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Working with investors to develop proactive talent strategies

Posted By Rebecca Harrison, African Management Initiative, Thursday, March 21, 2019

Working with investors to develop proactive talent strategies 

Human capital is a key challenge for many SGBs. Getting and keeping the right team in place is critical to propel ventures to scale – yet founding teams often struggle to find the right fit. Many investors in African companies have tolAMI they want to focus more post-investment support on developing talent within their investee companies. But they often aren’t sure how to develop a talent strategy that cuts across their investment portfolio.

AMI hosted a roundtable discussion in Nairobi last month for around 30 early and growth stage investors into East Africa interested in adopting more proactive talent strategies for their portfolio companies. We shared 3 models we’ve seen used to provide post-investment human capital support, and hosted a candid discussion around what is and isn’t working.

AMI identified the following three broad buckets for ways to engage around talent at a portfolio company level. We heard from various investors, who shared how they are using different approaches to help their investee companies build out the teams they need to scale.

Three models:

Facilitative model   This could also be described as the ‘matchmaking’ model. The facilitative model is used when investors help companies understand their talent needs, identify and introduce them to quality providers, and then show them how to engage. The investor’s role here is primarily diagnostic and facilitative, and aims to support needs that are specific to each founding teams/organisation. Some investors are using TA funds to finance these interventions.

Examples: For AHL Ventures, talent is one of the main post-investment challenges that companies across their portfolio face. They often work with their companies on creating a talent plan or helping them directly acquire talent. They also refer investee companies to talent providers, where appropriate, using experience on what has worked with other portfolio companies to inform recommendations. For example, AMI has worked with AHL to train employees in several of their investee companies, including MKOPAPowerGenEthioChicken and Equity for Tanzania.

A different approach within the facilitative model was shared by CDC Groupwhich is developing an online directory for investee companies providing information on different human capital services available, including services specific to talent development – training, recruiting etc. CDC aims to make this directory available more broadly with the goal of also building the broader ecosystem (see supply-side model below).

Direct model The direct model differs from the facilitative model, as it works to identify a very clear need across the investor’s portfolio, instead of working on a case-by-case basis. This model is focused on solving a specific challenge, for example developing middle managers, hiring CFOs or working on enterprise sales. The goal is to offer a structured programme or intervention that cuts across the entire portfolio. This approach is becoming increasingly popular as investors deepen their understanding around critical talent challenges, and is often funded by a blend of investor/TA subsidy and direct payment by the company.

Examples: Acumen identified a need across its portfolio to strengthen middle management skills and build leadership bench strength below the executive team. They first partnered with AMI 3 years ago to develop cross-portfolio programmes for both middle and senior managers and now run at least one programme annually. Interestingly, Acumen started by subsidising the programmes significantly, but has gradually phased this out. Companies now pay directly, and many have worked this into their annual planning and budgeting processes.

Shell Foundation took a similarly direct approach, offering AMI management programmes to companies across its portfolio on a cost share basis, after identifying management skills as a cross-cutting need. In this case, Shell Foundation allowed companies to engage AMI on their own terms, but provided the cost-share to make this possible. More than 100 have continued to work with AMI on a fully commercial basis, demonstrating that investors can often play a catalytic role in demonstrating the value of human capital services to companies.

Finally, Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) hosts a pan-African entrepreneurship club for its portfolio companies, where portfolio companies are invited to exchange ideas and debate on various issues including recruitment and retention. I&P also hosts seminars on specific topics of interest to entrepreneurs.

Supply-side support A small and growing group of investors are working to strengthen the ecosystem of human capital providers itself, either through grants and investments into supply-side players, or through experimentation with innovative sector-building models.

Examples: Shell Foundation is working with Argidius Foundation and Bluehaven to develop a Talent Facility to encourage and enable early-stage enterprises to invest in talent even when cash is constrained. Bluehaven, AHL and I&P have all invested directly into human capital providers such as AMI and Shortlist. And both Bluehaven and Argidius Foundation have provided grants to build the talent ecosystem more broadly.

