By: Ellen Martin | Associate Director, Partnerships at Shared Value Initiative | November 18th, 2015

Global companies talk about world-changing innovations in malaria prevention, food access, and diabetes diagnosis. (Photos: GSK, Novo Nordisk, Unsplash)

Earlier this fall, Fortune published a brand-new list featuring 50 global companies who are changing the world – and more importantly, 50 innovations within those companies that are improving society with core business strategy.

We gave three of those companies a simple prompt: Tell us about one business innovation focused on solving a social problem that you are excited about. And from GSK, Novo Nordisk, and Walmart, we got three different answers featuring the provoking work each is implementing on malaria prevention, food access, and diabetes diagnosis and care.

Jon Pender, vice-president for government affairs, GSK

Huge strides have been made against malaria, but the disease still claims more than 500,000 lives each year and places immense pressure on already fragile health systems, societies, and economies. Investing in defeating malaria can provide a springboard for families and communities to thrive and prosper. As a science-led healthcare company, GSK is well-placed to help respond to this challenge. With our partners, we have spent more than 30 years developing the world’s first vaccine against malaria – to complement other tools such as bed nets.

Cracking the scientific and economic challenges of developing a malaria vaccine demanded different ways of working – GSK building relationships and collaborating with NGO partners and scientists across Africa.  Together, we are closer than ever to bringing a vaccine to those who need it most – young children in Africa. The European Medicines Agency gave the vaccine candidate a positive scientific opinion in July 2015 and we are now awaiting a formal review from the WHO. If approved for use, GSK has committed to offering the vaccine at a not-for-profit price, with a small return of 5% reinvested in developing next-generation malaria vaccines as well as vaccines against other neglected diseases.

Jakob Riis, Executive Vice President for China, Pacific & Marketing, Novo Nordisk

I am excited about the program "Cities Changing Diabetes" which we initiated in collaboration with University College London, Steno Diabetes Center and the city leaders of Mexico City, Houston, Tianjin, Shanghai and Copenhagen. Two-thirds of all people with diabetes live in cities and we need to be where they are and understand their needs.

At our first Cities Changing Diabetes Summit, we are bringing together experts from around the world to discuss insights from the program's mapping phase which is the largest ever study in urban diabetes. From here, in collaboration with city leaders, partners and people with diabetes, we will take concrete steps to address urban diabetes. These steps may improve living conditions, such as access to clean water and healthy food choices and may lead to better quality of life, reduced costs and ultimately improved conditions for our business.

Mr. Riis will speak at the 2016 Shared Value Leadership Summit. Save the date and learn more.


Kathleen McLaughlin, President, Walmart Foundation

We [the Walmart Foundation] give $1.4-1.5 billion every year globally. A large part of that are in-kind donations of food that we take out of Walmart and put into the charitable meals system. Why is that good for the business? Well, you can imagine in any retail operation you have a very large problem around waste. And Walmart has a public commitment to get to 0% waste out of our operations by 2025.

We're pretty close: We're at 87% lower waste than we had 10 years ago. We still have that last 13% left to go, and food waste is a large part of that waste burden. And we have to pay to cart that off to landfill. That's not good for the business. So it's much better for us to have a system where we're taking that food and getting it into the charitable meals system before it goes bad – just from a pure P&L point of view in the store. And beyond that there are obviously reputational benefits as well.

Ms. McLaughlin made these comments at the 2015 Shared Value Leadership Summit. View full presentation.

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