The new faculty member has won the EFMD Case Writing Competition again with a case about Ecoflora, a global pioneer in the development of plant-based extracts.

Written with Roberto Gutierrez Los Andes University (Colombia), the case titled Ecoflora: Sustainable Innovation in an Emerging Economy, has won the 2021 EFMD Case Writing Competition - probably the most prominent of contest of this type at the global level - in the “Inclusive Business Models” category. The case has been published recently, and is already available on Harvard Business Publishing's website as well as the Case Centre’s (in English and Spanish).

“It honours me to have received this recognition for the third time,” commented Ezequiel Reficco, who joined ESCP Business School as an Associate Professor of management in Jaunuary 2022. He had been rewarded with the top prize in the 2020 edition of this contest (in the ”Latin American Business Cases” category), as well as in the 2018 edition (in the “Inclusive Business Models” category). “An initial privilege for us as authors is to learn from amazing initiatives developed amidst difficult circumstances in Colombia. Ecoflora is an excellent example of what happens when business leaders commit themselves to societal change and honour the resilience of social and environmental systems which we all depend on. Another benefit is to have the opportunity of making Ecoflora’s case visible to a large global audience. Following the success of this company and discussing its journey through the case is a fortune we are delighted to share.”

A textbook example of inclusive business models

The case describes Ecoflora’s journey, from the moment the Cock family acquired it in 1997, driven to a large extent by the urge to catalyse positive social and environmental change in Chocó --Colombia's poorest department. As the company sought to establish itself, its leadership extracted valuable lessons from a series of eventful twists and turns: the company began to focus on innovation after one of its principal customers became a direct competitor, and produced own-brand products for a niche market. Ecoflora was able to become a biotechnology innovator in an emerging country by intelligently leveraging the region's science and technology ecosystem, and by systematizing its R&D+I process. Although this hybrid company created an inclusive supply chain, management quickly found out that company commitment to this supply chain would be conditioned by the need to expand output and meet increasing demand. Ecoflora's success would depend on increasing international sales - but not only to capture financial value.

The Ecoflora case is structured around two of the most fundamental questions in strategic management: how is value created and how is it captured? “As authors, we were intrigued by the fact that Ecoflora’s differentiation strategy made not just business sense, but that it also played a critical role in the social dimension: price premiums and robust margins financed its mission of empowering vulnerable suppliers and preserving the environment.” At the end of the case, management realises that the company's commitment to vulnerable suppliers would constrain its planned expansion to meet increasing international demand, a tension that called for difficult decisions.