Need more proof that the conversation about purpose has reached a tipping point? You don’t have to look any further than this year’s EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year (TM) event in Monaco. At session after session throughout the event, I was struck by the passion of entrepreneurs and business leaders talking about making their company a force for good in the world.
Not least among them was Murad Al-Katib, the newly crowned EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017, who used his acceptance speech to deliver a message: purposeful business is no longer an aspiration; it’s a must.
“The imperative of us putting our work toward changing society — this is no longer optional,” Al-Katib, President and CEO, AGT Food and Ingredients Inc., told the crowd at the annual awards gala. “Corporate social purpose is a reality of what we as entrepreneurs must deliver to the world.”
Growing a business, purposefully
Al-Katib’s company began with a vision: he realized that the world would need to feed billions more people in the coming years. The answer, as he saw it, was pulse crops — such as lentils and chickpeas. These crops require little water while fixing vital nitrates in the soil, meaning the crops can be grown in marginal farmland. And they’re full of the protein that will be key to feeding a growing global population.
AGT has grown from a seed of an idea to a global success — it now has 47 factories on 5 continents and exports to 120 countries — but it has never strayed from its purpose. At Monaco, Al-Katib could justly hold it up as a model for others. As Dr. Vishal Sikka, CEO, Infosys, noted, “[Purposeful business] is not simply about growing the top and bottom line.” Now, it’s a matter of spreading the word — and getting to work.