FIP 100: What I’ve learnt building my social enterprise after 100 episodes, interview by Andrew Foote of Sanivation

This is an interview to mark the 100th episode. Andrew Foote is the host. He’s the co-founder of Sanivation – a social enterprise in Kenya that takes human waste from cities and converts it into fuel. Andrew is interviewing Andy Narracott, founder of Finding Impact.

On this episode you’ll learn:

  • It’s important to stop and celebrate in any social enterprise, to mark milestones and recognise how far you’ve traveled on your journey. It’s good for your mental health, and it’s good for building a positive culture in your team.
  • Finding Impact is process driven. Andy created a process to uncover insights for social entrepreneurs through interviews. Then improved that process via feedback (from listeners and himself), and once all the kinks were ironed out, he trained other people to follow the process. Andy claims this to be the most basic form of creating an enterprise.
  • Andy recognises the incredible help he’s received from volunteers, and the power of creating win-win partnerships. Andy offers new skills training and an opportunity to learn and build experience, and in return he gets help with the creating content procedures.
  • People naturally want to share their knowledge. The goal of the podcast is the make that as easy as possible – to remove friction to knowledge sharing.
  • Andy shares a couple of books that taught him the importance of a repeatable process for continuous improvement. The first is Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed, then Work the System by Sam Carpenter, and The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. All are instructive on procedures, experimentation and feedback.
  • On how to determine what procedures are important, it depends on what the goal is, and this will probably change over time. For Andy, the goal of the first episode was to record a half-decent interview, develop the basic process of getting it onto the web and hoping a few people listen and share feedback. Nowadays, his goal is to create content that is relevant and has some urgency in need, and he’s moving onto measuring impact in the traditional sense, with a a theory of change and an M&E plan.
  • On what he’s learnt about himself, Andy says he needs structure and process in his life, as the alternative seems to be chaos and continuous reinventing the wheel. This dovetails into his interest in efficiency.
  • Journalling can help us monitor ourselves so we get better at understanding our strengths and weaknesses, and help us be the best version of ourselves.
  • Andy plans his week on a Sunday night using Google Calendar. He sees what phone calls and meetings have been scheduled, what pieces of work he has to do, and then puts chunks of work into this calendar, so when he starts his day, he doesn’t waste time by thinking about what he has to do. He also puts in family time and exercise time.
    Streaks is a google chrome add on that sits within Gmail, which Andy uses to track projects, processes and initiatives.
  • Andy’s vision for Finding Impact is to continue providing content for social entrepreneurs in emerging markets, as he believes they’re pushing the boundaries of creating systemic change in these markets. Meanwhile, he wants to scale knowledge sharing to build local podcasts for local markets.

Links to resources:

Connect with Andrew Foote

Connect with Andy Narracott

FIP 99: How local founders can attract foreign impact capital, with Andreas Zeller

This episode shines a light on why local founders, who have excellent businesses, struggle to attract foreign impact capital. Open Capital Advisors has been advising in Africa for 9 years now, helping entrepreneurs grow, and helping advance economies, whilst also helping build a generation of business leaders in Africa. Based in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia, covering 20 countries in Africa and have worked on 450 engagements to date.

On this episode you’ll learn:

