From Bcorporation.uk site. “Ogunte believe in social impact made by women, and that influential, skilled and connected women with bold solutions to social and environmental issues can create sustainable opportunities to make the world a better place. They kindly spared us a few miutes to tell us more.”Read more
During our first Make a Wave incubator Bootcamp in 2014, we played “The Dragon’s Apprentice Den"! Here’s how it works - and here’s what we learned.
How it works.
The group of participants divide in two groups. One one side: the investors. On the other side: the entrepreneurs.
The investors co-design questions they want answers to. The entrepreneurs listen to each other’s pitches and decide on one person’s venture to put forward. The designated “founder” explains her idea and others ask questions to understand as much as they can about the business and become part of her support team.
The entrepreneurs pitch. The investors ask their questions. The entrepreneurs provide answers to support their “founder”.
The participants learned how to:
Further thoughts that the exercise provoked:
We also learned tha tinvestors can get excited by your passion too. They have feelings and emotions that help them make a judgment beyond just a track record, order sheets or promises of sales. Useful to remember!
Don’t you feel it is time you invited yourself into a conversation about money?
A conversation about the money you haven’t made yet;
About the outgoings you haven’t budgeted for as you started your business;
About the cashflow that melts like ice in the sun;
Let’s talk about the corporate finance expertise you never allowed yourself to get;
The funder you were counting on and that is folding;
The CFO you wanted to keep at all costs and who is flying back to Argentina;
The aspiring clients who can’t rise up to your new fees structure;
The money you’ve invested in a company, which didn’t return anything;
The time you haven’t got to fill in this humongous funding application;
The job that would be so much easier to get compared to this gig where you can’t close the deal;
The advice and the mentoring provided for exposure;
The exit strategy that was so badly designed;
So if you want to sit down and talk about this money story, by all means, please comment and we’ll make a it a priority.Read more
Mistake 1: Pushing entrepreneurs to go big straight away.
Thinking and going big are two different routes. Building solid traction and collecting evidence along the way are essential first steps.
Zeina Saab, founder of the Nawaya Network in Lebanon, unlocks young people’s hidden potential and turns them into changemakers. She said: “I wish I had known to start really small rather than try to do too many things at once. I recall setting up Nawaya back in 2011 and 2012, and having so many exciting ideas, and trying to do them all. For example, our online platform was supposed to be this really easy-to-use tool to connect youth to resources, but there were so many options on the site that it was confusing to users and difficult for our very small team to manage, so we never really got to use the platform in the way we had envisioned.
if I could go back and do it again, I would start really, really small, focus on our core mission, get success stories, and build off of that.”
Connect to Zeina here
Mistake 2: You are an eternal bachelor
As an independent consultant, you are free to deliver your signature curriculum programme, yet are you reaching the right people? Have you got the impact you claim you have on your brochure?
If not, how can you change this?
The key is to not continue on your own. However partnering is not as straight forward as it seems. Like in marriage, there needs to be affinity, a courting and dating period, and eventually, a solid contracting: choose your partnerships carefully.
For support providers as much as for entrepreneurs, there needs to be complimentarity, equality, accountability… and learning.
“The Cobra Foundation partnership has allowed us to have knowledge, experience, contacts and skills that Belu doesn’t have in that sector, and couldn’t have acquired cost effectively. We are open to all partnerships that increase our capability and/or reach.”
Partnering with a like minded organisation works if you have a clear sense of what makes you stand out, the evidence and added value you bring to the mix, the assets you are looking for, and the eagerness to share and educate others about your joint expertise.
Connect to Karen here
Mistake 3: You are “helping” entrepreneurs without contributing to changing the ecosystem.
Your knowledge is precious, it should contribute to educate your peers and influence your system.
What do you know about women social entrepreneurs, that others don’t? How can you contribute to bring a gender lens to the sector, and make changes easy (or more palatable) for everyone?How recent/old is your knowledge of your ecosystem?
Flavia Amadeu, who designs accessories of organic rubber from the Amazon, Brazil, explains how she started in the social business sector and her take on “helping”: “My mother was always involved in volunteer work and it became part of my education. This made me to interact with people of all ages living distinct and difficult realities. However, there was something that made me feel uneasy at times. It was a paternalist idea of ‘helping’ without really changing anything, which is very common in Brazil. I began then to think of how I could contribute to promote positive changes and I how design could be a means for that.”
Connect to Flavia here.
Mistake 4: You help entrepreneurs to form a strong team and you run away.
