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Three Powerful Tools for Fintech Practitioners

Posted By Jane Del Ser, Bankable Frontier Associates, Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

By David del Ser

(Watch our video)

Since we launched the Catalyst Fund in 2015, we have helped 15 fintech entrepreneurs deploy novel approaches to bring products and services to their customers. We have distilled the successful patterns and behaviors we have observed into toolkits and posts for those considering fintech methods for their businesses, whether they be startups or established players.

At a high level, successful fintech startups adopt principles of Design, Risk Management and Product Management, and also put modern technologies like smartphones, artificial intelligence and cloud computing at the core of their value propositions. At successful fintech startups Designers, Product Managers, CEOs and Engineers reinforce each other in multidisciplinary teams to explore the overlap between what customers find desirable, what engineers can build, and what the business requires to grow.


The function of Design is to represent the voice of the customer at all times to make sure a company stays centered on what matters most. Design is not a one-off process. In the spirit of customer validation, designers keep tight feedback loops with customers throughout the product development process, from early prototypes to usability testing of new features.

Through user research (UX) techniques like online surveys and one-one-one interviews, designers invest heavily during initial stages in order to know their customers like the back of their hand; what are their problems and pain points, and how can their company help? In fact, designers segment customers into personas to allow the team to constantly keep in mind different user profiles and needs.

Aesthetics matter. Designers work hard to perfect a product’s UI and its look and feel, so it can live up to the high expectations created by WhatsApp or Google. But great design goes beyond just user research and visuals during early product design stages. Successful inclusive fintech startups map out the Customer Journey and Service Blueprint in detail to fully understand the perspective of the user each time they  interact with the company.

Ultimately, great design creates trust, that elusive quality that all startups are chasing and that distinguishes them from their competitors. We’ve captured our lessons for startups to build trust with their customers through their products or services in our Design for Trust Toolkit.

Product Management

But designers can’t work in isolation; they need someone to lead the orchestra - and that’s where a product manager comes in. The PM takes a big picture view and works to ensure that designers, engineers and marketers all work towards the same goal. Crucially, she makes sure the product or service goal is backed by data and evidence. She keeps the whole process nimble through quick agile iterations focused on the activities of users, from initial onboarding to the retention phase. For example, using A/B Testing and usage analytics she captures details of how each users is interacting with every screen to inform engagement.

The effective product manager is very focused on the key metrics for the business, such as customer lifetime value or acquisition costs. She also works hard to explore the best channels to find new customers, including viral referrals and social media. As an example, our portfolio company Destacame has seen lead acquisition costs dropping to less than $3 through these types of digital channels. We explore some of the different tools and frameworks to help startups focus as they chart their journey from idea, to minimum viable product (MVP) and growth in our upcoming product/market fit toolkit.

Modern Technologies

And finally, you can’t have good fintech without the “tech” that is enabling these new approaches.

Most important are the smartphones, which run fintech apps and also act as channels to find and interact with users. For instance, several of our startups use WhatsApp to offer customer support and drive virality, communicating with users in the way they prefer. Smartphones can also be used to generate and capture user data, which is particularly valuable when targeting low-income consumers who traditionally have been anonymous. In that vein, our portfolio company Smile Identity validates and authenticates customer identities using selfies taken on their phones.

In addition machine learning and other artificial intelligence systems can improve customer value propositions and to automate internal processes like credit scoring using data from smartphones and other new sources like satellites. As an example, our portfolio company ToGarantido is exploring chatbots for sales of their insurance policies and customer support. Harvesting is using satellite data to understand credit and insurance risk with just a GPS read. Worldcover doesn’t even need customers to file a claim as their satellite systems award them automatically.

And software engineering helped Escala and Paygo Energy to automate most of their back-office processes to be responsive to their customers. It is easier and more affordable than ever for startups to leverage affordable SaaS solutions to architect their systems. Likewise, cloud computing is also a powerful technology that offers simplicity, lower costs and flexibility. There is no need to commit capital to purchase hardware and the team requires less engineering talent to keep the servers going.


