sábado, 27 de enero de 2007

Chapter one. Welcome the most paradigmatic changes in the history of humanity

Rodrigo Baggio is a Brazilian social entrepreneur who has brought informatics schools to the favelas (slums or poor neighborhoods in Brazil) and has already introduced 500,000 people to the digital world through Internet.

American Apparel, a United States company, has achieved a 900% increase in sales in only four years by manufacturing cotton garments without logos, using organic products and paying the highest salaries in the garment industry, which is one of the most competitive.

Iqbal Quadir implemented the Grameen Phone program in Bangladesh, which granted access to cell phones to 8,5 million peasants earning less than a dollar a day. These, in turn, sold the public phone service to their neighbors, and have thus multiplied communication in rural areas over a 100%.

Natura, a Brazilian cosmetics company, has experienced a 32% growth in two years (as opposed to its competitors’ 20%) by centering its strategy in environmental care. Its brand value amounts to 113% of its annual sales, a figure to which giant L’Oréal’s mere 33% barely compares.

The above are just four stories – of individuals whose ideas changed the lives of many others, and of companies that found their competitive advantage in respect for the environment, employees, and consumers, and were rewarded by rocketing proceeds. But there are hundreds of other stories.

Two years ago, we started working with advertising agencies, media, companies, foundations, NGOs, and social entrepreneurs, in an attempt to better understand the tendencies that are transforming the world we live in and the changes they are making in corporate behavior, in governments, and in our lives.

We traveled to Mexico, Brazil, Chile, the USA and Europe to interview the CEOs of a number of companies, several of which are in the communications business, and we set up an Advisory Board consisting of scholars and businesspeople.

We thus detected three currents that converge in the same historical moment and have the potential for generating one of the most paradigmatic changes in the history of humanity:

- The revolution of the social sector: the rise of millions of people, organized in foundations, NGOs, and other associations, that are working and searching for answers for the urgent problems of our societies.

- An arising sustainable development conscience: a new consciousness vis-à-vis the planet, companies and governments, and our way of consuming, producing and living, which is optimistic about the possibilities the former involve, but has and will have a significant impact on corporate action and communications as we know them.

- The participatory media: where audiences no longer wait passively to receive information, but interacts, creates networks and communicates. Internet is today their platform par excellence.

We perceive a type of person that is beginning to see these tendencies, people who aspire to be global citizens and realize that these currents can take them towards the goal they are striving for. People who act responsibly, without ceasing to be “ordinary citizens” – who cooperate in social issues without being activists.

People who actually expect companies to stop “selling” to them and start dialoging – who want companies to be where they are, and to speak their own language, that of the participatory media. People searching for relevant contents to construct a personal history, to be informed, to learn and participate.

We know what these people want. We have the tools and speak the same language. We can communicate. We are no longer “Out There”.
We are here.

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