Amanco has developed a new water-tight technology to cater to low-income customers.

Giving an insight into how these companies have married sustainability with profitability, the report highlights the reasons behind their strategic directions and motivations, and the results. The case studies have been substantiated with data on their environmental, social and governance performance. The report shows that companies from emerging markets are engaging in sustainable innovations in pursuit of market differentiation.

Richard Caines, who led the work for IFC, said in the press release, Sustainability is home grown with these companies. Unlike many companies in the North, they did not develop their sustainable business models as a reaction to outside criticism, but rather because they could see the business case. The goal was to create new value, rather than protect existing value. IFC seeks to promote sustainable growth in developing countries by funding private sector investment.

Jodie Thorpe, who heads SustainAbilitys emerging economies practice, added in the official communication, While some of the companies that we interviewed talked explicitly about sustainability strategies, others described their approach as sound business sensea strategic response to trends they observed around them. SustainAbility specialises in business risks and market opportunities of corporate responsibility and sustainable development.