How to Crack Social Entrepreneurship

How to Crack Social Entrepreneurship

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Chivas Regal has begun a global search for the most promising social entrepreneurs: Those with businesses or ideas that use enterprise and innovation as a force for good.

Up for grabs is $1 million of financial assistance, global exposure for their company or idea, and support from world-famous business mentors.

To be a social entrepreneur you need to be…

Socially conscious and in touch with what is happening in your society. Social entrepreneurship essentially holds up a mirror to the issues on the ground. In South Africa we are not short of issues.

The brief for social enterprises is written for us. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the capacity to implement. We hold many talk shops – we are not short of think-tanks. We now need do-tanks.

You are the local Chivas Regal’s Win the Right Way ambassador because…

I felt it was a progressive idea from a brand that was not stuck on cheesy pics of me sipping the product. Chivas Regal recognises that the world is open to opportunity and better ways of doing things.

They are encouraging prospective entrepreneurs to step forward, and incentivising them for establishing businesses that have impact. When we launched Design Indaba 20 years ago, we were not familiar with the term ’social enterprise.’

 

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Hopefully this campaign can launch a new generation of value creators – who create value not only for shareholders, but for society too.

To launch a social enterprise takes…

Three essential drivers, to my mind: Innovation – you need a fresh idea, or else you have parity; calculated risk-taking – be aware of downsides too; and pro-activity – speed of action is important. You need to be proactive, always on the run and putting yourself out there.

Things won’t just come to you and you’ll need to put in a lot of work to get people to believe in your project. Innovation is important. Take calculated risks. Don’t just jump in. Do your research, estimate the risk levels, and know what you are getting into.

For your social venture to mature…

You need to be a constant gardener. Don’t be complacent. When we launched Design Indaba we had 200 people attending; now we have 63 000 attendees.

We are constantly adding, refreshing and developing the festival. Every year we introduce a new element to Design Indaba. We now have a music and film festival. The website (designindaba.com) doesn’t just focus on the event but is a 24/7/365 inspiration water fountain for the intellectually curious.

The website is updated throughout the year with information that is useful and informative to everybody in the design industry and beyond. It’s grown from being more than just an annual event to an intellectual resource for designers. Entrepreneurs must embrace the idea that work is never complete, but that it’s always in beta version.

As a potential social entrepreneur, to succeed you need…

Inner drive, durability and resilience.  Its tough to get it right first time. You’ll meet people who don’t believe in your idea. Don’t surrender early. When we first launched Design Indaba, few took us seriously. Design was still thought of as frivolous and frothy – and something you only saw in glossy women’s magazines.

We had to to show design’s potency and primacy in improving the quality of life and in enhancing competitive advantage for business. And this is not a quick fix. It’s not just ’add water,’ instant gratification! It takes time. So commit to investing time too. We had to challenge that mind-set. And keep coming back.

As Interactive Africa we conceived and led the bid to host the 2006 Football World Cup – we failed. That didn’t mean we quit. We tried again and the 2010 World Cup hosted in South Africa was a result of that inner drive and not surrendering too early.

A social entrepreneur’s business plan should include…

  • Rigour. Do your research and have a strategic understanding of the terrain.
  • Go beyond what you know. The plan must be comprehensive and you need to ask yourself the hard questions before your competitors or customers do. Define your concept.  Articulate your mission and your vision.
  • Do a market analysis. Unpack your product or service and the operational plan to support it ( 4Ps essentially). Do a SWOT analysis. Work out the personnel requirements. Develop the financials and understand your funding and cash flow needs. Write an executive summary. This is your elevator pitch.

As a social entrepreneur be prepared to face these stumbling blocks…

No one took us seriously. People didn’t see the impact of design as being an agent of change. At the time everybody was scrambling for a piece of the market share.

We asked the question: Who is growing the market-cake that everyone is scrambling for? Our company was our response to growing the cake. Africa has plenty of resources but we are not leading in the production sector.

For example Ghana grows cocoa beans but doesn’t produce chocolates. We need to understand processes and production. It is gaps like these which Design Indaba aimed to bridge.

A social entrepreneur improves their odds of funding by…

The power of your idea. Also, understand the power of trade exchanges, bartering and value in kind.

Many companies are looking to make a difference – if you have a great idea that is well packaged you will get traction with them. Be creative and collaborative. Great ideas can be bootstrapped.

Advice for social entrepreneurs planning to send their business plans for Win The Right Way…

Start something that’s leveraged off your passion. Find meaning. Design Indaba feels like a calling and not a job. It’s become a theatre to enact our dreams. Create yours.

My proudest moment since launching Design Indaba was handing over keys to ten new homes – to families who had lived in shacks.

The Design Indaba 10X10 Low-Cost Housing Project aimed to create alternative solutions to housing. It was that wholesome moment that made it all worthwhile.

That’s what your business plan should do: Give you purpose beyond profit.

To find out how to enter the competition, visit www.theventure.com

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