Business partnerships – Examples from the 2015 BSR

How to work together towards sustainability? You will find here some KEY words on how we should/could start. For sure some ideas are common sense but sometimes they are not necessarily used in business practices.


Dialogue: We want to work together being competitors, client/customer, partner, consultant we need to talk together we need to listen to each other in order to build a relationship that will address the concerns of both sides.

Respect: We need to respect each other, give them space they need to avoid a too dependent relationship.

Break down the clichés: Even more when a collaboration is developed between competitors

Longterm relationship: If we want to see the results of this partnership, we need to bet, and  work on a longterm basis.

Investments: such partnerships do not arise in 1 day, each party need to invest time and resources to build the partnership towards a common goal and with common sustainable values.

During the UEBT ‘Beauty of Sourcing with Respect’ Conference, this issue had been addressed showing two examples of partnerships.

The Ecoparque:

Logo Natura BEB

symrise logo

And others to come

Concept developed by Natura to build a production and R&D Center closer to the natural ingredients, closer to the supplier communities, creating value addition directly in the Amazon, promoting collaboration with local Universities from Manaus or Belém. The project came true more than a year ago.

The requirements to join the Ecoparque are quite high in terms of sustainable commitments, partners would need to show real Sustainable Development goals as part of the corporate strategy, they need to create value based on Biodiversity innovation. Natura used the Ethical BioTrade principles as commitment in the supply chains that partners will need to implement along time.

The first to join is Symrise Amazon from Symrise. They were looking to get closer to their suppliers, to benefit from the local Universities for Research collaboration and to have a very sustainable production unit as proposed in the Ecoparque. As well, Symrise Amazon values and shares the Ethical BioTrade principle with Natura and implement them throughout their supply chains.

L’Oréal and its Quinoa husk:

logo L'Oreal r&i gold

A part from the very innovative ingredient, it is interesting to highlight how L’Oréal built this supply chain. Quinoa husk is a co-product of the common Quinoa production. In addition of creating a renewable ingredient using green chemistry, etc. L’Oréal built a sustainable supply chain in Bolivia. As mentioned during Rachel Barré’s presentation, the importance is to find good, reliable local partners sharing the same vision and values. In that sense, l’Oréal partnered with EcoTerra and a local NGO Fundacion PROINPA to build the supply chain with the expected outcomes:

  • Increase crop yields and Farmers livelihood;
  • Reduce impact on the environment and enhance local biodiversity;
  • Secure access to high quality Quinoa husk through reliable and sustainable supply chain;
  • Contribute to promote organic farming of Quinoa real from Bolivia.

The KEY words of the beginning of the articles have been used and respected to ensure such partnerships.

L’Oréal managed to build this supply chain because they create a dialogue between the different actors. They did not shortcut the supply chain, they rely on partners that have great competencies and that are locally settled. They try as much as possible to respond to the concerns of every actors while ensuring theirs.

Natura and Symrise work hand in hand to get closer to their communities: being the same or not, being potentially competitors on some R&D activities. But sharing the same values, the same willingness to create local value addition and increase their positive impact in the region.

So YES, the dialogue and the respect between partners are key to successful projects.

There are plenty other examples of such partnership. You can read about the Fair trade Community programme of The Body Shop. This programme is the DNA of the brand and The Body Shop wants now to extend these practices to more and more of their natural ingredients. Read more about their programme here.