Business Examples from Around the World – South Africa, Sweden and Mexico

Students from Tecnologico de Monterrey using CEMEX's brick machines

As businesses become more and more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of interesting examples of active companies. However, when I speak with students/faculty, they say that they often hear about the same examples from the same international companies over and over again.

In an attempt to share some new best practice examples, I asked a handful of faculty members from around the world about some of their favourite examples of local companies actively involved in sustainability that they use in their classrooms. Here are some examples from Mexico, South Africa and Sweden:

Oliver Laasch, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Campus San Luis Potosí, Mexico

There is a recent CEMEX example that is quite amazing. CEMEX is a global leader in the building materials industry. They have a programme called “blockeras comunitarias,” where people who want to build a home can use CEMEX cement and a “block-making machine” to produce bricks. One out of every two bricks goes to the person producing it; the other is taken by CEMEX to be sold, which enables the project to remain economically sustainable. The program is so well accepted that people often need to wait up to two months to use the machine. It addresses one of Mexico’s most pressing problems, providing housing (vivienda) in a scalable and self-sustaining way.

Dr. Arnold Smith, Director of the Centre for Business in Society, University of Stellenbosch Business School, South Africa

In the wine and tourism environment, Spier is a real leader when it comes to making sustainability part of how they do business across their whole supply chain. In the financial services industry, Nedbank is looking at sustainability, not just in terms of their operations, but also in terms of their product offerings. Another interesting case that will raise a lot of questions in the future is the Walmart/Massmart merger. There is resistance for the merger coming from the unions, because they feel it could take job opportunities away and harm small producers in South Africa. In response, Walmart has put down $15 million (USD) to strengthen local procurement lines.

Olof Johansson, Business Manager, Executive MBA, GU School of Executive Education, Sweden

Nudie Jeans works a lot on responsible production. They use organic cotton, encourage quality rather than quantity (different consumption patterns) and are members of Fair Wear Foundation, Textile Exchange, Global Organic Textile Standard and Oeko-Tex Standard 100.The Dem Collective makes clothes with a focus on human rights and the use of ecological materials. Last but not least, SKF, a global industrial company making ball bearings, is highly ranked in global sustainability rankings. They have a number of interesting sustainability initiatives including SKF Care and BeyondZero.

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