Top learnings from investors:

Each of the 30 investors in attendance have several years of experience working in the impact investment sector in East Africa and globally, and shared openly about what they’ve learned around human capital. Here are a few high-level learnings

    • Investors can and should influence, and even incentivise, founding teams to focus on talent. Investors noted that founders themselves needed to be bought into human capital as a strategic priority. Investors can make their expectations clear in this regard, both before investment during diue diligence and after investment, at a board level.
    • Human capital is a core strategic priority not a ‘nice to have’ – is it on the agenda at board meetings? Many companies and investors agree that talent is important, but then spend their board meetings talking about fund-raising and sales targets. Investors who sit on boards can push talent issues up the agenda by asking the right questions around talent strategy.
    • Proactive talent strategy is more effective than reactive crisis management: Investors have seen talent challenges emerge when companies grow very quickly. Investors can encourage companies to get the right human capital systems and structures in place ahead of (or at least at the beginning) of a period of aggressive growth, and can share lessons learned from other portfolio companies.
    • Investors have seen key needs cut across portfolio companies. Some key themes emerged from the discussion – for the example the need to develop middle management, the shortage of strong CFO candidates and challenges with enterprise sales. However investors working at different stages of the investment cycle noted that different approaches are required for early-stage businesses versus more mature companies. Investors can benefit from sharing notes with others investing at a similar stage.
    • Due diligence should include a structured focus on management capacity & learning mindset. Many investors are being more intentional and structured about probing the management capacity of founding teams and their broader leadership. Some noted the importance of ensuring that entrepreneurs themselves have a learning mindset, and so are likely to build a learning culture across the organisation.
    • Start with simple interventions that work – A quick and easy way to start leveraging your experience as an investor to drive talent development is to introduce functional heads from within your own portfolio to each other. For example, introducing the head of marketing from two of your investee companies to each other is extremely beneficial for growth, learning and innovation.

We’d love to hear from any investors who have tried approaches not listed here. What’s worked for you? What are you still trying to figure out? Can we help?

AMI delivers a practical and scalable approach to workplace learning using a blended methodology that combines online courses with in-person workshops and practical hands-on application. AMI has rolled out 70 programmes across 13 African countries and directly trained over 26,000 people, including hundreds working at investor-backed growth companies. In 2019, AMI was named one of the Companies to Inspire Africa by the London Stock Exchange Group.

Tags:  Africa  capacity development  east africa  emerging markets  Human Capital  impact investing  impact investment  investors  smes  social enterprise  social impact  talent  Training & Events 

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Announcing the Third Call for Applications for the CHMI Learning Exchange!

Posted By Allison Ettenger, Results for Development Institute, Wednesday, October 12, 2016

applICATIONS OPEN FOR the CHMI Learning Exchange

 

The Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI), in partnership with Solina Health, is thrilled to announce its third Call for Applications for the CHMI Learning Exchange! Applications are due by November 13th.

Download the application here

Recognizing the excellence and innovation within our global network, the CHMI Learning Exchange aims to facilitate structured learning partnerships between organizations that are profiled on CHMI, helping programs to improve business practices, adopt innovations, or scale-up or replicate an aspect of their model to a new market. Learning Exchanges help connect health program managers to their peers for a focused opportunity that can help organizations strengthen their health businesses, and expand access to improved quality care.

The CHMI Learning Exchange will provide funding of up to US $8,000 to successful applicants to facilitate learning partnerships. Programs that apply for participation in the Learning Exchange may also be considered for participation in a Learning Collaborative - an additional in-person opportunity to work with your learning exchange partner and other programs in our network that share similar programmatic challenges[1].  To be eligible for this opportunity, at least one program must be based in West Africa[2], and both programs must be based in Sub-Saharan Africa

CHMI has seen firsthand that peer learning activities can be a valuable tool to support programs on their path to scale, ultimately reaching more people with quality, affordable care. In April 2015, CHMI awarded its second round of learning exchange grants to five winning applications. Representing ten organizations and six countries, these new partnerships allowed program managers to improve and scale-up their models; past grantee activities range from replicating supply models, improving management and operational processes, building financial sustainability, and adapting new client safety systems.

