Archives for category: Social Entrepreneurship

So ladies and gentlemen, it’s been exactly one year since ThinkChange Pakistan was launched. Conceived over early morning Skype calls, and an endless stream of e-mails, TC-P is a humble attempt to track the growing social innovation, and entrepreneurship space in Pakistan.  While we are still a long way from capturing this growing #socent/#socinn space in its entirety, we are confident that with your constant feedback, we can continue to chip away at what we have started.

A big thank you to our contributors for making the editorial team’s job a little easier, and to the wonderful change-makers for taking the time out of their ridiculously busy schedules to talk to us about their work.

Since Feb 15 2011 – Feb 15 2012 has been an eventful year for all three of us (TC-P editors that is), we would like to share some of the things we have learned about the #socent and development space in the past twelve months:

Jeremy in action: Making a sales pitch for solar lanterns in Thatta

Jeremy, EcoEnergy Finance

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed already! The biggest change for me in the past year has been joining EcoEnergyFinance as their Director of Operations and conducting their pilot distribution of 100 solar lanterns in Sindh, Pakistan. Working in a social enterprise, rather than talking from the sidelines, has revealed to me the considerable challenges faced in the sector.

One of the toughest challenges has been determining how we work with other organisations to achieve our aims. We’ve had to wrack our brains to develop a partnership model, and after many revisions and meetings where people are confused by what we do, I think we’re making slow steps towards clarity. I’m hoping that after the pilot, I’ll be able to share a great deal more about these challenges, for other people to learn from!

Maryam, IREX:

Html codes, wire requests, grant monitoring, online portals and classrooms – these are some of the things that have kept me busy the past few months. Since November, I have been working to get our program’s alumni activities off the ground. Currently our alumni programming consists of a small grants program for community development projects, and a series of online trainings. My work with TC-P has increased my exposure to fantastic social enterprises working in Pakistan, and instilled in me the importance of sustainability, and establishing rigorous standards for project design, and financial transparency, which has really helped me with my work with the small grants program, as well as ADP.

Since we primarily rely on technology to communicate with our alumni, I was initially daunted by our ‘lack of options’ and honestly, a little skeptical about the impact of online trainings. But thanks to my personal experience with amazing organizations like TechChange, and TC-P posts on mobile technology, and virtual education in Pakistan’s schools, I have realized that I may have been giving edtech a lot less credit than it deserved. I am excited about continuing to learn more about this space, and exploring how it can be realistically integrated in basic education development projects on a larger scale.

Kalsoom, Invest2Innovate

In the last year, I was readying to launch my start-up Invest2Innovate before going live in September 2011. i2i is building early-stage social enterprises and access to capital in new and untapped markets, beginning (of course) with Pakistan. We are currently working with four social enterprise clients, including EcoEnergy Finance (where Jeremy is the Operations Director!), and doing due diligence on a fifth client. i2i is also building the funding pipeline and look forward to potentially building an angel investor network for start-up social enterprises. The road this year has been harrowing, rewarding, tricky, and exciting – all at the same time. It hasn’t been easy, and start-up life is a rollercoaster of emotions, but I wouldn’t change my decision for anything. I think few people can say that they are doing what they truly love, so I feel really blessed to be working with incredible partner organizations and entrepreneurs who inspire me every day.

Dear TC-P readers, here’s what you may have missed in the world of #socent in the past couple of weeks. If WE have missed anything, do let us know in your comments.

#Pakistan updates:

Events:

Opportunities:

Resources:

  • A new report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, in collaboration with the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship looks into how social entrepreneurship is redefining the meaning of return.
  • IDEO released a free innovation guide for social enterprises and NGOs working worldwide. Have a look and let us know what you think!

Did you know?

It’s ThinkChange Pakistan’s first birthday next week? If you like what we do, and want to help out, write to us! Also, don’t forget to check out our updated social enterprise list. A big thank you to everyone who completed our social enterprise form!

2012 promises to be a good year for BLISS, says Saba Gul, the Co-Founder & Executive Director of BLISS, Business & Life Skills School. Below Saba writes about BLISS’s new partnership with Sughar Women and her recent visit to their vocational training center in Thatta, Sindh.  This post first appeared on the BLISS blog. 

We’re starting off the new year with some thrilling news: BLISS is scaling to Mirpur Sakro, Thatta in the Southern province of Sindh, where we will start working with 100 women and girls. Thatta was badly affected by the 2010 floods, with devastating effects on livelihoods.

