World-leading vegetable seed company, East-West Seed, was ranked at number 28 out of 53 in FORTUNE’s annual Change the World list of global companies that are "doing well by doing good." The list is intended to showcase the power of capitalism to improve the human condition by identifying companies that have made an important social or environmental impact through their profit-making strategy and operations.
“Our focus is on smallholder farmers who play a critical role in ensuring the adequate supply of agricultural products. They produce 70% - 80% of the world’s food,” said Bert van der Feltz, CEO of East-West Seed. “They are vital to food security and nutrition, especially in developing countries.
“Our model at East-West Seed proves that you can make a real difference in people’s lives while also operating a successful business, the two do not need to be mutually exclusive.”
Only for-profit businesses are eligible for the list, with FORTUNE evaluating and ranking each on four criteria including measurable social impact, business results, degree of innovation and corporate integration.
“The company, which has operations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America earns high marks for its local seed breeding efforts and the training it provides its customers,” states FORTUNE in the reasoning for East-West Seed’s ranking.
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Founded in 1982 by Dutch seedsman Simon Groot, East-West Seed is one of the world’s leading vegetable seed companies.
The privately-owned company has played an important role in the development and improvement of tropical vegetable varieties that are adapted to tropical markets and growing conditions. Its mission is to provide innovative products and services that help to improve the livelihood of vegetable farmers. In addition, East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer trains over 100,000 vegetable farmers annually in order to help maximize their yield and income through better knowledge on vegetable production and farming skills.
In October of last year the company’s founder was awarded the annual World Food Prize for his decades of dedication in bringing vegetables to the forefront of the fight to improve global nutrition and health. In January 2019, East-West Seed was ranked first in the Access to Seeds Index for Global Seed Companies, besting 13 other global seed companies on their commitment and performance in providing the world’s smallholder farmers access to quality seeds.
East-West Seed has its headquarters in Nonthaburi, Thailand. The company employs about 5,000 people and has 17 R&D establishments in 7 countries. With exports to over 60 countries in tropical areas, East-West Seed serves nearly 20 million farmers around the world.
FORTUNE's methodology for the “Change the World” list
The selection process begins with an open call for nominations from business, academic, and nonprofit organizations around the world. By definition, only for-profit businesses are eligible, and companies with revenues > US$1 billion are given preference, and FORTUNE strives to create a global and well-rounded list. Companies are ranked on each of four criteria: 1. Measurable social impact: FORTUNE considers the reach, nature, and durability of the company's impact on one or more specific societal problems. This category receives particularly close attention. 2. Business results: FORTUNE considers the benefit the socially impactful work brings to the company. Profitability and contribution to shareholder value outweigh benefits to the company's reputation. 3. Degree of innovation: FORTUNE considers how innovative the company's effort is relative to that of others in its industry and whether other companies have followed its example. 4. Corporate Integration: FORTUNE considers how integral the initiative is to a company's overall strategy, and how well that strategy is communicated through the ranks and elsewhere. Each year, FORTUNE looks for new companies with recent impact. The initial solicitation and assessment of nominees is conducted in partnership with the Shared Value Initiative, a global platform for organizations seeking business solutions to social challenges. A team of journalists from FORTUNE then investigates each of the candidates independently. The final list is selected and ranked by the editors of FORTUNE based on the magazine’s own reporting and analysis.
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