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Make Change from Where You Are: Corporate "Intrapreneurs" a Force for Positive Change Within Business

Make Change from Where You Are: Corporate "Intrapreneurs" a Force for Positive Change Within Business

Published 04-24-00

Submitted by SustainAbility

April 24, 2008 - Published in partnership with The Skoll Foundation, Allianz and IDEO, the report presents a field guide to the world of social intrapreneurship – its challenges and opportunities - and draws on in-depth research undertaken by SustainAbility in 20 leading global corporations.

Building on SustainAbility's earlier research into social enterprise, the field guide spotlights this new, as yet undiscovered breed of social entrepreneur within big business – the social intrapreneur. This species often works against the corporate status quo to deliver new market solutions, aligning business value with some of the sustainability challenges facing society today.

Morgan Stanley, Ford, bp, Banco Real, Nike and Coca-Cola are among the companies profiled. A range of case studies includes:

  • Unilever's Shakti initiative to bring entrepreneurial skills to women in rural India;

  • Cemex's Patrimonio Hoy project to enable home ownership among Mexico's poor;

  • Microsoft's Unlimited Potential strategy to build digital inclusion in emerging markets; and

  • Nike's Native American Business, which leverages the Nike brand to increase physical activity among Native Americans.


The report assesses different corporate approaches to incubation and delivery of projects - from remote arm's-length development to full integration with the core business - and analyzes the insider-outsider mindset and hybrid skills that enable intrapreneurial success.

Nike's Vice President of Corporate Responsibility, Hannah Jones, said, "Intrapreneurship at Nike, as led by leaders like Sam McCracken, is helping us to develop new forms of value that take into account our ability to innovate for a better world. These projects help to create new lines of sight and unveil opportunities for innovation that benefit communities, drive sustainable design and ultimately contribute to social change."

Allianz CFO echoes this point, "Developing a culture of social intrapreneurship is key to our future competitiveness."

John Elkington, SustainAbility Co-Founder and Chief Entrepreneur, said, "It's early days, but social intrapreneurs are already making a difference. They are willing and able to take risks, including moving across and between organizations and sectors to reach the place where they can realize their vision. The intrapreneurs and their wide ranging projects - many of which are still niche - provide an important indication of how future business models and leadership styles are likely to evolve to meet the world’s sustainability challenges."

You are invited to attend:

Insights from Social Intrapreneurs: Monday, May 5, 2008, 5:00 pm cocktails then 6:00 pm dinner with John Elkington and Mark Lee from SustainAbility, as they share insights from their latest report, The Social Intrapreneur.

Cocktails and dinner will be held at IDEO; Pier 28 Annex; The Embarcadero; San Francisco.

Please RSVP to Ori Chandler at SustainAbility at by Wednesday, April 30, 2008.

John Elkington will also be available for press inquiries and interviews on May 8-9 in Washington, DC.

Have you got what it takes to be a corporate-changemaker?
The Social Intrapreneurs: A Field Guide for Corporate Changemakers


The Social Intrapreneur: A Field Guide for Corporate Changemakers is the second in a series of reports produced by SustainAbility in partnership with The Skoll Foundation. The first report, Growing Opportunity: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Insoluble Problems, provided a survey and analysis of trends in social entrepreneurship. The third and final report (due for publication later in 2008/09) will appraise opportunities for partnership between social entrepreneurs and corporate intrapreneurs.

About SustainAbility

Founded over 20 years ago in March 1987, SustainAbility is a strategy consultancy and independent think-tank specializing in the business risks and market opportunities of corporate responsibility and sustainable development.

About the Sponsors

The Skoll Foundation was created by eBay's first president, Jeff Skoll, to promote his vision for a more peaceful and prosperous world. Today the Skoll Foundation advances systemic change to benefit communities around the world by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs-individuals dedicated to pioneering new solutions that result in lasting improvements to complex social problems. The Skoll Foundation has awarded SustainAbility with a three year field building grant. The partnership with SustainAbility seeks to accelerate the development of the field of social entrepreneurship by building bridges between social enterprises, businesses and financial markets.

Allianz is one of the leading global services providers in insurance, banking and asset management. With approximately 181,000 employees worldwide, the Allianz Group serves more than 80 million customers in about 70 countries. Allianz is sponsoring for the second time SustainAbility's publication on the theme of social enterprise.

IDEO is a world leader in human-centred design and innovation of products, services and experiences. We help clients navigate the speed, complexity and opportunity areas of today's world. Our clients include Acumen Fund, American Red Cross, BBC, Intel, Kaufmann Foundation, Nokia, the National Health Service and Procter & Gamble.

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Independent think tank and strategy consultancy. Experts in corporate responsibility and sustainable development. Advisors on market risks and opportunities.

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