In our experience, companies that harness the powerful combination of design, product management and modern technologies create better and more tailored value propositions. That makes for happier customers, which is what makes businesses thrive. By driving more usage, the fintech triad can create more impact in low-income populations. And digital channels and automated processes can significantly lower costs of serving customers, allowing for expansion to new markets and reducing exclusion.

Learn more by joining us for our webinar on the Catalyst Fund toolkits during the ANDE Sector Update call in January. Register here.

Tags:  Acceleration  accelerator  accelerators  Africa  ANDE Africa  Base of the Pyramid  brazil  Business Models  capacity development  early stage ecosystem  emerging markets  entrepreneurship  finance  financial inclusion  fintech  Grants Rockefeller  impact investing  impact investment  inclusive innovation  India  India; ANDE members  innovation  Kenya  Latin America  mentoring  Mexico  SGBs; accelerators; East Africa  smaholder farmers  smes  social enterprise  social entrepreneurship  social innovation  webinar  West Africa 

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GroFin opens 16th office across Africa and MENA, to invest in SMEs in Senegal

Posted By Nishika Bajaj, GroFin, Thursday, December 14, 2017

GroFin, a pioneering SME development financier, has opened its 16th office in Senegal, furthering its expansion into West Africa’s Francophone belt after Ivory Coast.

With the opening of this office, Senegalese entrepreneurs can expect to benefit from the unique model of appropriate, medium-term finance and specialised, value-added business support that GroFin extends to Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) across its locations of operation.

Headquartered in Mauritius, GroFin currently has an investment footprint in 14 countries across Africa and the Middle East – straddling key economies in Eastern Africa, Western Africa, Southern Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – with one to two countries expected to be added each year.

GroFin’s latest in-country expansion heralds a new investment horizon for its flagship Small and Growing Businesses Fund (SGB Fund). Launched in September 2014 across nine African countries, the Fund has capital commitments of USD 100 million, making it one of the largest funds specifically targeting SGBs in Africa.

The SGB Fund follows on the fully invested GroFin Africa Fund, marking 13 years during which GroFin has supported over 8,500 entrepreneurs and invested in 640 SGBs, as well as sustained 104,950 jobs, benefitted 524,770 livelihoods and added economic value exceeding USD 700 m per annum through its investees, as at 30th June 2017.

With an evergreen structure, the SGB Fund was created by GroFin together with the Shell Foundation, an independent charity; the German Development Bank, KfW; the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries, Norfund; and the Dutch government through the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF). 

Tags:  Base of the Pyramid  SGBs; West Africa; Senegal; Africa; MENA; Entrepre 

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Preparing for Scale: Developing and Retaining Talent

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The EY “Preparing for scale” webinar series aims to support impact entrepreneurs and their management teams to overcome barriers to growth. Presented in association with AcumenEchoing GreenANDE and Toniic, the webinar series will provide insightful, practical advice on how to understand and overcome these barriers to growth, as well as tangible examples of how they have been overcome in practice by leading impact entrepreneurs. 


ANDE hosted the most recent webinar on this series, with a focus on talent. Click the link below to access the recording and presentations. Please note, you will have to "register" first, and then you will have full access to the recording. 


Developing and retaining talent

Tuesday, 24 October 2017, 15:00 GMT



  • Antony Maina, ANDE - Antony represented ANDE's work on talent in our East Africa Chapter.
  • Jay Lee, Rippleworks - Jay covered how to enhance the employee value proposition as a means to developing and retaining talent.
  • Caroline Gertsch, Amani Institute - Caroline explained a model for leadership and management development training programs.
  • Glynis Rankin, Creative Metier - Glynis discussed the value of executive coaching in developing and retaining talent.


Access the recording here. 

