Business Best Practice A Gallery
Whether you are running a social enterprise or more traditional business, the challenges in selling products or services are similar across the board.
At the 2 nd Ashoka Support Network Summit held last month in London, more than 150 successful entrepreneurs from both the business and social sectors came together to share best practices and discuss how their combined forces can create even more transformative action
Telling Your Story
Successful storytelling goes beyond a touchy-feely narrative and even beyond powerful imagery. To pack a punch in a crowded market, gripping stories need to be backed by hard stats and data. The best storytellers can also tell their stories simply. For example, Ashoka Fellow Luke Dowdney s start-up, which brings boxing classes to the favela s of Rio de Janeiro and the streets of London to keep children out of neighborhood gangs, is appropriately called Fight for Peace. Speaking about his work, Luke says, the key for me was making a lot of people a excited about what we do. Fight for Peace is creating innovative and financially sustainable ways to support young people in communities affected by crime and violence around the world.
Since Luke founded FFP in 2000, the organisation has supported over 10,000 young people at its Academies in Rio de Janeiro and London and is currently training 120 community based partner organisations globally by 2015 that support a total of 70,000 young people.
To be set up for success, a new social business needs a strong mission backed up with passion only then can one start to devise a clear plan on how to achieve the vision and theory of change. Luke Downdey comments that strong roots for success are dependent on a commitment to shared vision, while Fellow Kovin Naidoo agrees Its a two-way street. If theres a disconnect, the magic doesnt happen. Secondary to this is a strong go to market model with a strategy for impact measurement in place, collecting data becomes habitual and purpose-driven.
Each enterprise will take a different path to scale the challenge lies in deciding which one is most appropriate and where to scale first. Especially with regards to location, taking the path of least resistance may be a good first step: it takes less energy, and success stories can open new doors. For Ashoka Fellow Madison Ayer. scaling is at the basis of his model: Farm Shop focuses on the last mile in the delivery of agricultural inputs to rural households in Africa.
Farm Shop customers, smallholder farmers in Kenya, become more productive with access to professional training, education, and information programs, including demo days with product suppliers and farm visits from area agronomists. Ayers franchise network provides farmers with all the tools they need to be successful, wherever they may be.
We are very encouraged by Farm Shops original model and we believe that this idea, in Madisons hands, is going to spread throughout East Africa, Salim Mohamed, Ashokas Representative for East Africa, said about the newly elected Fellow in 2011. Madison is a classic example of a social entrepreneur; he defines success as passing savings associated with economies of scale to smallholder farmers, and we believe that the new model he is creating will transform the field.
Transition and Succession Planning
Founders have to understand the life-cycle of a business and that different skills will be required at different stages. Avoiding Founders Syndrome is often harder than it sounds, yet establishing clear values and surrounding yourself with the right team can ease the transition period. Although things may be run in a different way when someone new takes over, the fundamental goals should remain intact.
Even if you think you know the right people, approaching corporations has to be done strategically, with a clear idea of what the corporate partner will gain from the relationship. This is why the most successful partnerships will revolve around shared value or even scope for Hybrid Value Chains in which the social enterprise directly links into the corporations work.