Why smart multinationals are creating awards for social innovators

Value Chains

Why smart multinationals are creating awards for social innovators

Jacinto, a student at the school that won the 2012 Nestle Prize in Creating Shared Value, works with chickens. Photo: Nestle (Flickr).

What would the Academy be without the Oscars? What would NCAA basketball be without March Madness?

NGOs of every size and mission discovered long ago that contests and awards are a terrific way to build their brands. So it makes sense that as more for-profit corporations embrace social missions, they've started learning the same tricks.

Exhibit A: the Nestle Prize in Creating Shared Value. The Swiss food processing giant, which is pursuing major initiatives to make its supply chains more sustainable, is accepting applications until March 31 for the third installment of its annual award for "innovative, commercially viable and high impact intiatives" in nutrition, water and rural development.

The winner gets 500,000 Swiss Francs (about $530,000) to invest in their project. Nestle's inaugural 2010 laureate was a network of Cambodian farm advisors; the 2012 winner was a self-sustaining agriculture school for Paraguayan teenagers.

For Nestle, it's a triple win: The company helps spread ideas that will be useful to the company's long-term viability, supports a project worth investment and gives media organizations around the world a reason to write about Nestle's latest laureate.

We certainly will be.

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