Tags:  Scale  talent 

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From Micro to Small: How an SGB is helping other entrepreneurs grow their businesses in the Philippines

Posted By Stephanie Buck, Aspen Institute, Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The bright oranges, purples, blues, greens, and yellows advertising everything from coffee, to laundry products, to shampoo, to cigarettes are a common sight in the Philippines. These are the colors of the Sari Sari stores. Sari Sari roughly translates to “variety” in Tagalog. The stores often jut off of the owner’s home and can carry as many as 200 different types of products in one small area. And they are more than spaces to buy items for daily use. They are gathering places, an extension of the customer’s own pantry, and usually owned by women. There are upwards of a million Sari Sari stores throughout the country and while they may help their owners scrape by, they tend to remain very small and not hugely profitable.

When Mark Ruiz sees these stores, though, he sees their potential, and a question surges to the front of his mind: how can these micro-businesses grow and better meet the needs of their communities?

This question nagged at him, even while he was moving up the career ladder at Unilever, focusing on sales, customer marketing, and channel strategy. He enjoyed his work, and was grateful for the experience, but he started to feel like something was missing. His desire to help people grew stronger, and still the question would not let him go. He knew that, whatever the answer, he needed to have a business-based solution. And because of his experience and expertise in helping top Unilever clients improve their businesses through customized support in management and retail solutions, he thought, “Why not give that kind of tailored support to the smallest of store clients as well?”

And so, after seven years, Ruiz left his corporate job to co-found a social enterprise with his good friend, Bam Aquino. They eventually created Hapinoy, a play on Tagalog words that means “Happy Filipino.” After extensive research, Ruiz and Aquino determined that the main things these Sari Sari stores would benefit from would be access to capital through micro-financing, training, and new business opportunities. Focusing on these three components could help integrate the stores into the formal economy, and create alternative distribution methods to give marginalized populations better access to essential goods and services. 

Keep reading to learn how Hapinoy is helping these entrepreneurs grow their businesses from micro to small > 



Tags:  Information and Communication Technology  mobile  Southeast Asia 

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How Mobile Technology is Saving Lives in Nigeria

Posted By Stephanie Buck, Aspen Institute, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, October 4, 2017

In April 2015, a strange illness began spreading in Ondo State in Nigeria. Dozens of people started experiencing blurry vision, headaches, blindness, and loss of consciousness. Around the same time, people in nearby Rivers State began to suffer the same symptoms, sending communities into a panic, and claiming the lives of 66 people. Rumors of Ebola spread, but proved to be wrong. Instead, the mysterious disease was linked to methanol poisoning as a result of a pesticide-contaminated batch of a locally brewed gin, called Ogogoro. In total, it took more than six weeks to contain the Rivers State outbreak.

But in Ondo State, while 18 people still died tragically, the outbreak was contained in two weeks. Why the difference?

Keep reading > 


This excerpt is part of a series of stories ANDE is carrying out in partnership with Qualcomm Wireless Reach, another ANDE member. Read more stories at If you'd like to submit your own story for consideration on this site, please contact Stephanie Buck


Tags:  Information and Communication Technology  mobile  West Africa 

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Explainer: For SMEs, access to finance isn't the problem. Lending is.

Posted By Steven Zausner, Office:FMA, Wednesday, August 16, 2017

This article originally appeared in Devex.

Few people like talking — or reading — about regulation. It's boring.

While frequently mind numbing, if ignored, regulation can often lay waste to the best-laid plans, especially when it comes to accessing financing for small and medium-sized enterprises. As it stands, there are two regulatory challenges that are causing major headwinds for SME lending and capital formation: Basel III regulatory capital requirements and Know Your Client guidelines, which has severely impacted correspondent banking .

Basel III

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision developed Basel III as a result of the lessons learned after the crash of 2008. The new, more stringent, regulations included changes to capital controls, leverage ratios and liquidity requirements. Compared to Basel II, Basel III requires banks to hold more capital. For SMEs, often twice as much. Basel-compliant countries use the committee’s standards to tailor laws and rules for their specific jurisdictions. For decades, the Basel framework sought to make international banking stronger and better able to withstand exogenous, macro-related shocks. Generally, holding more capital to withstand stress is wise, particularly in the wake of a financial crisis. It is, however, not ideal for SMEs.