A Learning Exchange Focused on Sub-Saharan Africa


Following the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, the global community refocused its attention on the fragmented health systems in West Africa. While many activities are implemented in West Africa with government support, there is a limited presence of peer learning opportunities in the region for private providers.  Allowing innovators from across the continent to connect with West African programs helps CHMI to share tacit knowledge, understand country contexts and regional trends, and promote South-to-South learning partnerships.

Is this opportunity right for me?

-Are you a healthcare manager running a program in Sub-Saharan Africa, aspiring to scale up your program or enter new markets?

-Are you struggling with a central question around your business model, one that other program managers may have insight into?

-Could you benefit from traveling or engaging virtually to learn from a similar healthcare program, either in your country or internationally?


If you answered yes to any of the above, the CHMI Learning Exchange may be a good opportunity for you!

What is a Learning Exchange?

A Learning Exchange is an engagement between two or more organizations to share knowledge around a particular need or business practice. Partners may be based in the same geography or in different countries.

Because peer-to-peer exchanges are customized to address an organization’s particular and current need, they can be limited to the scope necessary to catalyze institutional change. 

How does a Learning Exchange work?


Learning Exchanges will involve one or more healthcare organizations acting as lead partners and knowledge partners. One of these partners must be based in West Africa, and both programs need to be based in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lead partner: A “lead partner” is a healthcare organization profiled by CHMI that will develop the application for the CHMI Learning Exchange and be responsible for disbursing funds to other partnering organizations. The “lead” partner can be the “learner” in a traditional “mentor-mentee” relationship; or, the lead partner and knowledge partners can represent similar organizations that may offer complementary skills, expertise, and ability to learn from one another. Lead partners should contact potential knowledge partners through CHMI or through other channels to solicit their agreement to apply for the CHMI Learning Exchange. Please contact chmi@r4d.org if you require assistance in contacting programs through our website.Knowledge partner: One or more healthcare organization(s) that work with a lead partner to exchange knowledge through activities specified in this application. Knowledge partner(s) should agree to participate with a lead partner prior to being named in an application for the CHMI Learning Exchange.

 
Both partners should discuss the scope of the learning agenda, the way in which learning will take place, and its intended impact.

The lead partner will submit an application to the CHMI Learning Exchange. The lead partner will assume responsibility for meeting outcomes, submitting reports, and determining whether and how funds are shared between partners. The knowledge partner will provide their organization’s commitment signature on the Lead partner’s application.


A cohort of organizations will carry out their unique Learning Exchanges over a six-month period, from December 2016 through May 2017. At the conclusion of the Learning Exchange, partners will reflect on what worked and what didn’t work, and share their experiences to benefit the broader CHMI community. 

 
Learn more and apply by November 13th. Please contact us at chmilearningexchange@r4d.org if you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you! 

Apply today

Tags:  Base of the Pyramid  business training  Health  Private Sector  social enterprise  social entrepreneurship  Training & Events  West Africa 

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New report - 'Training Talent: Best practice in workplace learning & management development in Africa'

Posted By Rebecca Harrison, African Management Initiative, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Effective managers and entrepreneurs hold the key to Africa’s prosperity. Yet organisations cite a talent gap, and traditional training models seem to be broken. Africa needs a fresh approach to help millions of managers, entrepreneurs and professionals build the skills needed to drive their organisations – and the continent - forward.  

This new report by the African Management Initiative (AMI) draws on fresh data on Africa’s critical talent gap and presents new insights on how to address it through workplace learning and development. We list eight key findings about what is needed, and about what effective workplace learning looks like in an African context, with a particular focus on SGBs. 

This report is a must-read for senior leaders in African organisations who want to address the talent gap in their own organisations. It is also invaluable for impact investors ad intermediaries who want to build talent in portfolio companies, donors interested in workforce development, banks and investors looking to strengthen small business clients, university leaders that want to equip graduates for jobs and anyone with an interest in developing Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs, managers and professionals. 

Our findings include insights on where demand for training is most urgent - what kinds of organisations most need to prioritise talent development, and what level in the organisation is most vulnerable? We look at what kind of skills are needed most – the results are sometimes surprising. 

