We are nominated for the Canadian SDG Accelerators Awards!

Article published on
January 12, 2021

For this application purpose we have decided to highlight our actions aimed at reaching objective #17: Partnerships for the achievement of objectives.

The choice of the winner will be made on the basis of a jury and a public vote, open until January 22, 2021. If you want to support our application, you can do so by voting on our Global Compact profile, here: https://globalcompact.ca/sdg-accelerators-awards/umalia/

Here is an excerpt of our application, available in its entirety on our Global Compact profile.

Explanation of the choice of objective #17 to submit the application

"With a strong desire to contribute to our society and have a positive impact on the world, Umalia was created with the conviction that the societal engagement of organizations must go hand in hand with profit. With the growing complexity of the world around us and the societal challenges we face – such as climate change – it is impossible for the solution to come from a single player. The central place and economic weight of companies in our society make them a formidable tool for redrawing the lines of a fairer, more sustainable and more resilient society. This is why one of our core spheres of action revolves around the design and set up of business ecosystems and multisector partnerships that bring together society’s players around common issues and a shared vision.

In order to multiply our impact, embody our vision and be aligned with our own values, Umalia has taken the form of a hybrid organization since its beginning:

– Firstly, we are a consulting firm in strategy and societal engagement for various types of organizations. At Umalia first and foremost we assist leaders seeking to have a greater societal impact by tying their values and ideals to concrete business practices. We help them to develop their strategic planning, envision and strategize their societal engagement, engaging their stakeholders along the way through different mechanisms and business practices. We also accompany them to tie their values and vision to major transformations their organization goes through.

– Secondly, we regularly engage with nonprofit organizations and communities to put our skills and expertise to work for other players in society. Since its creation Umalia has been committed to operating according to the same principles as those taught to its clients, which earned Umalia its B Corp certification in 2020 with a score of 128 points.

Regardless of who we work for and what kind of accompaniment we provide, our methodology is based on strong principles: meaning, anchoring and impact. Through meaning we seek relevance and coherence in relation to the context and the organization. We believe in the richness of consultation and integrate the different stakeholders from the very beginning of any project design. Anchoring allows us to consolidate and concretize a vision by integrating it at the very core of the organization, in its strategies, business practices, investments, etc. It is also a medium for us to systematically question partnership potential with the organization we are working with. Once the internal alignment is reached regarding the organization’s vision, purpose and business strategy, it’s the perfect window for us to address the leverage and benefits the organization may have in a partnership ecosystem. Finally, the last part of our methodology is always focused on the same objective of any reflection on societal engagement: having and measuring a positive impact on the organization, its ecosystem and society.

Over the years, we have developed a specific and sharp expertise in the implementation, governance and activation of multisector partnerships. We have built several multi-stakeholder partnerships, especially in Africa, aimed at contributing to solve targeted issues addressed by several of the Sustainable Development Goals. We chose to address primarily SDG #17 because :

– It is our primary field of expertise

– We are fervent advocates of the exponential potential of multi-stakeholder partnerships

– We trust our ability to promote, mobilize and bring awareness to our clients and whole ecosystem about the still unknown power of partnerships

– It represents the core of what we have accomplished with different organizations of different sectors

In selecting this SDG, we were quite conscious of the potential opportunities it could create as well as the risks inherent to it. In our discussions with our Advisory Board, several recognized the clear alignment with our business model but also feared that given the state of awareness/ readiness of organizations, back in 2012, around multisector partnerships, that it would take a lot of perseverance and dedication to achieve our vision and that we’d have to ‘take our pilgrim’s stick’ to make this happen at the level we envisioned. Not to mention that we’d have to dedicate a lot of our own resources, if we also wanted to make that part of our own corporate societal engagement. The other associated risks were related to the inherent risks of implementing multisector partnerships, ie governance and alignment risks with partners, potential to impact reputation, etc.

Even though we took them into account, the benefits and the potential far outweighed these risks. Aside from enabling us to live our mission fully and concretely, focusing on these partnerships also provided an opportunity for us to demonstrate, in real time, the full extent of our capabilities as an organization and the full continuum of our services as every aspect is typically engaged throughout these projects (purpose, common mission, meaning, strategy development, ecosystem building, impact measurement, ….). Furthermore, in selecting SDG #17, we were also conscious of the tremendous innovation potential that we would benefit from working and leading partnerships with such diverse partners, in several areas of the globe. We would continue to learn and grow as an organization and be able to pass that on to all our clients, partners and stakeholders in order to strengthen our full ecosystem."