Korea’s largest food maker, CJ Group, made history last week when it became the first Korean winner of the CSV Porter Prize. Prof. Michael Porter himself presented the award to CJ Group vice chairman Lee Chae-wook, whose company has integrated shared value into its core business model with dedicated staff and several successful projects. Upon receiving the reward, Lee commented: “We will continue to communicate with vulnerable groups in our community and to keep on creating shared value to pursue sustainable growth.”
CJ Group and has made a clear commitment to shared value in a number of ways—one being their new partnership with our Initiative and our first funder headquartered in Asia. In another “first,” in 2013 CJ became the first major Korean company to establish a Creating Shared Value (CSV) management department. I recently had the opportunity to speak with the Executive Vice President of that department, Jo Min, who detailed the processes that have been incorporated throughout the company to really implement shared value. "Our goal is to ingrain the CSV philosophy in our business DNA in a systematic way,” she said.
At 02:44 in the interview below, Ms. Min maps out CJ’s organizational alignment with the CSV department and the company’s structural orientation around shared value. It’s a truly practical, advanced application of the approach:
Ms. Min will speak at the Shared Value Leadership Summit on May 13, 2015. Watch the event livestream and more video here.
Ms. Min went on to explain that the CSV department is managing a number of ongoing shared value projects, including a promising initiative promoting sustainable agricultural development in rural Vietnam. The story begins when CJ identified the Ninh Thuan province in Vietnam as having the ideal climate for sourcing chile peppers, an important ingredient in Korean food. However, many rural farmers in this region still live in poverty, lacking the basic infrastructure and technology to compete with big corporate farms.
Through a partnership with Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), CJ set out to better integrate these rural famers into their supply chain—not only to pull them out of poverty, but also to secure more of their high-quality product. Now the company is on a journey to improve agricultural productivity in the province, for example sharing advanced farming techniques and practices, such as sustainable seed selection; and establishing effective infrastructure, such as redesigning and recuperating the much needed agricultural water system.
Although the project is still in early stages, the company is banking on improving crop quality and yield, ensuring a steady market for the produce. (Read the case study for detailed results.) If the initiative is successful, CJ hopes to expand the model to other impoverished regions and product lines. This kind of scale should be the ultimate goal of any shared value project like this one, and CJ Group is an ideal example of a business on the journey to making it a reality.
Jo min is pictured below (at right) speaking with Beth Keck of Walmart at a recent Shared Value Initiative strategy convening.