There is something precious in a budding entrepreneur’s lack of experience that business supporters should harness more. Building a robust team is essential but it is not the end itself.
The core work starts with questioning and building decision-making skills.
“I was worried about starting a tech business. But two things have helped me to get beyond the problem. Firstly I’ve ensured that I have a team around me who are super tech, whose experience I respect and whose decisions I trust. And secondly I’ve recognized the value that my naivety also brings. It’s important to able to ask those simple, human questions of the build team that tech people might take for granted.
At Ogunte, we encourage the social business advisors we support to adopt an open innovation attitude when supporting their clients.
We encourage them to use naive questions: “What if”, “Why is that”, “Where do you do x,y,z”?; “If you could bring your [other sector’s] expertise in this specific context, how would you get on with the issue?”, “What are you able to do, despite all your current constraints?”. Ask these questions back until your clients come up with a list of options, and answers from a variety of sources, and ultimately, clarity.
Come back the following year and ask how things went.
Mistake 5: You haven’t attended your own workshop
Women social entrepreneurs are ok to go through vocational or technical training themselves but they dread courses that do not offer inspiration or lack innovative approaches. The death by PowerPoint is still pandemic.
They have already googled and filled in the Social Business Canvas, yet for some of them, nothing substantial has come out of it.
Experiment, take people on a future thinking journey, invest in rapid prototyping, reduce the testing costs, let them hack their own business. Ask them what would happen if they resigned…
Mistake 6: You still provide off-the-shelf templates
The British Council State of Social Enterprise Study in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, shows that lack of technical skills is seen as the biggest barrier to growth, followed by access to finance.
In Bangladesh, the highest proportion of Social Enterprises work in the education and seek to promote education and literacy as key objectives even if they operate across other sectors.
In Ghana, female social enterprise leaders are more likely to focus on health objectives, to support beneficiaries int heir local communities, and to hire female staff.
It seems that taking the time to tailor your niche offering, to back it up with strong evidence, and to add a robust gender lens and a culturally sensitive approach into the mix, are essential steps, which will help you provide a much better service.
That will also require study time. Have you factored that in?
Early 2017, we will be resuming our support activities for social business advisors, consultants, and coaches, with a very interactive programme. Stay tuned and drop us a tweet at @ogunte should you want to know more.
By Servane Mouazan
We were delighted when
Adele Blakebrough, CEO of the Social Business Trust, opened our first Make A Wave incubator. She generously shared insights on growing, scaling and funding for social businesses. Adele also described the characteristics that make a venture worthy of investment by her organization. A couple of years later, we think her advice is just as relevant and so we’re sharing it with our whole community.
Adele has a practitioner background. She has always been interested in linking social enterprises with peers, experts, diverse sources of finance and more importantly, growing them into recognised household brands. She will be satisfied if anyone can name at least 100 of the +/-66,000 social businesses that are said to be on the market place. She acknowledges that some projects are meant to stay small and local, whilst others should grow regionally, even nationally, to make a substantial and incremental difference.
The Social Business Trust targets established businesses that turn over £1 million a year, but that can also prove their social model and the impact they make. Being a charity, the Social Business Trust focuses essentially on organisations that have an asset lock and have a clear model of reinvestment in their social purpose. Charities who have a product to sell and a viable proposition, can qualify, others with a model solely focused on donations and that are not replicable on a larger scale won’t qualify.
Adele stresses that beyond the robust business model and evidence of impact, the Trust also looks at the profile of the CEO. Is she passionate enough to lead the organisation to the next level? Additionally, they wants to see strong teams that demonstrate the intention to grow regionally and nationally. A characteristic of successful investees is their willingness to welcome outside experts. Adele stresses that she sometimes notices reluctance to absorb outside expertise. Working in silos can be dangerous at that stage.
Importantly, Adele was keen to point out that social entrepreneurs shouldn’t wait to turn over £1 million to start nurturing relationships with potential investors!
By connecting early, investors can involve entrepreneurs in development opportunities, relevant events or seminars that will help them reach the £1 million threshold.
She says “the more we see you, the more we are likely to remember your face and your story. I personally like to see the progress you make.”
The top 3 tips Adele shared with the group:
1) Communicate clearly. Be able to communicate in one short sentence what your business is all about: your aim, what you do and how you pay for it. (Whatever your sources of finance are: grant, equity, public contracts, etc)
2) Don’t give up when somebody says no! That’s the worst they can do. So show sheer determination and stick around until someone says yes.
3) Set ambitious and audacious goals but start small in a very focused way. So test your model as you go, again and again. And change what needs to be changed.