SDG Pioneer for Large National and Multinational companies

Fanilo Rakotovao Rakotoarison

Social Impact Director, Axian Group



Embracing the superhero within: Becoming an SDG Pioneer is like becoming a sustainability superhero, fighting to make our world greener and fairer. What's your special power for this mission?

When it comes to the work of Axian Group, I'm just the tip of the iceberg in a team working hard to contribute to the development of my home in Madagascar, in the continent of Africa. My selection as an SDG Pioneer means that I represent all the superheroes on the Axian team. With the light that shines upon me as an SDG Pioneer, I hope to inspire others and set an example. Even the smallest actions can make a difference. It is up to all of us to advance sustainability and contribute to building a better world.

 Origin story: Please briefly describe your journey towards becoming an SDG Pioneer.

I began my career path graduating with a Masters in Marketing Management. In 2003, I was honored to be selected as a representative for Madagascar at the ITU Telecom World event. At this meeting, I was positioned to explore how new and innovative technology can contribute to a nation’s socioeconomic development. I embraced the critical issue of how to improve the drinking water supply chain and enhance the sanitation sector. I then took these experiences forward working for a social enterprise that fights child malnutrition. I joined Axian in 2019 to lead their social impact department. 

Turning passion into purpose: Your SDG Pioneer recognition shines a spotlight on your incredible work. Please explain the work for which you are being recognized as an SDG Pioneer and how your interest in this field developed.

I am very proud to say that I manage the scope123 carbon footprint studies of 17 of our group companies in five countries. This includes socio-economic studies and standards measurement, utilizing internal tools of impact scoring. Our Axian tools of analysis include a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) chosen as priorities for Axian. These SDGs are then broken down into measurable annual targets. In my position as Social Impact Director, I have encouraged several of our companies to self-assess their impacts by completing the BIAssessment. A great personal achievement was guiding two of those companies to BCorp certification, including one with a score of 148.5 points.

Every epic tale has its share of challenges: Please share some challenges and battles you've encountered while pursuing your SDG ambitions. 

The first major challenge I encountered was the skillful integration of social and environmental impact objectives alongside financial gains and cost measurement. We all must recognize that it is an ongoing battle to consistently ensure employees take ownership of their impact. As Social Impact Director, I aim to integrate the vision at the heart of Axian’s strategy and find the right positive impact business model for each company. The additional battle in Africa is to protect the environment while also meeting the needs of our people and those of the world. Innovation is necessary and critical. 

Accomplishments: As part of your SDG journey, what stands out as the most rewarding? Please describe a moment that made you feel like you were unlocking a new level of impact.

Each step remains important. One key milestone was the release of the first impact report of 2020. This was accompanied by the completion of our first Communication on Progress. Even with these achievements, the most rewarding moment was the certification of two of our companies as BCorps in 2023. These companies included Welight in the renewable energy sector with an impressive score of 148.5 points and MVola in the mobile banking and financial inclusion sector.

Next chapters: What’s next in your career and journey? Please give us a sneak peek!

At Axian, I'm currently assisting our largest business unit with its commitment to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTI). Personally, I’m proud to say I've just received a certificate from HECParis and a Ticket for Change for completing a class entitled "Become a Changemaker, Build a Career with Purpose and Impact.” 

This course has really inspired me. It made me ask the question, how can I become a better social impact employee, corporate changemaker and social entrepreneur? In any case, I'll be proud of my achievements. Thanks to this SDG pioneer title, I aim to inspire others to become changemakers.

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