  • Village Capital studied the amount of impact investment money going to local founders, which showed less going to local founders. Some of the reasons is the lack of understanding by local founders about what is needed to raise capital, not being active in the networks that foreign investors are active, and knowing how to communicate effectively. Alot of OCA’s work goes towards bridging this gap.
  • Many impact investors from North America or Europe don’t have local offices and are not familiar with cultural norms or business practices in country. When they do, local staff are not part of the decision making process, so when they take deals to their investment committee, made up of members who are not familiar with the context, they’re often rejected.
  • Founders need to get good at how they describe themselves to foreign funders, how they articulate their value prop, how much info they need to share.
  • Another challenge is that local founders might expect to build a relationship over several interactions, whereas foreign impact investors might expect to develop a relationship over one meeting, because their time is limited in country.
  • Local founders might not have international brand names on their CVs like international founders. They may still have very good CVs with experience at reputable local companies or universities, but are not known about by international investors.
  • The due diligence process can be more effective by helping local founders understand what is necessary, what information needs to be shared and when.
  • Local events can be organised to allow for more touch points between local founders and investors.
  • One of the biggest frustrations of all the local founders that OCA works with is for an investor to quickly say No, if its a No, instead of wasting their time for 3-6 months on a lengthy process process.
  • A greater understanding of the language used by investors would help the whole process. But investors should not expect Founders to be finance specialists to enter into these conversations.
  • A primary reason why investors might give a No to local founders is lack of documentation and record-keeping. Also, a simple inability to communicate with local founders effectively. Also lack of trust, that local founders might not be willing to give a share of their business to international investors.
  • Local founders should also be clear about what they mean by impact, including how it will be measured – which is much harder than financial indicators.
  • Local founders should do their due diligence on investors, who you really trust, who believes in you and your company, and what they fund.
  • Funders who fund broadly, either early stage or later stage, who’re open to any stage of business, often, in fact, do have a sweet spot.
  • Getting support can help local founders, be it a mentor, an accelerator, or a business support provider, who are plugged into the investor community.
  • Andreas has seen a shortage of qualified Chief Financial Officer type human capital, who are people who can run analyses, help businesses make decisions, or form strategies. They created Arcadia to fill this gap.

Links to resources:

Connect with guest

FIP 98: Lessons From Bedriye Hulya Who Was Able to Prevent a Burnout

This week on the Finding Impact Podcast, we are talking about burnout in the social sector, the third in our interview series, and we talk about Bedriye Hulya’s own experience, and how it took a very unique project that aims to promote the inner wellbeing for changemakers to help her get unstuck and make drastic changes in her life. Bedriye is founder of b-fit, which is a chain of women-only sport and health centers in Turkey, and uses a unique franchising model which empowers women.

On this podcast, you will learn:

  • More about her b-fit model.
  • Profit versus social good: how Bedriye maintained the thin line / keeping the balance between focusing on maintaining a profit so you’re sustainable, but also keeping in mind that the social good is more important than the profit.
  • When Bedriye started to feel symptoms of burnout:
    • She felt trapped, started getting angry at people, started to resent the company and her work, and started to feel an injustice of trying to do social good, but not feeling good herself.
  • About her experience with the Wellbeing Project, an intensive 18-month program for creating and supporting a culture of inner wellbeing for changemakers.
    • Bedriye particularly benefited from Gestalt Practice which made her realize she lost touch with herself and her feelings by burying things that she should have lived through.
  • How Bedriye loved founding the company but hated management and felt like she was forcing herself to fit into the role.
  • Her advice to other social entrepreneurs stuck in the hamster wheel: take a sabbatical (if possible), do inner work (ie. Gestalt Practice, going to therapy, etc.) – anything looking into yourself to understand what processes are manifesting in your altered behaviors or thoughts or feelings. Afterwards you will learn your strengths and weaknesses and I recommend that people do their inner work.

Links to Resources:

Connect with Bedriye:

  • E-mail: BedriyeHulya@b-fit.com.tr

FIP 97: The Dangers of Being a Corporate Insurgent with Gib Bulloch

This week on the Finding Impact Podcast, we are talking about burnout, corporate insurgency and a mental hospital. This is the second in the series of podcasts that we are covering on burnout and mental stress in the social sector. We are talking with Gib Bulloch about his personal experience of what he calls the ‘event’ when he suffered from a burnout that put him in a mental hospital for 5 days and became the setting of his new book “The Intrapreneur: Confessions of a Corporate Insurgent”. The book is an engrossing read on Gib’s personal journey of burnout, and how he’s turned it into an opportunity for others, to spark a new breed of social activists working within, or about to join, or completely disillusioned by today’s business world.  Gib Bulloch is also the founder of Accenture Development Partnerships, a non-profit arm of Accenture, for building cross-sector partnerships between businesses and NGOs.