Our executing partner on the ground is Sughar – a program of PDI(Participatory Development Initiatives), founded by the indomitable Khalida Brohi, also an Unreasonable fellow in 2010.

This past weekend, I visited Sughar’s vocational center in Mirpur Sakro, accompanied by Khalida, Jeremy Higgs, Manager of Operations for EcoEnergy Finance, and a dear friend Seher Suleman (who shares with the rest of us a hunger to change the world).

A 3 hour ride from Karachi, much of it on a dirt road with agricultural wasteland on either side, brought us to a large wooden shed that served as Sughar’s vocational center for the village. Men and women from the village filed in with smiles on their faces.

The women were thrilled to be able to showcase their work, which was so beautiful that Seher and I couldn’t resist whipping out whatever cash we had to buy some of it off of them right there and then. While none of them spoke Urdu, Khalida patiently translated everything they said.

In conversations with the women, I found out that none of the girls in the village were enrolled in school beyond the age of 12. The main reason seemed to be a lack of female teachers, without which it was culturally unacceptable for the girls to attend school. The teachers had been sent/appointed by the government, and repeated requests to send female teachers had been ignored. The other reason was early marriages — most girls were married off by the time they were 15. We visited the only school in the village, with one classroom that was used for both boys and girls attending all grades.

Jeremy had a fascinating conversation with the men about selling solar lamps to them, since the village didn’t have electricity. We exchanged some laughs as the men told a story about how their mobile phones were taken to the nearby city every week by one of them to be charged. The women jumped in as soon as Jeremy asked what difficulties the village faced without electricity, all talking at the same time. They wanted to have lights for cooking, feeding their children, doing household chores. Their lives had to be paused from sunset to sunrise.

A few of the men wanted the solar lamps for free, even though the monthly installments Jeremy had worked out for them equalled the amount they spent on kerosene every month. Notwithstanding the fact that the lamp would be theirs to own in 8 months, that they would never have to pay for kerosene again, and that the lamps were far superior to kerosene in terms of the light they produced as well as safety and health-wise. But too many NGOs had come and gone and offered free solutions that didn’t last beyond a few months. Free was still attractive.

Jeremy did succeed in striking a deal with the men, and now has an order from a neighboring village as well.

I left the village as I had left Attock almost two years ago — a little heartbroken at the limited resources this community had available to them, but really excited about the opportunity this presented for BLISS.

I can’t wait for us to work with these women! And with Khalida, someone whose work I’ve admired since I first met her last year. Here’s to new beginnings — 2012 promises to be a good year!

Is social entrepreneurship in Pakistan restricted to the realm of the Western-educated elite, or can we find traces of it in our local culture? TC-P Contributor, Favad Soomro in his guest piece below explores ‘Aadhiyari’, a fascinating indigenous social investment model found in rural Sindh. 

Working in rural areas has its charms. You not only get to see the serene landscape and enjoy the hospitality of people, you also come across things which you normally don’t find in books. Rural markets, though very rudimentary in many ways, offer certain unique opportunities and surely micro entrepreneurs step up to exploit those and create value in their own context.

During one of routine visits to interior Sindh, while in conversation with Khadim Hussain, Sales Manager of Micro Drip – a social enterprise selling low-cost drip irrigation systems, I came to know about a very interesting social investment model. Khadim said that he invests in his native village’s economy to create social impact while earning handsome return on his money. His village near Mehrabpur in District Naushero Feroze is a typical rural village where the economy is dominated by agriculture and livestock. He said that he invests in ‘Aadhiyari’: a livestock investment model practiced widely in rural Sindh. I probed more and here is what I found out:

 The Model

Aadhiyari or Aadhiyaro (from the word Aadha or Adh meaning half) model works on principle of equal sharing between partners. Investors like Khadim provide capital to skilled resources in rural economy who know how to raise livestock but don’t have enough resources of their own. They are typically the laborers or landless farmers. Investor only provides seed money which is used in purchase of very young livestock. The partner, let’s call him the service provider, takes the custody of livestock, feeds it and helps it grow through his own resources. Typically, the investment for smaller livestock like goats is for nine months to a couple of years. At the end of the stipulated period, the livestock and its off-spring is sold in the market. Investor and service provider take their original investments out first and the rest of proceeds are shared equally between the investor and the service provider. The value is generated in raising the livestock which fetches pretty handsome prices in semi-urban or urban markets.

 

The return for investor alone ranges any where from 50 to 100% depending upon the duration of investment. This information of course is based on non-documented sources and must be discounted.

