You decided to quit a well-paying job to do something meaningful like educating poor children, giving a sustainable livelihood to artisans, delivering better healthcare facilities and above all a holistic approach to alleviating poverty, apathy, and ignorance. Kudos!
Starting up your social enterprise and setting it up as a process-driven organization will surely take a lot of dedication, hard work and above all, perseverance to get people to change their minds. Your social enterprise is not only about addressing a specific problem but it’s also about operationally sustaining yourself while simultaneously bringing about a long-term and a large-scale positive change and for that, you need to scale up!
Here are some key questions that need answers as you scale up:
Identify A Problem – ‘What Is The Problem That I Am Passionate About Solving?’
Social entrepreneurship is not about a few extraordinary people saving the day for everyone else. At its deepest level, it is about revealing possibilities that are currently unseen and releasing the capacity within each person to reshape a part of the world. – David Bornstein, Author Of How To Change The World: Social Entrepreneurs And The Power Of New Ideas
As celebrated author David Bornstein rightly said, social entrepreneurship is not a short-term deed about giving food to the hungry or planting one tree in a year. Look for people and reasons that need changing, to bring about greater social good. There will be plenty if you look around. Sometimes, entrepreneurs just follow the problem to its source, wherever it may be. Just like Bryan Lee.
Bryan Lee, left his mainstream career in America , learnt social entrepreneurship in an Ivy league school and traveled to a distant place like Maharashtra, to understand the problems that Indian farmers face.
Create A Prototype and Test it – “Do I Have A Workable Solution That Solves The Problem Of My Target Audience?”
It’s where the heart of Gandhi meets the mind of Henry ford. – Kyle Westaway, Author Of Profit & Purpose: How Social Innovation Is Transforming Business For Good
Create a robust product or a service- based business model that stems from a social innovation which can be replicated for a global population with similar socio-economic criteria and needs. Your target audience most often are either members of the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) community or are general masses that would use products or services made by the BOP community. Testing your prototype in a limited target market can offer great insights into its behaviour, needs and motivations.
SustainEarth started out by testing their BioGas plant prototype on dairy farmers like Krishna Reddy to assess its workability.
Identify Impact Parameters – “What Defines The Impact That I Am Delivering Through My Product Or Service”
If You Aren’t Making A Difference In Other People’s Lives, You Shouldn’t Be In Business – It’s That Simple- Richard Branson, Founder Virgin Group. Author Of Screw Business As Usual
A successful product or a service is the one that makes a tangible positive difference in the lives of its target communities on a sustained basis. It’s crucial to measure this difference through a set of well-defined impact metrics that are directly relevant to your target community. Needless to say impact parameters vary across sectors and prototyping and testing your product or service serves as foundation to understand your impact.
For NanoHealth, Diagnosis, Right Treatment and Compliance are the key impact parameters around which they operate.
Monitor and Improvise – “Does My Solution Need Tweaking To Be More Suitable To My Target Audience?”
To Change Something, Build A New Model That Makes The Existing Model Obsolete. – Carl Frankel Author Of The Art Of Social Enterprise: Business As If People Mattered
Monitor your innovation continuously. Seeking one-on-one feedback from your customers, can help you in making tweaks to your original design thus improving its usability and reliability.
Bhushan Trivedi, CEO Picoenergy talks about how their solar lamps had to undergo various iterations after receiving critical feedback from his target customers.
Scale Up – “How Do I Reach More People Outside My Current Sphere Of Impact, Who Suffer From The Similar Problem?”
Is It Uncomfortable For You To Think About Making Money Doing Something Good? Wouldn’t It Be More Moral To Be Uncomfortable With Making Money Doing No Good? – Dan Pallotta, Author Uncharitable. Ted Talk Top 100 Most Viewed “The Way We Think About Charity Is Dead Wrong”
Initially, you lay the foundation of your social enterprise by identifying the problem and coming up with a working solution for it. But, as the impact created by you grows beyond its original context, there is a need to include other geographically-apart communities with similar problems into the fold. The need to touch more lives, solve their problems and create more development while being able to profitably sustain your operations drives entrepreneur to scale up
Social enterprise Divine Chocolate started in 1999 as a fair-trade organization in the UK in partnership with Kuapa Kokoo farmers co-operative in Africa and then expanded to the US in 2007.
We are in an age where commercially rewarding businesses are no more the hallmarks of being successful. It’s what you do for the ‘Greater Good’ while doing business that matters. Social entrepreneurs who base their businesses on social good, need to expand sustainably to bring positive change in the world.