Most importantly, or detrimentally, for SMEs, capital adequacy rules assign a risk weighting to each of a bank's assets that is meant to be proportionate to the credit and market risk that the asset in question represents. Under Basel III, loans to SMEs are assigned a relatively high risk rating. As such, banks have to hold more capital against SME loans than against, for example, government securities. In addition, banks struggle to measure the ex-ante riskiness of SMEs, which suffer from higher mortality bankruptcy — rates, lack of credit information and scarce collateral.

Banks exist on leverage. The higher the leverage they can get, the better returns they can generate. As such, the lower the capital requirements for an asset, the more capital they can deploy. This dynamic leads to banks making a choice between two ends of a spectrum: Either holding more capital to sustain the same amount of lending, or keeping the gross amount of capital and reducing risk. Most banks leaned towards reducing risk by cutting loans to riskier assets. SMEs became an easy target: High risk, lots of person-power needed to process loans and, with a higher capital requirement, now a guaranteed lower return.

Pretty simple, right? No? Okay, here's a sample problem.

XYZ Bank in Taxastania has the choice of the following investment options, yielding:

  • Treasuries: 5 percent
  •  Investment Grade Corporates: 10 percent
  •  Unrated SMEs: 15 percent

And assuming that the cost of processing/managing these investments was the same (which it is not), what would be the best investment. Easy, right? The SMEs.

Ah, but here's the rub. Under Basel , each of these instruments has a different capital requirement. Again, somewhat broadly, say they were required to hold the following percentages of capital against each of these investments:

  • Treasuries: 2 percent
  •  Investment Grade Corporates: 5 percent
  •  Unrated SMEs: 10 percent

As such, leverage for each is:

  • Treasuries: 50 times
  •  IG Corporates: 20 times
  •  Unrated SMEs: 10 times

Meaning investment return would be, assuming no defaults and linear payment (two huge assumptions):

  • Treasuries: 50 x 5 percent = 250 percent
  •  IG Corporates: 20 x 8 percent = 160 percent
  •  Unrated SMEs: 10 x 10 percent = 100 percent

So, what looks like a no-brainer, actually, generally, becomes a no-go.

Given their size, SMEs tend to be very dependent on bank credit, as other financing sources, such as wholesale debt or intra-firm funding are not available. As such, Basel III rules disproportionately affect SMEs access to capital.

At the time that the Basel III accords were formulated, contemporary commentators such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants , a prominent global accountancy body, anticipated negative consequences for small and medium-sized businesses, noting that: “... the credit crunch and economic slowdown that followed it have hit smaller enterprises hard. Although Basel III is often described as a recipe for mitigating and perhaps even avoiding future financial crises, its effects on lending to small businesses are generally expected to be disproportionately negative.”

The result of Basel III on SME lending has, indeed, been disproportionately negative. In May 2016, the European Banking Authority released a report trying to analyze the effect of Basel III on SME lending. One conclusion: “SME lending remained below its pre-crisis level.” The United States Treasury recently released a report that reached similar conclusions.

The way Basel III categorizes overdrafts also has bad consequences for SMEs. One of the key ways SMEs meet working capital needs is through bank overdrafts, which occur when money is withdrawn from a bank account and the available balance goes below zero. Under Basel III, banks have to consider overdrafts the same as draws on loan facilities. In other words, they have to hold credit risk capital on overdraft facilities, which are typically considered to be simple short-term liquidity products, instead of loans. Structurally, loans and overdrafts are different and should be treated differently under regulatory capital rules. This all means it’s no longer attractive for banks to offer overdrafts.

Know Your Client and the decline of correspondent banking

Through correspondent banking relationships, banks can access financial services in different jurisdictions and provide cross-border payment services to their customers, supporting international trade and financial inclusion.

