Our Team

Innovation and Impact: Taking Your Organization 10x: Lessons from the Indian Approach to CSR

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The Sustainability Platform team, in partnership with PeoplePro Trainers and Consultants, held the first of what is shaping out to be a series of workshops on how to take your impact 10x. While we have done the same workshop around the world, this is the first time we did in front of an audience of Indian CSR practitioners. Here are some of the lessons we have learned along the way:

The Challenges Are Global, The Solutions Are Local

Wherever in the world you work, if you are an impact-driven organization looking to create change in the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) markets, chances are you will come across a similar set of challenges. Lack of trust, an inadequate infrastructure, high barriers to entry and lack of relevant policies often times hinder the CSR efforts. While these challenges are global, the most successful initiatives are the ones that focus on local solutions. This includes building long-term relationships with the communities; hand in hand cooperation with government bodies and a “long game” approach to impact. That might mean the shared value will take longer to be created, but the solid foundation will increase the impact 10x.

Creating an Ecosystem is a Priority

The key to sustainable social change is creating an ecosystem involving all the relevant players. This includes academia, public and private sectors, beneficiaries and non-governmental organizations. A dialogue between all the stakeholders is necessary to ensure no backtracking is happening and proper strategies are in place. Lack of communication and the exchange of ideas is an issue in many parts of the world and have severe effects of the end beneficiary and as such need to be addressed as soon as possible. Indian CSR practitioners are very open to collaboration, and proper channels need to be in place to facilitate the conversation.

Funding Remains an Issue

The Sustainability Platform firmly believes that the future of CSR budgets is impact investing. Many NGO and social enterprise managers bring up a lack of corporate funding as one of the biggest obstacles in reaching their end goal and scaling their operations. On the flip side, many CSR managers do not know how to deploy their funds to ensure maximum impact. That gap can easily be bridged if we start looking at CSR programs as impact funds that are aligned with the overall strategy of the company. The global case studies prove this to be a viable concept and hopefully we will be seeing a lot more of this approach in the Indian (and Middle Eastern) markets.

Don’t Do Things for Free

The CSR team has a great program or a product that the BOP market really needs and they are very excited about it until they realize no one from the community has signed up for it or seems to be interested in it. Their first response is to start adding on perks, from a free meal and transport to employment possibilities. And yet, the results seem to be really low. It has been proven over and over again that, in order to ensure your customer takes your service seriously, there needs to be cost attached to it. From malaria nets in Sub-Saharan Africa to vocational trainings in India, the most successful strategies are the ones that empower the beneficiaries to make the choice by paying for it. This psychological trick works in all cultures and markets, the only thing to be mindful of is finding the right pricing strategy. That way you ensure commitment and instill a sense of pride.

 

To know more about our executive workshop series contact us at info@sustainabilityplatform.org

To know more about our partners PeoplePro visit http://www.peopleprointl.com/

The Global Reach of Enterprise

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Written by Alam Zia

Globalisation is an underlying trend that has been taking the world by storm for the past fifty years. This trend refers to the ever-growing connectedness between people across the world wether it be socially, politically or economically. As I am a nineteen year old undergraduate one could assume my attention centers social and political concerns. Such as, my dissipating nationalism or the conceivable election of a reality television host. On the contrary, as a hopeful entrepreneur, I dwell on the economic factors of globalisation.

Modern technology has given ease to the conduct of trade and through that has given rise to Multinational Corporations (MNCs). In 1996 the top hundred MNCs were responsible for a third of trade in the entire worlds market[1]. The same hundred corporations also owned a quarter of all stock of foreign direct investment (FDI)[2]. These numbers are undoubtedly increasing and prove that large corporations are no longer concerned with domestic domination but are pursing to encompass the global market.

These companies have great power and with that they must have a great sense of responsibility as well, right? Most do, and thereby display programs of corporate social responsibility on their illustrious websites. But that has been shown, in the past and present, to be a veil for some select MNC’s such as Volkswagen. CSR programs encounter the dilemma of implementing characteristics like sustainable operations but lack to create initiatives for real positive change.

This is where social enterprise comes in, for me, for substantial causes and for the future. Social enterprises bridge the gap between businesses and societal issues by using non-traditional models. Doing good and being profitable is the ultimate goal. The aforementioned economic globalisation will also have an effect on this ever-growing sector. Expert in MENA, Soushiant Zanganehpour, believes that:

“The fundamental values of social entrepreneurship [will] become incorporated into  mainstream business practice. The implications of this for large businesses and brands will  vary; some may see it as a threat while others will see this as an opportunity to reinvent themselves to redefine purpose, responsibility and expectations in order to build loyalty with a new emerging consumer demographic.”

The emerging populace he refers to is the millennials and inferably the upcoming workforce of Generation Z (those born in 1995-2000’s). Social enterprise challenges the norms instilled by major corporations and forwards fluidity that is paralleled to the factors of economic globalisation. My opinion, based on the content above, is that corporations have a duty to not only preserve our fragile world but to also enhance it. Wether it’s targeting environmental or societal issues on a global or a local scale there is a need for action. Of course this is easier said than done but hundreds of attempts to do good and falling short are better than not trying at all.