 Breaking it Down

There is a variety of motivation at play here. Investor invests to earn good return on capital. Very few do it to increase money supply in rural economy and create a social impact. In some cases, poor households, having some livestock of their own, get into the arrangement to raise working capital in short run. The motivation however does not change the rules of the game.

Like any other investment, the model carries its own set of risks. It is entirely based on social arrangements. No formal agreements are signed and in case of a conflict, arbitration is done through social arrangements. Other risks include death and disease of livestock. The coverage of veterinary services in rural Pakistan is pretty poor and poses this inherent risk in its full magnitude. Another risk relates to the security as we see theft of livestock a common crime. However, it seems that certain equilibrium has been achieved in our social context and investors are not really shy of taking on these risks, making Aadhiyari a thriving business. As I found out later, this model is in practice in Punjab also where it is known as Bhaiwali. I am sure it will be in practice in rest of Pakistan and with our shared history, in some form in rural India as well.

 A Social Enterprise? Perhaps

If we analyze this model, on surface it looks well suited to our rural economy. Each player is engaged in a role that suits him the best. But is it sustainable? Is it scalable? It surely does not treat Bottom of Pyramid as consumers. It is more in line with social enterprises, like BLISS, which eventually make the Bottom of Pyramid a ‘producer’. It also has similarities to microfinance with a difference that in this case, investment is made in the form of micro-equity rather than micro-lending. This aspect of sharing in profits gives this model a religious tint, bringing it in line with Islamic mode of finance.

 The potential of such micro-equity investments in rural development can be significant. If coupled with good veterinary services and capacity building in livestock management, it can help increase income levels of landless farmers. A structured approach can mitigate risks and make this indigenous arrangement into a formal development strategy. After all Grameen Bank, and microfinance in general, was also established providing formal structure to economic arrangements already in place in Bangladesh’s social context.

About the TC-P Contributor: Favad Soomro works for promoting water conservation technologies in agriculture sector in Pakistan. A business graduate with experience in agriculture input supply chain, he is trying to figure out his and social entrepreneurship’s place in Pakistan’s development maze.

Hello readers! Here’s what’s going on in the exciting world of #socent:

  • Congratulations to P@SHA Fund’s first round winners: Sabah Rehman, Farhan Masood, Waqas Ali and Usman Siddiqui! 
  • Also meet Teach For Pakistan’s first cohort of brilliant fellows!
  • Read Express Tribune’s coverage on Wondermilk, a small venture in Karachi that is selling, promoting and expanding the consumption of camel milk.

Events:

Opportunities:

  • The deadline to submit your pitch for the Pitch for Change competition at Harvard Social Enterprise Conference (Feb 25 – 26 2012) is January 20.

Opinion: 

Some inspiration: 

Word cloud generated from TC-P Top Social Enterprise Survey responses

On December 2011, #socent buffs in Pakistan voted for their favorite social enterprise through TC-P’s Pakistan’s Top Social Enterprises in 2011 survey. Here’s what we learned:

Naya Jeevan:  Pakistan’s Top Social Enterprise

An overwhelming majority voted for Naya Jeevan, a not-for profit social enterprise that provides low-income families with access to catastrophic healthcare through their unique micro-insurance program. Founded in 2007 by Asher Hasan, the organization is currently headquartered in Karachi.

Incidentally one of TC-P’s first #socent spotlights was on Naya Jeevan. For a more detailed insight into the organizations, have a look at our Q&A with founder, Asher Hasan here.

2011 has been a great year for Naya Jeevan. In the past one year, the organization has quadrupled its number of beneficiaries. The total beneficiaries now enrolled in Naya Jeevan health plan is 15,300. New clients that have come onboard include:

  • Pakistan International Container Terminal Limited
  • Philip Morris
  • Alucan Pakistan (Pvt), Alu Pak Pakistan (Pvt)
  • HRSG Outsourcing
  • Philips Pakistan
  • CinePax (Box Office)
  • FM 91
  • Abu Dawood Trading Co, Pakistan
  • Indus Pharma
  • DHA Services

Founder and CEO, Asher Hasan was also awarded World Economic Forum/Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 and the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship.

In addition to expanding its client base and continuing to receive global recognition, Naya Jeevan initiated two very promising projects:

NGO Schools: Philanthropic Model

The project is a pilot to compare health insurance to managed healthcare in NGO schools across Pakistan. Currently 7,309 NGO school children are enrolled in either an indemnity or managed healthcare plan across the country. Some participating schools are Manzil School in Karachi,  Zindagi Trust’s ‘I Am Paid to Learn’ schools, SOS Village, DIL schools in Khairpur, Mashal School in Islamabad and Sweet Home Foundation.