Large global banks have traditionally maintained broad networks of correspondent banking relationships, but this situation is changing, rapidly. In particular, some banks providing these services are reducing the number of relationships they maintain and are establishing few new ones. As a result, many correspondent banks, especially in emerging markets, are at risk of being cut off from international payment networks. This implies a threat that cross-border payment networks might fragment, and that the range of available options for these transactions could narrow.

Bank of England Governor and Chairman of the G-20 Financial Stability Board Mark Carney recently highlighted the risk, writing: “So-called ‘de-risking’ in correspondent banking relationships has threatened the ability of some emerging market and developing economies to access the international financial system, and it risks driving flows underground.”

Rising costs and uncertainty about how far customer due diligence should go in order to ensure regulatory compliance and to what extent banks need to know their customers’ customers — the so-called Know Your Client — are cited by banks as among the main reasons for cutting back their correspondent relationships. In fact, “90 percent of bank officers surveyed by the International Chamber of Commerce in 2016 cited the cost or complexity of compliance requirements relating to anti-money laundering, Know Your Client and sanctions as a chief barrier to the provision of trade finance.”

A further 77 percent cited Basel III specifically as a significant impediment to trade finance. To avoid penalties and related reputational damage, internationally active banks have developed an increased sensitivity to the risks associated with this business. This sensitivity has particularly hurt SMEs, which encompassed 58 percent of rejected trade-finance proposals, despite forming only 44 percent of submissions.

As a consequence, they have cut back services for correspondent banks that: (i) Do not generate sufficient volumes to overcome compliance costs; (ii) are located in jurisdictions perceived as too risky, i.e., emerging and frontier markets; (iii) provide payment services to customers about which the necessary information for an adequate risk assessment is not available; or (iv) offer products or services or have customers that pose a higher risk for antimoney laundering/combating the financing of terrorism and are, therefore, more difficult to manage. The Middle East is often cited as being particularly vulnerable to this risk.

For first time participants in the financial sector — oftentimes SMEs that are graduating from the “grey economy,” a large segment in emerging markets — the intrusive nature of the expanded due diligence and regulations can be an insurmountable barrier. Most of these firms will not have ready, or sufficiently-prepared access to all of the financial information, historical data and other sources required by their counterpart at a financial institution. Adding the sometimes overlapping and excessive number of touchpoints to provide and recertifying key data can often lead to slow, tedious and inconsistent relationships between financial institutions and SMEs. This increases the opportunity and actual cost to a given financial institution, which can seemingly justify their reticence to lend to SMEs.

A recent WTO report on Trade Finance and SMEs found that superfluous and not harmonized regulatory requirements were seen as a serious impediment to trade finance.

Billy Evans, managing director of operations for Barclays Africa , summed it up nicely in a recent interview on how antimoney laundering, KYC and other regulations in Basel III have proliferated rapidly, with many inconsistencies or even incongruities, which can dramatically increase the time and expense needed to be compliant. Beyond highlighting the general burden of these regulations, he emphasized how most of this must be completed pre-deal: “You cannot do deals or conduct trade finance, for example, without having these things in place,” he said. “The onerous regulations really do lengthen the time between interest and execution on a loan or form of credit, which can hurt SMEs in particular, given their lower levels of free capital.”

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Crowdsourcing innovations that enhance economic stability. Submit by September 15!

Posted By Phil Psilos, FHI 360, Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Have your organization, investees, or clients created a product, program, or policy that enhances economic stability for poor and vulnerable people?  We'd like to hear about it!

FHI 360 is working with support from The Rockefeller Foundation to surface global innovations that improve economic stability for individuals, communities, local governments and businesses .

