By: Meghan Ennes | Manager, Digital Communications at Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship | April 19th, 2016

An interview with Barbara Bush by the Shared Value Initiative

Ebola. Malaria. HIV/AIDS. These and other global health crises we face today are far too large and complex for just one organization to tackle. This fact is mission-critical for the Global Health Corps, which mobilizes the next generation of global health leaders to build the movement for health equity. Co-Founder and CEO Barbara Bush believes in the power of partnerships: "Collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders allows for sharing of best practices, resources, and lessons learned," she says, "At the end of the day, we strongly believe that’s how we’ll move the needle on global health."

The Shared Value Initiative recently sat down with Bush to discuss how her organization engages with the private sector for maximum impact. Bush will also take the stage to discuss shared value partnerships in health with the GE Foundation's David Barash on May 11, 2016 at the Shared Value Leadership Summit in New York. 

[UPDATE] At the 2016 Shared Value Summit, Bush discusses how partnering with GE and encouraging Global Health Corps alumni to join the private sector is truly scaling global health solutions.

Shared Value Initiative: To what extent do you see companies making commitments to addressing societal needs?

Barbara Bush: We live in a world that’s more globally connected than ever. It’s amazing. From Kigali, Rwanda, 8,000 miles away from New York City, I can FaceTime my baby niece. She will grow up in a world where the Internet collapses time zones and Africa is a global force. In our hyper-connected world, global health and development challenges are no longer contained. What happens in Flint affects us here in New York City, what happens in Kigali affects us too – and vice versa. Everyone has a role to play in addressing social and health inequities and particularly private sector companies – companies like Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson exemplifies the impact that private sector companies can make on societal needs-- their efforts focus on maternal and child health, specifically the elimination mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), an area that many of our fellows address in their work. Specifically, Johnson & Johnson supports our fellows who work at mother2mothers in Malawi, leveraging the company’s expertise and knowledge to serve the communities our fellows work in.  

Another great example is DSM, which uses their expertise and experience for social change of nutrition in the United States. As part their work to raise awareness for nutrition and hunger issues in the U.S., they support Global Health Corps fellows who work on these issues such as the fellows serving at 1,000 Days in Washington DC.


In what ways have you seen cross-sector partnerships change to better create shared value? 

At Global Health Corps, our model is built on the intersection of many disciplines and fields, so cross-sector partnerships are everything to us. Our fellows come from a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, and while 97% of our alumni stay in global health or social justice work, each one of them has a strong understanding and appreciation of the value of cross-sector collaboration.

For instance, one of our alumni, Ameet Salvi, studied engineering at UC Berkeley and went on to work for the GAP in supply-chain management. After three years in retail, he began looking for a way to use his skills to make a difference in the lives of others. He heard about Global Health Corps, applied, and was accepted as one of our 22 inaugural fellows. Ameet moved to Tanzania to work with Clinton Health Access Initiative. His task was to do for the 1 million people living on the island of Zanzibar exactly what he did for GAP.  But instead of working to get jeans into stores, Ameet used his skills to get life-saving medicines to health clinics—and into the hands of the patients who needed them most. Today, Ameet works as the Supply Chain Manager for Partners In Health in Sierra Leone, where he moved when the Ebola crisis hit West Africa. His experience from the private sector is critical and lifesaving in the field of global health.

The health challenges we face today are extremely complex, and therefore need truly complex, multi-disciplinary solutions. Collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders allows for sharing of best practices, resources, and lessons learned. At the end of the day, we strongly believe that’s how we’ll move the needle on global health.


How is your organization changing how it engages with the private sector?

We are fortunate to have a range of incredible partners from the private sector. Just as importantly, we’ve had a huge number of fellows and alumni come from the private sector-- close to 20% of our fellows. It’s clear that there is a huge amount of crossover, both ways, and that’s hugely important in contributing to creative, meaningful approaches to addressing global health challenges.

We partner with Sanford International Clinics (SIC), a Sanford Health initiative to develop a series of pediatric clinics in the U.S. and around the world in places that lack sufficient primary care services. Our collaboration leverages Global Health Corps’ diverse and global network of alumni and fellows as both a talent pipeline and knowledge resource. In addition to tapping into our pool of global leaders, we collaborate with SIC on in-country expansion of clinics and sharing best practices.

Similarly, we’ve worked closely with Bristol-Myers Squibb, a global biopharmaceutical company, on designing and implementing tools and practices for measuring our impact. In addition to sharing best practices around monitoring and evaluation, they also support fellows at Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation in Uganda.


What positive societal impacts are companies having/contributing to?

I think we’re seeing that past rigid concepts of private sector versus public sector don’t hold up today and that effecting meaningful social change happens in both. In fact, we really need the private sector to be all-in. There is a lot more discussion about taking “private sector approaches” in the non-profit world with regards to being lean, efficient, and results oriented,  and this notion of “doing well while doing good” has gained a lot of traction. Private sector companies have a tremendous amount of resources and a breadth of audience that gives them huge potential for impacting positive change in the world. The GE Foundation embodies this with their impactful work in areas such as health, education, and public policy. I’m excited that Global Health Corps is part of this incredible work this year, as two of our fellows are serving at the GE foundation in New York.


Looking ahead, what do you believe is still needed to accelerate shared value globally?

We need to continue to invest in building and mobilizing the next generation of leaders: a new breed of leaders who think creatively, function expertly across sectors, and value business acumen and a commitment to excellence alongside storytelling and traits such as compassion and vulnerability. At Global Health Corps, we believe that most powerful lever of change in global health is great leadership and we’re all in on our investment in that. We are excited to see growing momentum and cannot wait to see how bright the future will look like in five, ten, or twenty years with these young leaders in the world. 


Watch live on May 11 to see Barbara Bush join the GE Foundation's David Barash in a discussion of partnerships for global talent. 

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