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Ahmad J. Naous

CSV Eats CSR for Breakfast

By Ahmad J. Naous

Shared value is a concept in business that emphasizes creating benefits for both the company and society. It’s about finding ways to be profitable while also addressing social and environmental issues.

  • Focus on both profit and social good: Shared value goes beyond just making money. It encourages companies to think about how their activities can improve the lives of people and the environment around them.
  • Win-win situation: By addressing social problems, companies can create new markets, improve their reputations, and attract a talented workforce. This ultimately leads to increased profitability.

Strategic approach: Shared value isn’t about random acts of charity. It’s about integrating social and economic approaches.

A few different ways companies can create shared value, such as:

  • Developing products and services that address social needs
  • Improving their environmental practices
  • Empowering local communities

Shared value is a way for businesses to be more sustainable and successful in the long term. It’s a concept that is gaining traction as companies look for ways to operate in a responsible way.

Grameen Bank is a well-known example of creating shared value through microfinance. Here’s how it works:

Social Issue: Poverty and lack of access to financial services in developing countries.

Shared Value Initiative: Grameen Bank provides microloans, typically small amounts of money, to low- income individuals, particularly women. These loans are used to start or grow small businesses, allowing borrowers to lift themselves out of poverty.

Benefits for Grameen Bank:

  • Financial Sustainability: Grameen Bank charges interest on the loans, generating revenue that allows them to operate and offer more loans.
  • Strong Repayment Rates: Their focus on empowering women and fostering a supportive lending community leads to high repayment rates on loans.

Benefits for Society:

  • Poverty Alleviation: By enabling individuals to start businesses and generate income, Grameen Bank helps families escape poverty and improve their standard of living.
  • Economic Growth: Increased economic activity from these new businesses contributes to the overall growth of the local economy.
  • Women’s Empowerment: By focusing on lending to women, Grameen Bank empowers them to become financially independent and contribute more significantly to their households and communities.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) refers to a business model that emphasizes a company’s social accountability towards itself, its stakeholders, and the public.

Social Responsibility: Companies practicing CSR go beyond just making profits. They consider the impact of their operations on society and the environment.\

  • Stakeholder Focus: CSR acknowledges a company’s responsibility not just to shareholders (owners), but also to employees, customers, communities, and the environment – all considered stakeholders.
  • Positive Impact: The goal of CSR is to operate in a way that benefits society and the environment, while minimizing negative impacts.

There are four main areas CSR initiatives typically focus on

  1. Environmental Impacts: This includes practices that reduce pollution, conserve resources, and promote sustainability.
  2. Ethical Responsibility: This involves fair labor practices, ethical sourcing, and conducting business with honesty and transparency.
  3. Philanthropic Endeavors: Companies might donate to charities, support social causes, or volunteer in their communities.
  4. Financial Responsibilities: This involves being fiscally responsible, paying taxes fairly, and contributing to the economic development of the communities the company operates in.

CSR is a way for businesses to be more responsible and sustainable in the long term. It’s about creating a win-win situation where the company thrives while also contributing positively to society and the environment.

The key differences between CSV (Creating Shared Value) and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) to understand which might be considered “better”:


  • CSR: Focuses on a company’s social responsibility and minimizing negative impacts. It can involve philanthropic efforts and ethical practices.
  • CSV: Focuses on creating value for both the company and society. It seeks business solutions that address social and environmental issues, creating a win-win.


  • CSR: CSR initiatives are often separate from the core business model. They might involve charitable donations or volunteer programs.
  • CSV: CSV initiatives are integrated into the core business strategy. The company looks for ways to solve social problems that are also profitable.


  • CSR: The primary outcome is a positive social or environmental impact. Financial benefits may be indirect.
  • CSV: The outcome is a win-win. The company achieves both social good and financial benefits.

Which is better?

It depends on the company’s goals and priorities. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Choose CSR if: Your main focus is on social responsibility and giving back, even if the financial return isn’t direct.
  • Choose CSV if: You want to find ways to address social issues while also creating new business opportunities and increasing profitability.

In essence, CSV can be seen as an evolution of CSR. It takes the good intentions of social responsibility and integrates them with core business practices for a more sustainable and impactful approach. However, CSR still plays a valuable role, especially for companies that are just starting to consider their social impact.

That’s a colorful way to put it! It accurately captures the idea that Creating Shared Value (CSV) can be seen as a more comprehensive approach than Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).