Archives for category: Glossary/Background

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.

Hello dear TC-P readers! Here is a round-up of what you missed this past week:

  •  Bill Drayton, the Founder and CEO of Ashoka, which now has over 3,000 social entrepreneurs in the field all over the world, recently spoke to the Christian Science Monitor as his organization celebrates its 30-year anniversary. On the topic of changemakers, he noted, “No social entrepreneur is going to run tens of thousands of schools. It’s not going to happen. But if you get thousands of people and thousands of communities to take your idea and run with it, you can change tens of thousands of schools. You can do it all over the world.” (Fun fact: Drayton is also known for this quote: “Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a man a fish or teach him how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”)
  • Speaking of the impact of an idea, read this Forbes article on the Dragonfly Effect, which examines how people are forming  and connecting groups using social media to create change throughout the world.
  • Also via Forbes, the Grassroots Business Fund, an impact investing fund, is reportedly in the midst of a $60 million fundraising effort, “which it will use to scale its hybrid business model—a combination of grants and for-profit investments that it hopes will generate “low double-digit returns to investors.'” GBF invests in businesses mainly in the agriculture sector that have a hard time attracting capital.
  • In India, Intellecap, an Indian social sector advisory firm, launched I-cube N, a platform for corporate firms that are looking to invest in social enterprises. According to VC Circle, “In the first phase, Intellecap will bring on board 15-20 committed investors with investment capacity of $1-2 million,” to be involved in about 5-6 transactions a year. It’s a further example of how developing ecosystems in countries like India can make social entrepreneurship truly flourish.

From Pakistan

  • Last week, PBS Newshour featured Pakistani microfinance bank Kashf in its program. Listen to an MP3 of Roshaneh Zafar’s interview and read the transcript here.
  • 2010 Acumen Fund fellow Muhammad Zahoor speaks about the promise of leadership in Pakistan in this piece for Acumen’s blog, touching on the energy of Pakistan’s youth and their drive to make change.

Social Entrepreneurship. It's so hot right now.

Social entrepreneurship is so hot right now.

You know you have at least heard variations of that sentence in the last few years. Twitter even has a hashtag to capture the awesomeness that is social entrepreneurship. It’s called #socent. All the cool kids use it.

But how many of us truly understand the underlying intricacies of that term or the terms associated with it? Do we throw around the words “innovation” and “social enterprise” because it’s sexy, or because we truly believe in the value of out-of-the-box ideas to achieve social change?

ThinkChange Pakistan aims to demystify this sphere in order to foster dialogue, learning and collaboration within the social entrepreneurship and innovation space. In Pakistan, social enterprises – social mission-driven businesses that take market-based approaches to achieve social impact – represent a small but growing contingent in an increasingly dynamic global field. Organizations like D.Light, Husk Power Systems, Naya Jeevan, Samasource, and Ansaar Management Company are tackling poverty challenges throughout the world, and are achieving social (and in some cases, environmental and financial) returns that can be brought to scale. There is much that Pakistani social entrepreneurs can learn not only from each other, but also from social entrepreneurs in other areas of the world.

In the coming months, ThinkChange Pakistan will provide case studies of current social enterprises, interviews with social entrepreneurs and players in the space, contributions, job postings, and pieces that hope to foster dialogue on the dynamics of this industry. We recognize that many of these terms and acronyms – SROI, DBL, PRIs, the list goes on – can be overwhelming, and frankly, a little obnoxious. That is why we created a glossary of terms for this website. We also value the importance of collaboration, and have posted profiles on the social enterprises/networks currently operating in Pakistan, a list that will continue to be updated.

At the end of the day, ThinkChange Pakistan is a team of people (Jeremy, Maryam, and myself – Kalsoom) who care deeply about fostering dialogue within the social entrepreneurship space in Pakistan, because we feel non-traditional approaches to development can play a significant role in alleviating poverty.

In other words, it’s because we too believe that social entrepreneurship is so hot right now.

(Big thank you to Khizra Munir, who designed the TC-P logo, and the team at ThinkChange India for their guidance and encouragement!)

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