Ashoka, the network of social entrepreneurs, and Fundemex, the foundation created by the Mexican Council for the Coordination of Business, have launched a partnership to promote what they call hybrid value chains – collaborations between social entrepreneurs and businesses that will use the strengths of both sectors to create, among other things, new products, channels of distribution and access to finance which will benefit poorer communities and provide greater access for businesses and social enterprises to those communities.
As an example, the Mexican Association of Social Sector Credit Unions (AMUCSS), led by Ashoka fellow Isabel Cruz, has launched a micro-life insurance programme for rural communities, in cooperation with insurance company Zurich. Currently, it is selling 1,000 policies a month, with potential for greater growth. The symbolic significance of the partnership is perhaps just as important, in that it marks a recognition on the part of both sectors that they are drawing closer together. Civil society organizations are becoming more efficient and economically sustainable, while for their part businesses are keen both to find means of becoming more socially responsible and to develop their customer base among poorer communities.