On this podcast, you will learn:

  • How Gib first discovered the true meaning of working for ‘purpose’, when he was volunteering with the VSO International in the Balkans after the Kosovo crisis. VSO partners with businesses to attracts mid-level corporate professionals and offers them volunteering opportunities.
  • How this experience led to Gib conceiving and founding the Accenture Development Partners (ADP) in 2001, as a social enterprise within Accenture. ADP was conceived on the idea of bringing business and technology expertise to parts of the world where it is greatly needed but has least access to it, and its business model depended on the three-way contribution between people, ADP and the charitable organization clients.
  • The ‘event’, which became the inspiration of his new book and he quotes – “Looking back, the retreat in India couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’d signed up for an event organised by a group called Leaders’ Quest that would see me spend four days in the Rajasthan desert. The retreat offered a mix of activities – discussions in small focus groups about the state of the world, visits to impoverished villages, talks by inspiring NGO leaders – even yoga and meditation classes. I’d gone to get myself out of the rut, out of the comfort zone – to find new inspiration to break the internal impasse I’d been facing. I got more than I bargained for.”
  • Why social entrepreneurs are more prone to stress and isolation when compared with business entrepreneurs. The jobs of people working towards a social mission are never ever done fully and it’s very difficult to dis-engage like in a regular day-job. This leads to an incredibly high burnout rate in the sector. The Wellbeing Project (an initiative of Ashoka, Skoll and Schwab) recognizes this endemic problem in social entrepreneurship and works towards catalysing a culture of inner wellbeing for social entrepreneurs and changemakers
  • How there is a fundamental challenge at the heart of business today – as the capitalist economic system with its single-minded focus on profit is creating tremendous amounts of corporate workforce dis-engagement and high levels of burnouts. Traditional corporate responses (yoga rooms, gym memberships, etc.) are mere tinkerings, whereas what is needed is a fundamental re-thinking and re-imagination of workforce burnouts.
  • How organizations such as Thrive Global, established by Arianna Huffington, are working toward raising awareness of the hidden costs of workforce burnouts to business and economy
  • The need to imagine another paradigm around people’s relationship with money as most people are trapped in the hamster wheel where they feel the compelling need to have more and more money. Gib talks Peter Kuneig’s ‘moneywork’ and his book that exposes misleading flaws and lies in many universally accepted and unquestioned assumptions about money
  • Finally, Gib shares that he saw in his manic vulnerability a source of strength which led him to write and try and break the taboo around mental health in business.

Links to Resources:

Connect with Gib:

FIP 96: How to manage the isolation and mental stress as a social enterprise founder with Ilaina Rabbat

Today, we speak with Ilaina Rabbat (co-founder of Amani Institute) on burnout in social entrepreneurs–why it happens, what can be done to protect yourself from it, signs it’s happening, safety measure to put in place–which is so critically important when you’re doing this sort of work. She recently published a thesis on how to thrive in the social sector.

On this episode you’ll learn:

  • Ilaina focuses on thriving rather than surviving/burnout, although burnout is not usually a word used by social entrepreneurs since it’s almost seen as a bad word; saying that you’re burnt out wasn’t part of the dialogue originally.
  • She gives an example of experiencing burnout herself, opening up an Ashoka office in El Salvador, a new country for her with no support network.
  • Inside Armani institute, a main topic included in their curriculum, “inner journey of a changemaker,” is to help intrapreneurs understand who they are, what they want, and how to sustain themselves since normal university curriculum never talks about this, and it was their most popular curriculum topic.
  • Sacrifice, and touching upon Daniela Papi-Thornton’s thesis on tackling heropreneurship.
  • Signs that Ilaina felt when she first started to get burnout:
    • When you feel like you don’t want to keep doing what you’re doing (e.g. intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation),
    • Your body (ie. headaches, back pain, fatigue, etc.), and concerns from loved ones.
  • Binary trap that entrepreneurs get into a lot, like should I run my social venture or should I spend time with my family, e.g. A or B rather than A and B. It’s a mental trap that entrepreneurs get into a lot.
  • Social entrepreneurs cannot do everything so they should narrow down their responsibility and their impact to make it limited, tangible, and achievable; otherwise you will burn out.
  • Ilaina discusses five out of ten variables (or common themes) across groups of social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs:
    • Sacrifice (want to versus have to),
    • Work centrality (ability to not think in a binary way),
    • Responsibility (everyone thinks they are responsible to make this world a better place),
    • Privilege (either in a grateful way or guilty way), and
    • Empathy (remaining centered and avoiding compassion fatigue).
  • Actionable things to do in order to move from surviving to thriving:
    • Self awareness (feel more connected to yourself) and meditation helps with this, and in slowing down burnout.
    • Relationships (spending time with people that love you; but quality over quantity).
    • Intrinsic motivation (remember why you’re doing what you do).
  • Who is high risk to burnout? Social entrepreneurs in the middle of their career. When you first start, you still have a lot of passion and energy. The same for those who have been working for 15 to 20 years because of the wisdom they have gained. But the people in between, like the first 5 to 10 years in a social venture, the passion and excitement is starting to go out, and the wisdom gained later isn’t there yet.

