It is now widely accepted that sustainability has, over the years, become the key to success for many companies.

Having put paid to the false truth that a sustainable approach was in direct contract with a healthy, prosperous business (responsibility doesn’t mean charity!), the more forward-thinking, innovative companies of this world are changing their strategies.

So what’s the goal? To create value and distribute it to the main stakeholders, such as the local community, by creating a truly efficient, virtuous cycle.

Natural Extracts Industries (NEI), a Tanzania-based company and one of the leading players in the production of high-quality natural extracts, has adopted a strategic and organisational approach in line with these principles.

The General Manager of NEI goes by the name of Jayadeep Akkireddy, a former MBA student at MIP in Milan. After his study experience at the Milanese business school, Akkireddy embarked upon a journey around the world with the aim of consolidating his personal and professional development.

Akkireddy joined NEI as a manager in Tanzania, a professional choice with clear sustainable, forward-thinking motivations.

Indeed, NEI are one of the companies named as finalists in the Nestle Creating Shared Value Prize 2016. The sought-after accolade, which this year saw over 400 sustainable companies taking part, will be awarded to the company that has stood out for its medium- and long-term approach to creating economic and social value for its local community.

So what was it that earned NEI a place among the finalists?

Well, NEI doesn’t stop at using local resources to produce its top-of-the-range natural extracts, which include chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla and many other varieties. Rather, the company is a “social enterprise with a vision to accelerate the economic development of smallholder farmers by adding value to their local crops.” Indeed, there are currently 1000 smallholder farmers benefitting, with company board releasing development plans that forecast this number to increase sixfold in the near future.

Smallholder farmers who collaborate with NEI are more than simple employees or suppliers – they benefit from the company’s experience and are able to learn how to improve their production techniques with a view to making their methods more effective on a daily basis. The ultimate goal is to achieve a better quality of life than the current standard in East Africa.

We’re certainly talking about a company with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility. But there’s more.

One of the pillars of NEI’s vision is to “satisfy global demand for sustainably-sourced natural flavours” by offering an unquestionably excellent product.

Quite simply, NEI is a company striving to strike the perfect balance between business focus and corporate social responsibility: it represents an absorbing test, one we’re sure Jayadeep Akkireddy will pass with flying colours.