 Artpreneurs for Change

Naya Jeevan is currently running an initiative called “Artpreneurs for Change” to help children with disabilities enroll in the Naya Jeevan managed care health plan. The project is a collaborative effort between Naya Jeevan, NOWPDP (Network of Organizations Working With People With Disabilities in Pakistan), Fulbright alumni and art therapists. Seed funding was given by the US State Department as a part of the first ever Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF). The project aims at running art therapy classes in three schools for children with disabilities (Dar-ul-Sakoon, ACELP, and Ida Rieu) and to use auction proceeds from the resulting artwork to raise awareness and funds for the healthcare of these children.

Your Responses

Kashf Foundation, Pakistan’s premier microfinance institution was voted as the next top social enterprise of 2011. It was recognized by voters as having the most community outreach and social impact in rural Pakistan. Read TC-P’s detailed piece on the foundation here.

While Kashf Foundation and Naya Jeevan have been consistent #socent faves in Pakistan, we we were happy to see some voters point towards some of the newer or lesser known initiatives as well:

About Pharmagen:

Pharmaceutical drugs in developing countries is an important issue, and I’m glad there are organizations like Pharmagen out there that seek to maintain a bare minimum quality of drugs available to the public. As far as I hear, they’re doing a good job at what they do.

About Jassar Farms:

(Reason for voting for Jassar Farms): Potential social impact. Huge in my opinion – far greater than others. It’ll enable BoP to create value through ‘more’ productive assets and increase income levels. Investments in education, health, housing will surely follow then in a more sustainable manner.

About Participatory Development Initiatives:

Ideological affinity with concept of participatory development. Especially impressed with PDI’s initiative on land rights; not aware of any other local organizations working on this very crucial issue.

Thank you once again to all those who participated in our survey. Your feedback helps us highlight the work of these great innovative organizations and encourage the social entrepreneurship space in Pakistan. If you have suggestions regarding which social enterprises to highlight in 2012, write to us

 

Happy new year dear readers! Here’s our round-up of some of our favorite #socent updates:

  • If you haven’t already, read this great article on Express Tribune about Ego, a clothing retailer that invests in entrepreneurial employees.
  • Alex Gregor from Acumen Fund writes a thoughtful post about the ‘Other Side of Pakistan‘.
  • Read this quick but important op-ed on how to start executing your business plans.
  • All aspiring social entrepreneurs should check out this exhaustive list of how to fund your social venture
  • In the process of setting up your own start-up? 3 young advocates in Lahore have set up the Altair Initiative, which specializes in working with new entrepreneurs to ensure their businesses achieve maximum legal security.
  • Teach For Pakistan’s fellowship application for 2012 is now live, go check it out! 
  • Acumen Fund is hiring a Pakistan Fellows Program Manager, apply!
  • Tomorrow is the last day to participate in our Pakistan’s to social enterprises of 2011 survey. If you haven’t already, please help us support their work and vote for the social enterprise that speaks to you the most.
  • Interested in writing for us? E-mail us at thinkchangepakistan@gmail.com and let us know!

Last month, there was a fascinating opinion piece in the New York Times titled ‘Generation Sell’.

The author, William Deresiewicz after his (fairly) recent move to Portland was on a mission to get a handle on today’s youth culture:

“The style is easy enough to describe…But style is superficial. The question is, what’s underneath? What idea of life? What stance with respect to the world?”

One of Deresiewicz’s students was told that the Millennial Generation was “post-emotional” – no anger, no edge, no ego. What is that about, asked Deresiewicz. After some probing, he realizes: “The millennial affect is the affect of the salesman…Today’s ideal social form is not the commune or the movement or even the individual creator as such; it’s the small business”.

Deresiewicz extends his observation to social entrepreneurship and how the field has emerged as the Millennial Generation spin on do-goodery.

However, what I am most interested in (for the purpose of this post) is Deresiewicz’s statement of the millennial affect being the ‘affect of the salesman‘. When an entrepreneur sets up a business (or in our case a social enterprise), they cannot escape from their responsibility, their need to sell.

In her recent piece on her experience at the Unreasonable Institute, an incubator for social entrepreneurship, Saba quoted Tom Suddes’s advice to the fellows, “You’re in sales. Get over it!” If they could not show conviction and sell their idea to people, why would anyone invest their time or money in them?