The research team is looking for innovations that enhance several dimensions of economic stability: (1) income and asset stability through more consistent employment, wages, and safety nets; (2) specific financial products, skill development approaches, or other means that help people plan for and invest in the future (3) innovations that improve people’s confidence in economic management, regulatory quality, and dispute resolution, or allow them to participate more effectively in shaping these environments in ways that enable better decisions at the household and business levels.  

Top innovations will be featured in an Atlas of Stability Innovation published by FHI 360 in early 2018, in our online media campaigns, and promoted in global media.

Please submit your innovations by September 15, 2017 at at the submission page or visit the project website to learn more. You can also reach us at innovation4stability at gmail dot com          

Tags:  crowdsourcing  emerging markets  Global. Development  inclusive business  inclusive innovation  innovation  Microfinance  social enterprise  social innovation 

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MIF Awards 2018: Applications closing in 1 week!

Posted By Chandrakant Komaragiri, Ennovent, Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Ennovent is supporting Marico Innovation Foundation Awards 2018 – one of the largest platforms for recognizing and showcasing best of Indian Innovation. Helping them to recognize innovations for both ‘for Profit ‘and ‘Not for Profit’ social organizations.
Any organization which is beyond the prototype stage and has contributed to the innovation space in the last 6 years is eligible to apply. The innovation could be the work of one person, a few people, a large team or a department.
You can fill the application using the online form. Here is offline form for your reference. 

Given your presence and connect with enterprises and entrepreneurs, we seek your support in identifying potential participants. 
Could you suggest the awards to the entrepreneurs, and startups in your networks? It would be great if you could refer the organizations from your network and we could follow up with them.

In case you have any queries or issues, please feel free to reach out to us at 

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  inclusive business  India  innovation  larger SMEs  social enterprise  social innovation  sustainability 

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Millennials Seek Shift in Workplace Culture

Posted By Peter Ptashko, Global Social Entrepreneurship Network (GSEN), Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017

Today GSEN: the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network is delighted to launch the next blog in its 'Summer of Talent' series.

Rafael Achondo is founder at 'Matteria' and writes on how to manage a new generation of human capital eager for purpose and culture in the workplace. 

Considering the ambition and volatility of this growing workforce, attracting and retaining the best talent will depend on the ability of management to build teams with shared values and beliefs.

According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 66 percent of professionals between 25 and 35 years old are considering leaving their current jobs before 2020; 13 percent will leave in the next 6 months. A symptom of the disconnect between employers and employees is the perception that a search for work- life balance indicates a lack of interest in the job, or that impatience for advancement comes from arrogance and hubris. There are misunderstandings between managers and millennial workers because the workforce is changing, while the workplace is not.

The LinkedIn Job Switchers Global Report 2015 shows that the number of active job seekers has increased by 36 percent in the last four years, and that 34 percent of these ‘job switchers’ are expected to move not only to a new employer but into different industries and positions altogether. Yes, they want to be elsewhere, doing and learning something different. “Why should I keep working in the banking sector if I can also work in the energy, IT, or retail industries?” “Why should I learn only from finance if my skills allow me to gain knowledge in marketing, logistics or human capital management?”

Managers might wonder: “Why do our employees have this insatiable curiosity, flexibility and ambition?”

The answer is simple: because they can. We are dealing with young professionals who descend from the generation with the greatest purchasing power in history, the offspring of abundance and citizens of an increasingly connected global village, less ideological, modern and tolerant to diversity, and with access to inexhaustible sources of information, every day more democratized. This context empowers them to believe that they can achieve more: 77 percent of young professionals feel partially or absolutely in control of their professional future and 81 percent are willing to travel anywhere in the world in order to find a job to fulfil their expectations, according to 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey.

The main challenge today is to see this labor turnover as a real trend that gives organizations the opportunity to develop management strategies that really add value to human capital and to every person on a team. To use millennials’ ambition and diversity to bolster an organization’s vision and fulfill its purpose of doing business.

What kind of organizations have taken advantage of this ’problem‘? Those who appreciate this new generation and their drive, both individual and collective, those who understand their personal quest for purpose, and even further those who value their aspiration to belong to a culture and a community. Purpose and culture are the current and future keys to managing the most important asset any organization could have: human capital.

