Ashoka Announces Fellow Partnership With P&G: An Example of the Future of Social Enterprise in Corporate Partnership

There's been a lot of talk around the evolution of "cause marketing" and communication for good. But the walk is generally what turns head and actions by corporate players in the social enterprise space are turning heads faster than glossy adds. What's all the fuss about? Scale.

That's what I read into an announcement yesterday by Ashoka (a worldwide working community of more than 2,500 leading social entrepreneurs) around entrepreneur Healthpoint Services Global, Inc. and P&G.

Healthpoint Services Global, Inc. is a social enterprise incubated by Ashoka starting in 2009 which has created and piloted a model for delivery of water, healthcare, and other benefits to underserved rural communities in low-income regions of developing countries. The partnership is an effort aimed at perfecting a scalable, self-sustaining model.

Each modern facility, owned and operated by Healthpoint Services, provides an oasis of high-quality, affordable services for rural communities that generally lack access to safe drinking water and have limited access to legitimate healthcare services and medicines. In addition, the company deploys village health workers who are equipped with advanced mobile phones that go door-to-door to provide consumer education, patient follow-up, and rural service delivery to extend the reach of the Healthpoint village team.

In this innovative learning partnership, P&G Futureworks will work with Healthpoint Services, providing financial support, experienced people, and in-kind services. The objective of the collaboration is to improve and strengthen the model to enable its growth and expansion into additional rural communities in India and other developing countries. This collaborative business model demonstrates that corporations and citizen-sector organizations working together can effectively reach the social and financial goals of both organizations -- an idea championed by Ashoka.

Perhaps the most interesting resource in this equation however is one thing that all the philanthropic/investment capital could never offer: scale. I've written before about this invaluable resource that corporate partners have and something I've created an entire agency around leveraging. P&G is one of the first among some highly progressive companies that are forming collaborations to leverage scale for social enterprise and it's a trend that is only going to continue. As the social enterprise space evolves and develops these kinds of real product innovations are going to the be the future of "social" initiatives. Namely, they will be those that leverage real business acumen, proposition and innovation to create returns for all stakeholders, including the mass market that these types of companies touch daily.

Watch out capitalism, it may seem like a small undertaking, but it's a sign of times to come and the opening of a floodgate of sustainable innovation that's going to change the world.