Links to Resources:

10 variables chart

Connect with Ilaina:

FIP 95: The ingredients of an effective government partnership with Ruth Ngechu of Living Goods

This interview will help you put yourself into the shoes of government so you can work with them effectively. Ruth Ngechu is the Deputy Country Director in charge of partnership with Living Goods in Kenya. Ruth shares her strategies and tactics she’s developed over the course of her 17+ year career working in Public Health, which includes some time within the Ministry of Health

On this episode, you’ll learn:

  • A different engagement strategy is needed in every county or district you work in, because each one has their own policies and priorities. They’re like separate governments. Ruth’s role is to understand policy frameworks to make sure Living Goods approach is aligned in each county.
  • When Ruth was in government, and NGOs would make requests for collaboration, Ruth would look for support to help them execute some of the initiatives they had going on, since government budgets were quite thin.
  • Governments have their own priorities and agendas. When you approach government you have to align your approach with them. So first thing to do is to find out their needs and priorities. Because government only supports the things that they think are contributing to their priorities.
  • A bad example of an organisation approaching government is when they come with a ready made plan that does not align with the needs of the government.
  • Living Goods’ model has evolved. A key reason for this is the changing priorities and capacity of government.
  • Living Goods’ tailor their program to the needs of the government. For example, in one county, the government is paying a good stipend to their community health workers, so Living Goods provides other support.
  • Champions are needed to support an effective partnership with government. Ruth stresses the need for champions within technical departments but also from elected leaders. If you don’t build several good relationships, your programme could be seen as a political initiative and your support stops when the elected leadership changes.
  • Investing in time is also important. You can’t try to go faster than government – this is a recipe for disaster. So invest time into building the relationship.
  • Also take stock of the government level of preparedness (i.e. their capacity or level of skills and experience) to ensure it is adequate to engage. So this needs to be understood: what their priorities are, what infrastructure is in place, and the capacity of the infrastructure (like HR support).
  • Ruth recommends we need to listen more and let government move at their pace. Invest time in co-creating projects that address the needs of government.
  • NGOs and social enterprises sometimes see each other as competitors, competing for the same resources and attention of government. They need to speak and work out ways of collaborating, to support government in the best possible way, by leveraging each others strengths, and work together.
  • Ruth urges all NGOs and social enterprises to support systems strengthening, so for example, helping government to establish policy frameworks. This is essential for sustainability as well, since without these strong systems in place, the work of the NGO or social enterprise can easily be undone when leaders change.

Links to resources

Connect with Ruth

FIP 94: Scaling Partnerships with Government, Shannon May of Bridge International Academies

Today we speak with Shannon May about scaling partnerships with government, in order to help you understand if this is the right option for your social enterprise, ie. doing the outsource model of government partnerships, which Erin Worsham in the last episode (FIP 93) introduced us to. Shannon is Chief Strategy & Development Officer and Co-Founder of Bridge International Academies. They provide a range of at-scale services for teachers, students, schools, and governments, and have reached over half a million people now. We are going to talk about some of the different partnerships they have with governments, particularly Nigeria and Liberia.

