Co-hosted by Mars Economics of Mutuality (EoM) Foundation and the American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham China), the international seminar themed Why Does Purpose as A Strategy Make A Difference in Today's Post-COVID World? was held online on August 27.
Co-hosted by Mars Economics of Mutuality (EoM) Foundation and the American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham China), the international seminar themed Why Does Purpose as A Strategy Make A Difference in Today's Post-COVID World? was held online on August 27. Leading experts from Mars EoM Foundation, XAG, VISA China, and YouChange China Social Entrepreneur Foundation were brought together with hundreds of other business leaders to discuss how the primacy of purpose could transform business performance across the people, planet, and profit equation. Justin Gong, Co-founder of XAG, shared the power of unmanned agriculture technologies as profitable solutions to the relevant social and environmental problems in the global food system.
This seminar was part of the Mars EoM program series, which aims to explore a more sustainable and inclusive path forward that helps business thrive in the post-COVID era. Based on fifteen years of in-depth academic research and business practice, the Economics of Mutuality is a ground-breaking management innovation that empowers companies to seek a purpose that goes beyond profit maximisation. It was developed within Mars, Incorporated in collaboration with Oxford University and other top academic institutions.
Create Purpose-centric Values with Drones and Robots
Alan Beebe, the President of AmCham China expressed in the opening remarks that the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced unprecedented challenges and opportunities to companies worldwide. There is a new urgency for business to consider how emerging digital technologies can lead to the achievement of the economics of neutrality goals.
With the mission of advancing agriculture, XAG is an agriculture technology company which has been putting the EoM values into practice. Unlike many other companies addressing their positive impacts through separate charity or corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, XAG is born with CSR embedded and empowers millennial generation with drones and robots to reshape the agriculture landscape.
"Our business naturally has a purpose, which is based on solving environmental and rural development issues such as the loss of biodiversity and aging farming population. We develop agricultural drones, farming robots, IoT systems, and smart agriculture farm management software to conduct field works as tedious and dangerous as seeding, spraying pesticides, and crop scouting. In this case, the young generation farmers can focus more on managing agricultural inputs and making decisions to optimise the production workflow," Justin Gong, Co-founder of XAG said.
XAG's smart agriculture solutions can not only help farmers improve productivity through autonomous operations, but also generate higher profits for smallholders and farm owners. Drones and robots are cost-effective, eco-friendly tools of precision agriculture, conserving water and reducing the use of pesticides while closing yield gap to ensure food security.
Mutuality as A New Force to Boost Economic Resilience
Inclusive collaboration and profit sharing are the key paths forward to promote mutuality business growth. For example, XAG has been working with local government in China to build digital farming infrastructure that paves the way for standardised operations of unmanned agricultural equipment, as well as the hands free farms.
"Just like people in the city have grown accustomed to calling a taxi or ordering a meal with their smartphone, farmers in rural areas can also order drones and robots from their service providers to implement the fieldwork. This is easily achieved by using the lightweight survey drone to take high-definition field maps on the farm. In the meantime, we provide technical training for young generation to help them better adapt to the age of big data," Justin Gong explained. This shows that XAG is more than designing new tools and products for the company itself, but to create a smart agriculture ecosystem for the whole society that connects farmers, producers, and consumers.
Mutuality as a new form of sustainable, inclusive growth model can be a powerful force to increase business resilience under crisis. This March in China, when the coronavirus outbreak exacerbated rural labour shortages and threatened to disrupt the spring planting season, XAG leveraged its nationwide distribution and service network to successfully seed million hectares of rice fields with drones. "In this critical period, we launched an online program that trained farmers to become drone pilots. And we also worked with the seed company to develop special coatings for rice seeds that could be directly broadcast by our drones," Gong said.
In this seminar, Bruno Roche, Former Chief Economist, Founder and Executive Director of Economics of Mutuality, Mars Incorporated, concluded that the purpose of business should not remain at pursuing higher financial performance. Instead, businesses should seek to drive holistic value creation for all stakeholders in their respective ecosystem. This is about adopting a responsible and more complete form of capitalism that is fairer and performs better than the purely financial version operating today.
So far, the mutuality business model has been soundly verified across different countries and regions. "As companies are being tested by this COVID crisis, they should build bridges, not the walls, to let social, human, natural and shared financial capital to flow, making the world economy more resilient to uncertainties such as climate change and pandemics," Gong said.