Leading in Challenging Times

Leading in Challenging Times


Over the past few years, a big shift has started to take place. Non-profit organisations have begun to realise how unsustainable grant funding can be, and a new focus on self-generating profits has emerged.

Alongside this movement are social entrepreneurs, business owners who don’t only want to create sustainable, profit generating businesses, but also do some good in the process.

This move towards social awareness and making a real difference in communities is underpinned by some very real and widespread business concerns:

  • Only 42% of leaders inspire and engage employees
  • 79% of CEOs expect high levels of complexity in the next five years, but only 49% feel prepared for it
  • Inspirational leadership, teaming leadership and global mindset are the three most sought after attributes in business leaders critical to success, just behind customer obsession
  • 69% of CEOs agree that people skills are the second external force, second only to technology factors, that could impact their organisations in the next three to five years
  • 71% see human capital as a key source of sustained economic value
  • 59% of students believe that education is not preparing them to benefit from the new role of emerging markets
  • 52% believe they are not prepared for social and environmental sustainability.


The ripple effect

Combining people development with social impact. Three years ago three MBA students at the IE Business School in Madrid began discussing the challenges facing developing markets and how they could make a difference.

Through their studies they were aware of how important soft ‘people’ skills were becoming for sustainable success, and how leaders often felt ill-equipped in dealing with market complexities and challenges. What if they could provide strategic skills to non-profit and social enterprises, with corporates and MBA students and universities footing the bill? It would be a for-profit social enterprise that helped other social enterprises on a per-project basis.

“We wanted to create a world where business leaders and organisations are committed to social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and financial success, resulting in a more prosperous, empowered, and inclusive society,” says partner Pablo Esteves.

During a trip to South Africa for the FIFA World Cup in 2010, the partners launched Emzingo’s pilot programme.

“During the past three years we have worked directly with more than 30 organisations to help them better solve some of the world’s most complex poverty-related issues,” says Esteves.

“Through our work we have developed deep knowledge and expertise in crucial areas, including the non-profit sector and strategy; emerging markets; social business modeling and strategy; branding and communication strategy; project management; positive transformation of organisational culture; impact assessment and performance metrics; and operational efficiency, to name a few.”

Related: Ideas that are Cracking the Billion Dollar Nut

How it works

The Emzingo Alumni network includes over 110 graduate students from some of the world’s top academic programmes, including IE Business School, Leeds Business School, London School of Economics, ESADE, IESE, McGill University and Georgetown University, faculty and research centres from top international academic institutions and programmes, and subject matter experts and advisors from top consulting firms and think tanks in different sectors worldwide.

The Emzingo fellowship programme gives its alumni unprecedented access to the challenges facing emerging markets, which informs their own social skills development and acts as an exceptional addition to their resumes. For Emzingo’s channel partners, a highly qualified MBA graduate will work with them on a specific project for a predefined outcome.

“Emzingo’s alumni are not only a great network themselves, but they’ve found placements in top international firms,” says Esteves.

Related: Smart Business Ideas of the Future

Nadine Todd
Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.