We also look at what works, drawing on international best practice and our own experience developing talent in African organisations. We argue that to translate training into improved performance, organisations must look beyond individual skill-building to the embedding of organisational habits. We push beyond traditional training approaches such as courses and workshops to explore experiential learning, on-the-job feedback and accountability. We look at how technology can enable sophisticated personalised learning at vastly reduced cost. Finally we present our own preferred ‘blended learning’ solution and share data that illustrates how effective workplace learning programmes can deliver real results.

Download the full report here. Get in touch with Rebecca Harrison at rebecca@africanmanagers.org for more information about AMI or the report, and look our for us at the ANDE annual conference!

 

Tags:  east africa  South Africa  talent  Training & Events  West Africa 

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Join us: Unlikely Allies, July 5-6, Seattle

Posted By Elisabeth Cramer, Impact Hub, Thursday, June 9, 2016

Calling all urban innovators! Register now for Unlikely Allies: Future of Cities Festival in Seattle, Washington, USA, July 5-6, 2016.

Unlikely Allies is an annual two-day festival that takes place in a new city each year. We are expecting over 500 attendees from 80+ global cities, from across the US and from the greater Seattle community to gather for this event which will showcase the latest thinking, technology, best practices, innovations and ideas around the Future of Cities.

The international festival is hosted by the global Impact Hub network, and will include speakers such as Majora Carter of MGC Consulting LLC / Startup Box, Carol Coletta of the Kresge Foundation, and other thought leaders from organizations such as Change.org, MercyCorps, Microsoft, Nesta, the RSA, Techsoup, and WWF.

See this year's program and read more about the festival here!

Tags:  ANDE Members  entrepreneurship ecosystems  Impact Hub  innovation  sustainability  Training & Events 

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Two Upcoming Webinars on Careers in Social Enterprise

Posted By Kimberly Hendler, Impact Business Leaders, Thursday, November 19, 2015

Join Impact Business Leaders for a special careers webinar:

How to Align Your Career with Your Values: Social Enterprise and Impact Investing

featuring David Kyle, Executive Director and Founder of Impact Business Leaders

November 24, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. EST -  RSVP: http://bit.ly/1iFf3fJ

December 9, 2015 at 12 p.m. EST - RSVP: http://bit.ly/1SCUrRq


Interested in shifting into a career with greater meaning and impact? Wondering if it is possible to leverage your professional experience in a field more aligned with your values?

On these webinars, David Kyle, will explain the fields of impact investing and social enterprise, including examples of values-aligned companies he has worked with around the world. Through sharing his own career path and lessons learned in developing and scaling social enterprises and impact investing institutions, David will inspire you with ways you can get involved in the exciting and quickly growing field of social enterprise and impact investing.


About David:

Prior to starting Impact Business Leaders in the Fall of 2013, David had spent the previous two years as COO of the Bethesda-based Calvert Foundation. Prior to this role David lived in Hyderabad, India for three years where he was the Founder and CEO of the Indian School Finance Company, a for-profit finance company that provides medium term debt capital to private schools serving very low-income families. The still thriving ISFC was one of a string of start-ups David has led over the past 20 years, starting with building a Citibank subsidiary into a full service commercial bank in Lisbon, Portugal from 1990-96; building Citibank’s first global intranet system in the late-1990s from London; establishing a new country organization for Save the Children in Brazil upon leaving Citibank in 2001; and, as COO and Chief Investment Officer, building operations for Acumen Fund in East Africa, India, Pakistan and New York from 2003-07. Prior to  his career in social enterprise, David spent 20 years in the corporate and investment bank of Citibank working successively in Brazil, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Portugal and the UK. David went to Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and has an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University.

About the host:

Impact Business leaders (IBL) is your guide to building an exciting career in social enterprise and impact investing. The program includes a practitioner-led, 7-day workshop on social enterprise, a matching process to currently open job opportunities in social enterprises and impact investors, and personalized career counseling. Get connected to career-advancing, full-time roles at organizations that are tackling pressing global challenges at IBL@Darden 2016 at the University of Virginia from January 3-9, 2016. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until the cohort is filled - so we encourage you to apply asap.

PS - If you cannot make it but are interested hearing more about IBL’s upcoming program, IBL@Darden in the USA, please email Kim Hendler directly at khendler@impactbusinessleaders.com.