As a result, a critical component of Saba’s experience (and training) at the Institute was learning how to pitch:

“We went from pitching to a few dozen people at the weekly ‘family pitches’ where the audience was other fellows, to pitching to a hundred or so folks at the ‘community pitches’ that were open to the Boulder community, to pitching to a packed Boulder Theater that seated more than 300 folks, at the Unreasonable climax event.”

Clearly, if you are a budding social entrepreneur, learning to sell is a skill that you simply cannot ignore. So what’s the first step towards making your enterprise attractive to investors and making a convincing pitch?

Kalsoom prior to starting Invest2Innovate, was on the funding side for nearly four years as head of ML Resources’ venture philanthropy wing. When deciding which initiatives to fund, she said her starting point was to check if the business was viable. “I first looked at whether the business made sense – what was the gap it was addressing, what was its value proposition, how did it distinguish itself from its competitors, and most importantly, how did it plan to monetize what it was doing.”

Zehra Ali, the CEO and co-founder of Ghonla also emphasized the importance of keeping the message simple.

“When I initially started pitching – I would get quite overwhelmed and there would be a lot that I wanted to include. After nearly four years of the process, I’ve realized one thing and that is to keep the pitch simple and engaging. You don’t need to overload with facts. With a pitch it’s always about getting others to buy into your vision- if they do, then they can also get in touch with you after for more details”.

According to Zehra, some basics your pitch should address are:

  • What you do?
  • Why you do it?
  • How is your approach different? In the case of a social enterprise- what makes your business sustainable and with the potential to scale?
  • What are your next steps? Where do you need help? How can the audience get involved?

The appeal of your pitch…in fact, enterprise as a whole also lies in your personality and the passion you display.

Kalsoom writes:

“I am not a fan of how the social entrepreneurship world props up individuals rather than enterprises…But at the same time, when assessing whether or not an early-stage enterprise should be funded, it’s important to also note the entrepreneur involved – how hungry are they? Would they go without a salary if it means getting their enterprise off the ground? Would they take the plunge and leave a well-paid job for a very unstable lifestyle…So I looked (and still do) for that in entrepreneurs – that passion, determination, and hunger…Those are the people who weather through the storm, as that is part of what takes a business from concept to a legitimate enterprise.”

Social entrepreneurs while pitching have to straddle a fine line between inspiration and pragmatism, innovation and simplicity. Not an easy feat but this is precisely where the passion, hunger and determination that Kalsoom mentioned come in handy.

On that note, we will leave you with Jean Brittingham’s 10 ways for Female Entrepreneurs to Get Funded (Some key lessons for male entrepreneurs as well!)

Hello dear readers! Here’s your weekly round-up of all things #socent:

  • Can Venture Capital Save the World? Forbes magazine runs a cover story on Acumen Fund’s work in its December 19 issue. Also have a look at the Forbes list of top 30 social entrepreneurs in 2011.
  • Impact investing and social entrepreneurship are inextricably linked. To learn more, read the transcript of the roundtable on impact investing in the Standford Social Innovation Review.  The panelists included Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, Katherine Milligan, head of North America and Middle East at the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Johanna Mair, chair of the Global Agenda Council on Social Innovation, associate professor of strategic management at IESE Business School, and academic editor of Stanford Social Innovation Review among others.
  • HSBC Bank invests $4 million in the Social Enterprise nvestment Fund that aims to provide creatively structured, growth capital to social enterprises that have the potential to have a significant social impact, and provide a financial return target in excess of 5 per cent to investors. Read more about the move here.
  • Vodafone is starting mobile banking in India. The service, which is called ‘M-Paisa’ enables selected retailers to offer banking services to Vodafone customers, who are able to withdraw from or deposit to their HDFC account and transfer funds using their mobile device. If you haven’t already, read our related post on Telenor’s Easy Paisa.
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business  established the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing EconomiesThe Institute aims to stimulate, develop, and disseminate research and innovations that will enable entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders to alleviate poverty in developing economies.
  • Acumen Fund is hiring for Pakistan! For more details visit the Acumen Fund Blog.

After a bit of a hiatus, we’re back with Stuff #Socent People Like for the week. It’s been a busy few months, with Maryam travelling extensively, Kalsoom starting her own company and me (Jeremy) taking on an exciting position with a startup social enterprise. But, we’re back!

So, what happened this week:

Is there more happening in the #socent space? Let us know!

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