 

[1]  G. Shangquan, ‘Economic Globalization: Trends, Risks and Risk Prevention’, (2000), (http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/cdp/cdp_background_papers/bp2000_1.pdf), Date Accessed: Jun 28 2016

[2]  J. Stopford, ‘Multinational Corporations’, (1998), pp. 1-3 (http://online.sfsu.edu/jgmoss/PDF/635_pdf/No_22_Stopford.pdf), Date accessed: Jun 29 2016

Coming Up: Making Every Business a Social Business

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Join us on May 3rd at AstroLabs for a free session on how to make every business a social business!

Sign up here: http://www.meetup.com/Social-Entrepreneurship-Meetup/events/230785302/?rv=ea1

 

josh astrolabs

The Introduction to Social Business: Making every Business a Social Business is designed for non-social entrepreneurs looking to create impact through their businesses.

Over the course of 90 minutes the facilitators will cover the teachings and basic principles of social businesses, using real world examples of highly impactful businesses.

This workshop is aimed at startups in all fields, entrepreneurs at all stages and anyone curious about the best practices in the social impact world.

Supporting Startups In Gaza: A Mentor’s Experience In Palestine

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Written by Tena Pick

Originally published at Entrepreneur Magazine Middle East on March 2nd 2016 http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/271639

If one were to create a list of startup epicenters in the Middle East, chances are Gaza would be overlooked. That would be a grave mistake though- one that many players in the ecosystem have been making. Since the day I found out I was to join Gaza Sky Geeks as a mentor, I was met with confusion and the same question: “But why? Why are you going to Gaza, when there can’t be any entrepreneurs there? Why are you going to Gaza, when the situation there makes it impossible for startups to thrive?” And now I can reply to these queries with first-hand experience: while the situation in Gaza is difficult (to say the least) after the ten-year embargo, people were wrong about almost everything else.

Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG), Gaza’s first and only startup accelerator, is run by the international humanitarian organization Mercy Corps. It focuses not only on the startups in the program, but also on building an ecosystem in Gaza. In its current intake, there are ten businesses, ranging from educational services to wearable technology. GSG supports female entrepreneurs as well, through a series of specially designed events and workshops that answer the specific needs of female startup owners.

I have been following the work of GSG with great interest and had filled out their online application out of curiosity. After a Skype interview and a bit of logistical emails, we agreed on my dates and on the scope of work I was expected to do in the three days on the ground with the GSG team. My focus was on scaling to MENA, crowdfunding and female leadership, as well as offering ad hoc support for the teams in GSG.

The biggest challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Gaza are not so different from entrepreneurs all over the world: how to penetrate new market segments, how to raise funds and allocate them efficiently, how to structure the business so it can grow and take on additional pressures. What is different is the drive that the entrepreneurs have: for them, it really does come down to do or die. The energy, the passion and the dedication I have witnessed in the offices of GSG cannot be compared to anything outside of Silicon Valley.

Some of the businesses have already received their first round of funding, such as Maktabi, the Airbnb for office spaces, which is doing their pilot soon in Beirut. Other notable businesses are Walk’n’Charge, a wireless device that generates energy through simple movement and can charge your device anytime, anywhere, Baskalet, a mobile game developer, and Mockapp, the InvisionApp for the Arab world.

The team behind GSG, led by Iliana Montauk, reflects the ethos of GSG: hard work plus relentless passion equals success. Everyone I worked with had been nothing but welcoming and supportive, pushing both the entrepreneurs and the mentors to do their absolute best. They are driven by a vision of a tomorrow, in which Gaza’s youth are using their skills and expertise to advance not just their own lives, but also the entire region. On top of that, they were deeply engaged throughout all mentoring sessions and had an infinite appetite for new ideas.

One of the greatest pleasures of my line of work is being able to go and explore the startup scene in different parts of the world, supporting them in their growth. Working with Gaza Sky Geeks has been nothing short of inspiring and eye opening. I encourage more and more mentors to look beyond the preconceived ideas of what Gaza is and isn’t, and go be part of the next big wave of MENA entrepreneurship.

 

World Coaching Congress Recognises The Sustainability Platform’s CEO

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This year marked the 4th edition of World Coaching Congress, held at Taj Lands End in Mumbai on February 16th 2016. The one day event covered a range of topics related to coaching and development of human resources within organisations, from the relationship of the physical body and work performance to igniting your spark and reaching your full potential. Tena Pick, The Sustainability Platform CEO, has been invited to present her signature talk on Gender, Coaching and Entering the C Suite, which explores how gender effects not only ones likeliness to reach C Suite, but also how coaching can help break “glass ceilings” and clean “sticky floors”. She has also been awarded the Best in Class Coaching Leadership award. “It was a great honour just to be in the same room as some of the world’s leading business coaches and learn so much from there, not to mention the award” said Tena. The Sustainability Platform would like to thank the organisers of the World Coaching Congress for having us and we are looking forward to next year’s edition!

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To book the TSP team for speaking sessions please contact info@sustainabilityplatform.org