Millennials take pride in contributing to something that really matters. Well-educated and with no shortage of opportunities, their ambitions go beyond job security or earning a large salary with benefits. Employment is not only about making enough money to enjoy leisure activities in one’s free time. Another key factor to happiness is personal fulfilment and self-esteem within work. This evolved perspective includes a society where individual behavior has consequences and in which each person contributes to the greater good. Millennials want their employers to be in tune with this world, the world they want to build, regardless of the product, service, or industry in which they operate.

Beyond purpose, millennials also have the human need to communicate and interact with others around a collective welfare goal. Young professionals are inspired more by causes rather than ideologies, by
convictions rather than religious beliefs. Many of these individuals have little confidence in current political establishments and economic systems that breed inequality, which is why they want to be part of organizational cultures that break these paradigms and solve these challenges. They are eager to be a part of work teams with values, behaviors, language, beliefs, and power structures that positively impact their lives and the lives of others. They seek a different, more holistic way of doing business.

The following strategies can help organizations create an environment that will attract and retain young professionals:

  • Generate a vision and culture that Millennials want to see reflected in society
  • Create collaborative environments
  • Encourage leadership that empowers individuals, providing opportunities both for innovation as
    well as failure
  • Manage global, multi-disciplinary teams and innovative projects where employees can contribute
    their talents and fulfil roles that enable them to grow and advance
  • Equip teams to work on common goals towards a better society
  • Measure performance by goals achieved rather than hours in the office

Most importantly, an employer’s invitation to future employees should not only be to fill a position, but to enter an open space where they can learn and become the best version of themselves, both personally and professionally.

What if after all this effort employees still leave the organization? While these strategies should help turnover rates to decrease, human capital management goals should target each professional passing through an organization individually. Investment in the talent of your employees will make a difference in the problems they might solve and the impact they create in the future. Equipping employees to become change makers will benefit society, even if that benefit is created with another organization. When young professionals have been proud to be part of a team, they will take the culture and values to other causes and organizations.

The trends are evident and growing. Society is evolving and with it the aspirations and demands of the new generation of professionals. The organizations that take risks and innovate in this area will attract and retain the best talent. To achieve this we will need leaders who not only understand sustainability\ as a competitive strategy, but who also adapt their management to develop professionals for a new
economy, focused on economic, social and environmental positive impact. Understanding this will allow leaders to become real cultural contributors, as they promote in their employees and teams the same positive values we want to see in society.

About Rafael Achondo

Founder at Matteria. Co-Founder and former CEO at Pegas con Sentido Chile. Former
Executive Director of Development at TECHO (Un Techo para mi País). Co-Founder and former CEO at TECHO U.S.
Twitter: @rafoachondo


Tags:  ANDE Members  social entrepreneurship 

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Social Entrepreneurship is Gambling for People with a Conscience

Posted By Jonathan Lewis, Opportunity Collaboration, Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Social Entrepreneurship is Gambling for People with a Conscience


Posted by Jonathan Lewis, Author, The Unfinished Social Entrepreneur.


Failure is not contagious. You don’t get it from toilet seats. It’s not transmitted by airborne pathogens. You don’t catch it from talking about it.


Nevertheless, in polite conversation among social entrepreneurs, failure – total, complete, abject failure – is taboo territory. It seems to go against human nature to readily acknowledge a mistake, let alone a failure. To twist a line from the poet Oscar Wilde, failure is the social entrepreneurship that dares not speak its name.


Unexamined failure is a social sector scandal, a cover-up as unproductive as failure itself. An un-scrutinized mistake leads to more of the same. Every airplane crash is automatically investigated by a team of taxpayer-financed independent experts. Industry-wide safety improvements ensue as a result, which is why, when I am in an airplane at 35,000 feet, it usually doesn’t fall out of the sky. Professional sports teams debrief after every game. Military maneuvers are unpacked in war colleges. In Silicon Valley, failure is practically a badge of honor; without a few failures under your belt, no one thinks you’re innovating enough.


