Unifrutti Tropical Philippines, Inc. (UTPI), a banana trading corporation based in Mindanao, was known for its sustainable and inclusive business practices as well as its transparent and mutually beneficial relationship with its workers, landowners and rural communities. Founded in 1992 in a region marred by wars between Muslim and Christian populations, UTPI’s experience provides valuable insight in how stable markets can emerge from a situation of zero trust. To make the initial investments in banana plantations succeed, a great amount of effort was needed to establish confidence and overcome the attendant risks.  

This case looks at the challenge that UTPI CEO Alberto Bacani was faced with, namely how to protect and nurture the company’s most important asset, its social capital, in the changing context of the company and sector. It explores how inclusive business models create the conditions for innovative and mutually-beneficial arrangements and, consequently, opportunities for addressing a multitude of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

This case is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) case series, developed by Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University. With a focus on SDG 1 (No Poverty) and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), the case is also related to SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). Video learning materials and other resources about these SDGs are available at www.rsm.nl/sdgs

1. Describe the key drivers of an inclusive business model in the context of SDG  1 and SDG 16.  

2. Analyse the dilemmas and trade-offs companies face in their attempts to  make their value chains more inclusive. 

3. Discuss the importance of governance of global value chains. 

4. Explain the concept of social capital and trust. 

This case is suitable for Master students (MSc or MBA) and executive students in  courses of sustainability, strategy, leadership and general management. It can also be  used for teaching other social and political-economy studies. 

Inclusive business model; value chain; trust; social capital; governance; community; rural, war; peace; The Philippines; Asia; institutional voids; wicked problem; transformational relationship 

Request a teaching note via cdc@rsm.nl