You fund good work in the developing world. We applaud you, and we share your commitment.
You’re attempting to change things that the rest of the west has effectively forgotten. And you’re trying to do it in a thoroughly modern way.
- You’re not giving money away. Rather, you are investing it in people and projects to create sustainable change.
- You know and believe in the common-sense mantra to “teach a man to fish,” but it’s easier said than done. Where do you start? Where do you intervene? How do you measure success?
- As much as you care about achieving meaningful change, you’ve invested in projects that promised a lot, but produced mere fractions of the promised results.
The biggest buzzword for development in the 21st century is “social enterprise.” In theory, social enterprise will achieve some very valuable objectives.
- Provide life-improving products and services.
- Generate appropriate “buy-in” to effectively change behavior.
- Create new income or savings that shift the future for people at the ‘base of the pyramid.’
- Establish a self-sustaining presence that, over time, provides employment and raises the standard of living for many people.
Business solutions make sense, but few in the developing world have the knowledge and experience to harness the power of a business approach to attack poverty.
- “Micro-entrepreneurism” sounds sexy and appealing, but can you really teach entrepreneurism? Think about it—how many entrepreneurs do you know who went to “entrepreneur” school?
- Entrepreneurship is caught, not taught. Right now, ridiculous amounts of money are being “invested” in the developing world trying to teach business skills and emulate business practices. Literally, billions are being wasted.
- The sad truth is that socially-minded people are often not very good at growing businesses – a tricky thing to do at any time, but especially challenging in a developing world setting.
You’re looking to fund activities that successfully integrate a heart-centered mission with a head-centered business strategy. There are two fundamental mistakes that can be made:
- Lack of sound business practices leads to ignorant mistakes that waste precious time and resources and ultimately invite failure.
- Lack of integrating the values and mission into the operational practices leads to an organization that looks good but is hell to be a part of.
As you look at the enterprises you are funding, do any of these problems sound familiar?
- Razor-thin margins that cannot sustain an ongoing business
- Ineffective management
- Wasteful, inefficient processes
- Ignorance of who to hire and how to train
- Mishandling of distribution and credit
- Overt dependence on (and in fact, addiction to) credit
- Manipulative and coercive selling practices
- Abysmal compensation structures
- Weak selling strategy
Contact us about the specific challenges you are facing in funding developing world businesses that can actually work. We’d be happy to speak with you.