In contrast, when a social enterprise crashes, we hardly hear about it. Without postmortems, quality improvement in the social sector remains elusive. Deprived of case studies about failure, we’re left with the probability that our social ventures will be the next road kill, and the next, and the next.


We keep our failures hidden to forestall becoming social sector pariahs. Failed organizations don’t get marquee billing at social change conferences. Workshops about failure are ghettoized, not lionized. We know that success compounds (called the cumulative advantage effect); conversely, underdogs (by class, by race, by gender, by physical appearance and – yes – by past performance) suffer a cumulative disadvantage effect. Failure can prefigure our future prospects.


Another reason to conceal our failures is that grantmakers, government decision-makers, board members, the media and everyone else prefer Hollywood endings to life’s uncertain nuances. Good triumphs over evil. Boy gets girl. Social venture solves social problem. It’s thorny to attract donors or impact investors with a story about mistakes, missed cues, fizzles and fiascos. Few funders fund R&D; fewer still will underwrite a flunking project for a second attempt.


Chiefly, change agents dislike discussing failure because it filets open our fears, cutting close to our insecurities. In comparison to everyone else’s boastful press releases and proud Facebook postings, failure makes me feel small and unattractive. Worse, failure makes me feel unworthy of the causes I fight for.


In both the social and non-social business categories, I have architected several prime-time fiascos. Moreover, in the nooks and crannies of my professional accomplishments, I’ve accomplished a thousand failures of character. At times, I failed to make a decision when one was needed. Other times, I acted impulsively, forgetting to pause long enough to consider all the factors indispensable to making a fully-informed judgment. I have failed in friendships and flagged in kindheartedness. Sometimes, I failed to live up to my own principles. Much to my surprise, I’m not perfect.


When I am rejected (by the marketplace, by funders, by whomever, by whatever), my thoughts whirl with questions: What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? Will I be stigmatized as incompetent? Am I worthy of social entrepreneurship? Am I worthy, period?


Whether we’re a CEO-Founder, or one of the vital middle managers, consultants or volunteers working for an NGO or social venture, we each have our own ingredients to add to the collective stew of failure. With all the headlines and hype about social entrepreneurs and scaling innovations, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that winning (or losing) at social change is a team sport. We can all succeed at failure.


Failing sucks. When a project fails, if we care enough (and of course we do), then it’s heartbreaking. As if replaying, over and over again, a failed friendship in my mind, I never quite get over a social venture crash and burn. The wincing memories and recycled self-doubt remind me that I’m human and vulnerable. They also remind me to treasure the heart-filling, awe-inspiring psychic rewards of social justice work.


If you get the choice, I recommend success over failure. Be that as it may, be prepared to make mistakes. Failure is how we live our lives. Things go wrong. It happens in life, in business, in government and, yes, in social justice work too. It behooves us to get good at the art of managing and mitigating failure; in my book (from which this blog is excerpted), I offer a few survival tips: Hug a colleague. Avoid self-delusion. Mess up early and often. Share your failure. Maintain perspective. Hang in there.


Social entrepreneurship is gambling for people with a conscience. Realizing with absolute certitude that I’m going to lose (probably more than once) is liberating. Accepting the prospect of failure means that I can shed paralysis-by-analysis and get started right away, right now, on my social justice work.


The anatomy of social change, and the core of our social entrepreneurship, depend on taking risk after risk for our convictions. Daring to fail is part of our job description.



 Jonathan C. Lewis is a life-long social justice activist and accomplished social entrepreneur. He is the founder of MCE Social Capital and the Opportunity Collaboration, and co-founder of Copia Global. He is a trustee of the Swift Foundation and general partner of Dev Equity

Jonathan may be contacted at his website: His twitter handle is @SoCentClinic.

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