Grant enables global internship focused on sustainability

I worked with the Corporate Social Responsibility Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel, this summer, thanks to the Stacia L. Wood Social Impact Summer Grant.

The institute is a non-profit organization that promotes effective sustainability practices for corporations with a presence in Israel. I wanted to work for the institute because it is the singular entity promoting corporate social responsibility in the country. One way the institute promotes sustainability practices is by helping organizations implement Global Reporting Initiative standards.

At the start of my internship, I studied the unique challenges many organizations face when reporting on sustainability initiatives. An inherent difficulty is measuring the impact of sustainability initiatives as they affect many aspects of society. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals provide a blueprint for addressing 17 of the world’s most pressing problems, and companies have increasingly taken these goals as a framework to report on their sustainability initiatives.

My main project was to design and implement a go-to-market strategy for a new sustainability reports assurance product the institute was creating to help local companies measure their sustainability initiatives. I took a deeper look into the competitive landscape and saw the big four accounting firms and a few specialized boutique firms were the strongest players.

The big four firms had made considerable progress in entering markets that were consolidated, such as those in Western Europe. However, in less consolidated markets such as those in sub-Saharan Africa they had below average levels of market penetration. These markets were attractive because of their low level of market penetration and high-growth potential.

My job was to promote our tool in the markets that stood out by creating infographics, compiling a list of contacts to pursue and sending targeted emails. As I continued to populate the list of companies, I adjusted the marketing material to be suitable for the diverse regions. By the end of the internship, the institute was corresponding with multiple organizations, including Fortune 500 companies in sub-Saharan Africa with the plan to partner with them to improve their sustainability reporting.

The classes I had taken towards a Sustainable Enterprise concentration at UNC Kenan-Flagler were critical in helping me to get up to speed during my internship. In particular, the introduction to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the Impact Investing class provided a great foundation to tackle challenges I faced during my internship.

The great learning experiences during my internship would not have been possible without the Social Impact Grant from UNC Kenan-Flagler. I am so grateful for the opportunity!

By Dan Mwai (MBA ‘19)