Boosting competition to scale your impact: the Skateistan example

Wow! Thanks to corona times (I know: it’s odd to be thankful to a virus, but it has some collateral goodness to it) I was able to join an online session of the Skoll World Forum. Having an interest in scaling impact, I was happy to see a session entitled ‘Empowering Competitors to Scale Impact’. The session was hosted by Oliver Percovich, founder of Skateistan, and Rhianon Bader, the driving force behind Goodpush. And oh boy, my brain hurts because this session was a true avalanche of inspiring insights and quotes.

At first, Oliver explained the fantastic work that Skateistan does. In Afghanistan, Cambodia and South-Africa this social enterprise runs skate schools for children aged 5-17. The programs they offer combine life-skills with fun, freedom and creativity, to help create leaders for a better world. Feeling the urge to spread their impact, Skateistan also runs The Goodpush Alliance, a global platform that supports other social skateboarding projects so they can develop and thrive. The Goodpush openly shares their knowledge among social skateboarding projects worldwide, so that they can all make a bigger impact together. Training and advice are offered via online resources, workshops, support calls, and awards. 

Let me share some of my notes from what has been told in this session. I’m sure you will find it as great as I do  #scalingimpact

  • We found out that our solution works, so it made us look at ways to create greater impact. The key to growing impact is in knowledge sharing.
  • We had a lot of knowledge that could help other projects that are popping up around the world. Some are real grassroots. We decided to create a platform where we could share expertise and push the boundaries globally
  • If you want your solution to work in other locations, you better look at people who truly know the local context. There is no use in having others making exact copies of what you do; each region is different. Local people understand the local problems and local stakeholders are very important.
  • Instead of installing Skateistan communities around the world, we decided that it would be better to feed a network. If we would ask others to use the brand Skateistan, we would have  to install a follow-up system to avoid reputation loss. Meanwhile, the existing local initiatives very often act under their own name already and there would not be added value to have them change their name. For this reason, GoodPush is a network platform that feeds all these different organisations, no matter what brand they use.
  • The Goodpush platform also brings in more different approaches than when Skateistan would be the single ‘source of wisdom’. Oliver shared his insight that at a certain point the local skateboarding projects can get even more value from the other projects than from Skateistan, because they work from a more similar context. In these cases, The Goodpush platform has its biggest relevance in connecting the projects to each other.
  • It’s our job to inspire and to provide others with things that are relevant to them. It’s important for us to provide something that really, really works. We need to understand how we do our work. The Goodpush invests in mutual learning opportunities: it is not only about Skateistan sharing their expertise, but as well about everyone involved learning from each other.  
  • Using this open approach attracts funders: some funders really appreciate the level of openness that is used by Skateistan

Don’t you agree that Skateistan and Goodpush are an excellent example of how social enterprises use different scaling approaches? While in the corporate venture world, scaling is always considered as ‘upscaling’ (increasing production, creating branches in other countries,…) social enterprises take the impact point of view and involve strategies to ‘scale out’ as well.

Interested to see their webinar too? Lucky you: here is the recording of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Nai_rrEUFM&t=19s

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