As a global firm working with business, governments, and the social sector on critical challenges and transformational strategies, we at BCG spend much of our time focused on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We do this by working collaboratively to help a wide range of organizations develop their energies, capabilities, and potential so that they can do more to advance global sustainable development. a
And what we’ve learned is, when trying to solve complex social and environmental challenges, no organization or sector can succeed alone. Partnership is at the heart of how we push for positive change, whether that’s working with private sector clients to create jobs and economic opportunity or helping the social sector to increase access to education or healthcare.
“BCG is having impact and helping to drive action across most of the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Wendy Woods, BCG senior partner and global leader of the firm’s Social Impact practice. “But when I think about the one that’s closest to my heart, it’s SDG17: partnerships.”
Partnerships with Potential
As African economies develop, public-private partnerships are essential. In Rwanda, for example, BCG works closely with the government. To help the country’s economy to thrive, the Rwanda Development Board & BCG have co-developed and are implementing an Investment Accelerator, designed to advance job creation by harnessing the power of private sector investment as the engine of the economy. BCG works on similar efforts to foster private investments in other African countries as well.
Another critical BCG partnership is with Teach for All, a global network of independent nonprofit organizations that recruit outstanding graduates and young professionals to teach for two years in their nations’ under-resourced schools and communities and, with this foundation, to work with others, inside and outside of education, to ensure all children are able to fulfill their potential. BCG is helping Teach for All to develop and structure a global network, enabling it do more to advance SDG4 (promoting inclusive, equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all).
In putting resources to work towards the SDGs, BCG also works closely with the private sector. We have partnered with Visa to help the company strengthen its social impact strategy, which will focus on empowering small and micromerchants around the world with a focus on women-owned firms.
Total Societal Impact
What’s most exciting for us in all this work is to see that efforts to meet the SDGs can also be good for business. BCG research has found that companies that are using their core business models to create positive social impact—something we call total societal impact (TSI)—are outperforming others.
Take a goal such as SDG10 (reduced inequalities). In urban areas, an important part of this is enabling micromerchants. This helps to create jobs in local communities, provides people with livable wages, and has a positive impact on economic development. A company like Visa can use its core business and their global capabilities to empower micromerchants and promote economic equality.
“At BCG, we see ourselves as enablers. Whether working with private sector clients or with government and civil society organizations, we have the tools and insights that can help others make a bigger impact,” says BCG’s CEO Rich Lesser. “Our purpose—unlocking the potential of those who advance the world—is really centered on making a difference for our clients, for our people, and for the societies in which we live and work.”