On this episode you will learn:

  • About the Education World Forum, a large conference hosted by DFID and the British Council, which is a critically important place once you start trying to work and support governments, reform, and problem solving for them.
    • There are more than 100 ministers participating in the event.
    • It is important to think what are probably the 2 to 3 places/conferences you should be a year where the actual people you’re trying to serve, and the actual decision makers are going to be present, and having conversations about what works and what doesn’t. (But you do need to pick carefully since not all conferences are created equal.)
  • Since no one government is facing the exact same problem, Bridge International Academies deals with a lot of specificity and their intervention design is very much tailored to what the government asks for and where they think they are best suited.
  • To do careful mapping across all countries in which you already work or think have a need for your programming, and do some in-depth work on the politics of those places.
    • Understand who are the champions, who are the reformers, who are the people who are willing to take risks and make bold decisions.
    • Take a look at their ministry of finance–have they already done any procurement, any sort of public private partnership where they have procured private services to support a public need?
    • Do a full mapping and then it’s highly likely that one or two places come to the top of your list, and then it’s about finding a political champion.
  • It’s really important that there is an elected leader who wants to make change for their population, and sees the importance of providing services to the public and feels that need for responsive (often comes through being elected). Shannon gives an example of their Liberia partnership.
  • To understand your cost and what is within the realm of possibilities within a government budget.
  • It is possible to get public institutions providing public services on the road to better services and better quality outcomes earlier by this blend of different finance sources.
  • What are the one or two things social entrepreneurs should have if they are looking to government partnerships through outsourcing or different partnerships.

Links to Resources:

Connect with Shannon:

FIP 93: Scaling Pathways with Erin Worsham of CASE, Duke University

This week we’re kicking off a three-part series on how social enterprises can partner with governments to achieve greater scale and impact. We’re talking with Erin Worsham, Executive Director of the award-winning Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Erin shares her views and insights from the Scaling Pathways research study around scaling impact through government partnerships. The Scaling Pathways study, of which Erin is the lead author, surveyed over 100 social enterprises to understand the hardest barriers and challenges encountered by social enterprises and gathered cross-cutting lessons and best practices to shed light on how to overcome those barriers and challenges.

On this podcast, you will learn:

  • Why working with governments has been identified as one of the key challenges for scaling impact by social enterprises. The Scaling Pathways study focused on uncovering some of the best practices and lessons from 11 social enterprises across geographies and sectors, such as VillageReach, Partners in Health, Code for America, and Pratham, to name a few.
  • Why as a first step, it is critical for social enterprises to set their vision for engaging with governments and define clear goals of the partnership and why funding from governments, while important, shouldn’t be the key driving goal for social enterprises.
  • What are the 4 recommended government partnership goals and the roles that social enterprises need to play in meeting these goals:
    1. Clear the path: engaging with governments to seek informal permission or permits and avoiding potential barriers.
    2. Outsourcing: having the government partners outsource the delivery of a certain product/ service through a contract.
    3. Adoption: working with the government partners to transition or transfer the management of a service or solution over a period.
    4. Change policy: influencing the government to change policies, allocate resources or change regulations.
  • Why social enterprises need to adapt their staffing based on the needs of the government partnership. Having local staff who understand the local context and who ideally have already existing established relationships with the governments, is critical to having a successful social enterprise-government partnership. Erin talks about specific examples from NGOs such as WSUP and Village Reach that have adapted their staffing model to address local contexts, government relationship management, and leadership to influence policy change.
  • Why it is important for social enterprises to know when to start engaging with government partners, i.e. start with a fully formed solution based on evidence that it works (building and proving the model first) or start with an idea of building together with the government? Build first or build together?
  • Finally, we look at the risks and challenges that could become stumbling blocks for social enterprises while engaging with governments, such as slow pace of government, political and leadership change, corruption, decrease in impact, etc., and how should social enterprises deal with such challenges or mitigate the occurrences of such risks.

Links to Resources:

Connect with Erin:

Kevin Green Finding Impact

FIP 92: Helping People Make the Right Choices with Kevin Green from Rare

We have Kevin Green from Rare, who leads their Center for Behavior & the Environment. He’s a whizz at qualitative and quantitative social research methods and behavior-centered design – and he’s on the show to talk us through using behavioural design in practice, so a real life example of how it was put into practice to motivate fishing communities to conserve their fishing resources so they didn’t deplete it and it would be around for future generations.

