Two IMD cases highly commended by the Financial Times - IMD Business School
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Two IMD cases highly commended by the Financial Times

IMD-authored cases demonstrating how sustainability can be put at the heart of an agribusiness enterprise and exploring how a social enterprise pivoted to make money for itself and investors while staying true to its purpose, are commended as valuable teaching tools.
January 2023

Two IMD cases have featured on the “highly commended” list at the Financial Times’ Responsible Business Education Awards which recognize innovative teaching resources that have sustainability as a key learning objective. 

ANGAZA: A Silicon Valley journey co-authored by Vanina Farber, elea Professor of Social Innovation, and Shih-Han Huang, a research associate at IMD, explores the case of Lesley Silverthorn Marincola, a female entrepreneur who founded Angaza in 2010 as a for-profit social enterprise aimed at eliminating energy poverty for people living without access to electricity. 

The case examines how Angaza pivoted away from its initial business model of selling portable solar lights to end customers to providing pay-as-you-go monitoring and metering software to solar product manufacturers, helping to attract traditional venture capital investment in addition to philanthropic impact investment. The Angaza case breaks the mold of many existing business cases as it features a relatable, successful young female founder who is commercially minded (the Silicon Valley mindset) as she seeks to pivot her social enterprise’s business model for scale. 

“Social innovation cases with female protagonists are particularly important, as they shed light on the unique challenges women-led initiatives face in the real world and help to bridge the gap in representation and understanding in business schools,” said Farber and Huang. “We like that this case is very flexible and can be used to teach fields such as strategy, entrepreneurship and leadership.” 

The second case study highly commended by the Financial Times was Lionheart Farms (Philippines) and the tree of life co-authored by four IMD EMBA students Anna Ziolkovska, Jose Mora, Said Chekri and Thibaud de Veyrac, under the supervision of Benoit Leleux, Stephan Schmidheiny Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance. 

The case documents the genesis and development of Lionheart Farms in Palawan in the Philippines, the first large-scale, vertically integrated hybrid coconut plantation to produce and market organic coconut syrup and coconut flower water. Lionheart contributes to resolving the crisis in the coconut industry by developing a new business model based on scale, the best agricultural practices and inclusion of local communities, and which puts sustainability at the core of its activities, from farming to marketing. 

The case raises two essential questions for the learning participants: (1) Should Lionheart change or adapt its corporate or its business strategies given the disruption and societal changes during and after COVID-19? (2) How is Lionheart’s focus on sustainability likely to impact its profitability and competitiveness? These questions force readers to investigate the tensions between sustainable agribusiness and financial viability. Will there be pressures to tame down sustainability and inclusion practices to improve financial returns? Is sustainable agribusiness the future? Or is it doomed?    

“The recognition by the Financial Times shows that high-quality cases can be developed with the help of EMBA participants, and I hope that this case will serve as an inspiration and model to other business school students,” said Professor Leleux. “The case shines a spotlight on entrepreneurs working in developing economies and demonstrates that sustainability-driven agriculture  can lead to better outcomes for all stakeholders.” 

Both cases have previously been recognized in other competitions.  

Angaza was recognized in the African Business Cases category at the 2021 EFMD Case Writing Competition and also won the Outstanding Case Writer prize in the Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2022. 

Lionheart Farms was recognized with a first-place award in the HEC Montreal CSR case-writing competition.