Rachel Sklar Finding Impact

FIP 86: Audience Stories – Rachel Sklar from Pit Vidura

Rachel Sklar takes the guest seat this week to tell us how the Finding Impact Podcast is helping her with her business in Rwanda. Rachel runs Pit Vidura, which offers pit latrine emptying services in dense urban areas where there are no sewers.

On this episode you’ll learn

  • Apart from helping to improve her business, the podcast has helped Rachel get back into long distance running! When she’s back at her desk Rachel listens to bits again and writes down the parts that were the most insightful and sends it to members of her team, inviting them to listen and come back to her to have a conversation about it.
  • The podcast is confirmation to Rachel that they’re on the right track. Sometimes they have to make stuff up on the fly and under pressure. So later when they listen, they realise others have taken their course of action as well. The podcast also confirms that not everyone has the answers before they start.
  • Rachel and her team are not from a business background so some of the knowledge, in the form of frameworks or processes, is really useful.
  • They also hear that others are doing the same thing they are, but they speak about it using more formal language and approaches. So it allows Rachel and her team to redevelop their strategy in a more structured way and speak to people externally using the right language.
  • She loved the episode with Lauren from GetIt about how her food distribution business soon became a logistics business, since this is what their pit emptying business has become.
  • Fausto’s episode was also instructive in that he shared how the early days were so scrappy, and they survived from winning a few prizes and surviving off of customer revenues, which is how it’s been with Pit Vidura. Fausto was also open and honest about the emotional side of a startup, and the thoughts of failure, which Rachel experiences.
  • The interview with Jonathan Lewis also resonated with Rachel, about a sector-wide problem which is the lack of diversity in social enterprise, and which she’s now building into the values of her company to intentionally confront this.
  • The episode with Rob Mills helped Rachel talk about social enterprise to more traditional investors, and help them understand what a social enterprise is.
  • Rachel really enjoyed the episode on unit economics with Steve Andrews. As with many social enterprises serving the base of the pyramid, you need to be so clued-up on your unit economics and use it as a management tool for decision making.
  • We talk about imposter syndrome, where you feel you don’t have enough of experience, knowledge, skills, (insert next one here!)… to build a business. Rachel has found listening to the podcast has made her realise that everyone’s in the same boat – no one really knows everything they’re going to do from the beginning and there are times you’ve just got to do your best.
  • Human capital is a constant struggle and something that doesn’t just go away, but needs constant effort behind a clear strategy. Cycling through employees, particularly during the early days, is an approach others take as well, whilst jealously guarding culture.
  • Also, we discuss a very open style of management, where you get to know your team personally, as described by Raghu Krishnasway.
  • Rachel suggests a way to improve the podcast could be to touch on people’s personal careers or lives, maybe even an activity, a quote, a joke, or something, so that listeners get a little more sense of their personality.

Links to resources:

Connect with Rachel:

 

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