On this episode you’ll learn:

  • When applying behavioural design, you’re applying the best science available about people, what motivates them, how they make decisions – so what makes them tick – paired with the best knowledge available about the field you’re working. in. So for Kevin, that’s about the ecology of the resources and ecosystem they’re trying to protect.
    They knew that for fisheries to be sustainable, they need to limit the amount of fish taken out of the water at different times and allow the fish to renew. They also needed to motivate small communities to work together and self organise, to set rules themselves and enforce them, for their own benefit. Above all, they needed to lead that process themselves.
  • Existing tools we have had to solve big problems like these is through 3 tools: (1) we rely on policies to force people to do things, (2) incentives or disincentives to get people to do things, or (3) give information or data and hope they’ll change. These tools haven’t always done the trick. They assume people operate as rationale human beings. Wrong. Humans are emotional characters. Behavioural design comes in handy here.
  • We can use the behavioural design process. First step is to do empathy-based research with representative communities, understanding their motivations, needs and barriers through households surveys, in-depth interviews, participant observations, and focus groups. Once all this research is collected, you come up with a point-of-view of behaviours you think people need to adopt to fix the big problem.
  • After many pilots and empathy based research, Kevin and team figured that renewing coastal fisheries comes down to four categories of behaviours to restore and manage coastal fisheries: (1) fishers join a local register, to they get officially involved, (2) they need them to participate in self-organised management committees; (3) fisher comply with their own rules about what, when and how can be fished and fishers; (4) fishers have to collect and submit catch data.
  • We use behaviour design to think about how we can get the fishers to adopt and sustain the above four behaviours. They drew from the best knowledge about what motivates human beings to come up with: (1) making fishing something to be proud of; (2) give them the sense they’re part of a group so they have a reason to cooperate; (3) make doing the right thing observable so there’s a social benefit in doing it, and; (4) reducing the hassle to doing the right thing.
  • There are many triggers of human behaviour, like the four above. They are emerging all the time from different fields of science all bringing out new insights that predict how humans will behave.
  • Not to forget that this goes hand in hand with the physical infrastructure that needs setting up for these behaviours to be adopted. So in the above example, work needed to go into marking out the no-fish zone, there was a place to hold the community meetings, registers were setup, people knew where to record their catch, etc.

Links to resources:

Connect with Kevin:

FIP 91: Alexandra Fiorillo on behavioral science and social impact

Today, we speak with Alexandra Fiorillo of GRID Impact on how to incorporate behavioral design elements into social enterprises to maximize impact.

On this episode:

  • Alexandra defines behavioral design as the integration of the mindsets of the two disciplines of human-centered design and behavioral science. She explains how behavioral science is the study of action-taking and is often very focused on a single moment in time or decision while human-centered design is an empathy-based collaborative process which is used as a problem-solving tool. When these two are combined together, you have a discipline that addresses both how humans actually behave and as well as what their aspirations are.
  • Some of the elements of behavioral science that contribute to behavioral design include biases that create barriers to behavior, such as status quo or default bias. Understanding default bias is important for designers so they can think about how they can develop an active choice set.
  • Alexandra shares some of the ways behavioral design contributes to social enterprises, including helping companies create customer acquisition and retention strategies and develop marketing materials and pricing policies.
  • She goes in-depth on the example of sanitation, noting that just because a toilet is “better” does not mean it is necessarily going to be embraced by customers. Some of the barriers to adopting a new product – especially in the case of sanitation – could include social norms and mental barriers.
  • Another example from the global health field is kangaroo mother care, which Alexandra notes will not be taken up just because it is recommended. In this case, GRID Impact has worked to redesign and test new counseling experiences with families that employ visual story telling methods. As kangaroo mother care use usually drop-offs after hospital discharge, they are also testing a new method of turning the moment of discharge into something celebratory that encourages future use of the method.
  • Some of the practical principles of behavioral designs highlighted by Alexandra include focusing on changing the context of the decision and not the person. She also addresses “nudges” and advises that social enterprises think about incorporating the three principles of nudges: never mislead and always be transparent, always provide people with alternatives, and have a clear reason about why the nudge will ultimately be good for the person that is being nudged.
  • Her final tips are that social entrepreneur leaders should also consider their employees to be their users, focus on redesigning tiny moments, run micro-experiments, make evidence-based decisions, and understanding that some biases can actually be a combination of multiple biases.

Links to Resources:

Connect with Alexandra: