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 firstname.lastname@example.org
To know more about our partners PeoplePro visit http://www.peopleprointl.com/
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
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.
Written by Aya Sadder
Adopting the principle that nine out of ten startups fail after three years of operations, it is essential to have an advisory arm in place that minimises risk and maximises the potential to succeed; for credibility to investors and as a benefit to entrepreneurs. If the business is going to fail, an advisory arm can help pivot to avoid that, and learn quickly from the mistakes that doom 90% of startups. Team dynamics, board-building, planning operations, marketing the business and finding more talent can be a huge burden on startups and are crucial to be resolved early on as the company is trying to grow. As we enter an era that is progressively entrepreneurial, with alternative funding mechanisms being in high demand, crowd-investing with an advisory arm will be one of the best solutions. The Economist released a report earlier this year stating a “320% increase in funding in Asia, with $3.4 billion raised, propelling the continent past Europe to become the second-largest crowd funding region.” (The Economist, April 4, 2015) With that growth in mind, do social businesses stand a chance? Mohamed Yunus popularly defines social businesses as “a cause-driven business” with expectations that the investors/owners can gradually recoup the money invested, but cannot take any dividend beyond that point.” In the context of yield, how can social businesses then become investable, and how many investors out there are willing to participate without any financial gain? This type of social enterprise does exist. Let’s have a look at companies like Aspirefg, who continue to scale their business, re-invest their profits and continue to operate with by constantly innovating their product and accessing new markets. Their mission is to “provide economically challenged, malnourished populations with high protein and micronutrient-rich food solutions derived from the supply and development of insects and insect-based products”. As a company operating with a brand philosophy to make a change, they are still able to operate as a profitable social business by diversifying their value proposition. With the advisory of the 2013 Hult Prize, this winning team not only became successful, but integrated their activities and business plan into the local communities. Potentially, the next step for these winners is to crowd-invest to genuinely validate the community’s support. In this social business’ scenario, stakeholders who are end-users have a great opportunity to become shareholders as well, ensuring everyone benefits in the end. We validated this further by interviewing the winner of the Middle East Dubai Acumen Social Business Plan 2013 Competition and founder of Green truck, Mr. Diya Khalil, mentioned that “after winning he never considered crowd-investing because he wanted there to be a marriage in the vision of his company with the investor who chose to be a part of his impact… but heard time and time again feedback from his customers that the whole community should be pitching in to his business to make sure it thrives.” (August 30, 2015) Crowd investing is the way forward for social businesses that want to grow and impact communities at large in a sustainable way with the help and support of advisors to direct and nurture the building blocks that will turn that dream into a reality. Thus, to Yunus’ definition of social business, if we add scalability and revenue generation foundations into their business models early on, adopting a profitable status for these companies will make them more investable and will ensure a high return, both socially and financially; for it is the community who benefits in the end. The most important aspects for a social business to be profitable is scale and replicability under different cultural, economic and demographic settings. The best way to reach that scale is getting large communities across the globe to be stakeholders in the truest form. References: http://www.muhammadyunus.org/index.php/social-business/social-business http://www.forbes.com/2010/06/15/forbes-india-muhammad-yunus-social-business-opinions-ideas-10-yunus.html http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235378 http://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/topics_ext_content/ifc_external_corporate_site/gender+at+ifc http://www.economist.com/news/economic-and-financial-indicators/21647603-global-crowdfunding http://www.aspirefg.com/