Tags:  capacity development  impact investing  Jobs  presentation  Social Entrepreneurship  talent  Training & Events 

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Join IBL for 11/13 Webinar: How to Align Your Career with Your Values

Posted By Kimberly Hendler, Impact Business Leaders, Friday, October 30, 2015

Join Impact Business Leaders for a special careers webinar:

How to Align Your Career with Your Values: Social Enterprise and Impact Investing

featuring Ross Baird, Executive Director and Founder of Village Capital

November 13, 2015

12:00 p.m. EST

Registration: http://bit.ly/1WgsO1o


Interested in shifting into a career with greater meaning and impact? Wondering if it is possible to leverage your professional experience in a field more aligned with your values? On this webinar, Ross Baird of Village Capital will explain the fields of impact investing and social enterprise, including examples of values-aligned companies he has worked with around the world. Through sharing his own career path and lessons learned in developing and scaling Village Capital, Ross will inspire you with ways you can get involved in the exciting and quickly growing field of social enterprise and impact investing.


About the presenter:

Ross Baird is the Founder and Executive Director of Village Capital is a seed-stage venture firm that has invested in 33 ventures over the past four years in seven countries solving social and environmental problems. Before launching Village Capital, he worked with First Light Ventures, a seed fund focused on impact investments. Prior to First Light, Ross worked on the development of four education-related start-up ventures: the Indian School Finance Company in Hyderabad, India; the National College Advising Corps in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and two ventures using technology to promote civic participation. He has a MPhil from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a BA from the University of Virginia, where he was a Truman Scholar and a Jefferson Scholar. Ross serves as an instructor and a Board Member for Impact Business Leaders.


About the host:

Impact Business leaders (IBL) is your guide to building an exciting career in social enterprise and impact investing. The program includes a practitioner-led, 7-day workshop on social enterprise, a matching process to currently open job opportunities in social enterprises and impact investors, and personalized career counseling. Get connected to career-advancing, full-time roles at organizations that are tackling pressing global challenges at IBL@Darden 2016 at the University of Virginia from January 3-9, 2016. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until the cohort is filled - so we encourage interested professionals to apply asap.


RSVP for the webinar at http://bit.ly/1WgsO1o

PS - If you cannot make it but are interested hearing more about IBL’s upcoming program, IBL@Darden in the USA, please email Kim Hendler directly at khendler@impactbusinessleaders.com.


Tags:  impact investing  Jobs  leadership  presentation  program  Social Entrepreneurship  talent  Training & Events 

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Michael Goldberg on Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Beyond Silicon Valley

Posted By Kim Bettcher, Center for International Private Enterprise, Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Join the Center for International Private Enterprise at

1211 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 700

 Michael Goldberg on Building Entrepreneurial
Ecosystems Beyond Silicon Valley

April 10, 2015

3.00 PM-4.30 PM

 

MichaelGoldberg - Visiting Assistant Professor, Design & InnovationMichael Goldberg will lead a discussion on how entrepreneurs engage with the resources around them, and the ways in which governments, business leaders, and donors seek to improve the environment for new business ventures. As an active mentor in the entrepreneurship community in Cleveland and experienced instructor on the subject, Goldberg will discuss entrepreneurship in both a domestic and international context. He will provide examples of entrepreneurship successes from selected markets around the world including Greece, Vietnam, Tunisia, Argentina, Rwanda, and China. Goldberg will also draw from his experiences as a mentor to entrepreneurs in Cleveland through Jumpstart, FlashStarts, and LaunchHouse.

 

Goldberg is an experienced venture capitalist and international business leader whose teaching is focused on the fields of entrepreneurship and early stage finance. He is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Design and Innovation at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. Goldberg’s massive open online course (MOOC) called “Beyond Silicon Valley: Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies,” has attracted over 44,000 students from 190 countries and has been translated into 10 languages. Goldberg also co-founded the Bridge Investment Fund, a venture capital fund focused on investing in Israeli medical device companies that have synergies with the leading health care industries and institutions in Cleveland.

Please reply to rsvp@cipe.org

 

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Tags:  entrepreneurship ecosystems  Training & Events  Washington 

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