OPINIE: sociale ondernemers, keep calm and carry on!

Keep calm. In de slipstream van de mediastorm rond LGU Academy vzw en Sihame El Kaouakibi, werd sociaal ondernemerschap de voorbije weken in de pers geregeld karikaturaal afgeschilderd.  Alsof het een tang op een varken betreft wanneer vzw’s sociale ondernemingen worden. Dit is geen opinie om LGU Academy of Sihame El Kaouakibi te verdedigen: we kennen de feiten en de stukken niet, we vertrouwen op ons rechtssysteem om daar een oordeel over te vormen. Met deze opinie willen we de vele sociale ondernemers een hart onder de riem steken door ze op een genuanceerder canvas te schetsen.

Keep calm and read on. Het begrip “sociale onderneming” wordt door velen op het terrein geclaimd en met diverse parameters onderbouwd in Belgische en Europese regelgeving. Het zou ons te ver brengen en te technisch worden, om dat hier in net geen 1.000 tekens uit de doeken te doen.  De kern van de zaak is: deze organisaties bestaan omwille van de positieve sociale en/of ecologische impact die ze willen realiseren. Deze impact is hun bestaansreden, hun kompas en hun zuurstof. Voor smaakmakers en inspirerende voorbeelden kan men snuisteren op het platform BE-impact of op de websites van werkgeversfederaties zoals UNISOC en VERSO of van de Sociale InnovatieFabriek.

Keep calm and follow the money. Sociale ondernemers bestaan in maten en soorten. Ze werken meestal op basis van een mix van middelen om hun maatschappelijke impact te kunnen realiseren. Een deel van de middelen komt van buiten de “markt”, zoals overheidssubsidies, schenkingen, crowdfunding, sponsoring. Een ander deel halen ze op in de markt: ze verkopen goederen of diensten tegen een marktconforme vergoeding. Deze hybride bedrijfsfinanciering – een mix van middelen inzetten – is ook niet het uniek territorium van sociale ondernemingen. Verschillende corporates tappen immers ook geregeld en gretig uit het kraantje van overheidssubsidies.

Keep calm: de vzw ís een onderneming. ‘Organisatoren bij vzw’s zijn geen ondernemers en moeten niet handelen als ondernemers’. Dat is de hardnekkige mythe die we de voorbije weken meermaals hebben gelezen naar aanleiding van de geruchtenmolen rond LGU Academy. Sinds 2018 kwalificeert het “ondernemingsrecht” vzw’s juridisch nochtans letterlijk als “onderneming”. Gaat het fout, dan zijn ze bv ook onderworpen aan het insolventierecht. En sinds 2019 en het nieuwe Wetboek van vennootschappen en verenigingen, gelden voor vzw’s vele werkingsregels gelijkaardig aan die van vennootschappen. Veel meer nog dan gewone bedrijven, komt daar nog heel vaak een strenge sectorreglementering bij die vraagt dat vzw’s de besteding van elke euro subsidie verantwoorden. Organisatoren in vzw’s die ondernemend handelen, zijn geen marginale groep. Op ondernemende wijze pakken tal van vzw’s maatschappelijke problemen aan of proberen ze de excessen van onze levensstijl op te lossen met sociale innovatie. Wettelijk moeten ze zich, zoals alle ondernemingen, aan de regelgeving conformeren.

Keep calm and trust the law. De vzw-structuur, zoals die van de stichting, waarborgt het maatschappelijk uitgangspunt in beginsel maximaal: de wet vereist een “belangeloos doel” en ze verbiedt en sanctioneert de “rechtstreekse en onrechtstreekse uitkering van vermogensvoordelen aan de leden”.  Er zijn dus geen aandeelhouders die op dividenden mogen hopen. Deze wettelijke “vermogensklem” in de vzw-vorm garandeert in beginsel aan de begunstigden (gebruikers, patiënten, doelgroepen…) dat er niet bespaard wordt op de kwaliteit en de realisatie van de diensten in zorg, welzijn, maatwerk, sociale economie, ontwikkelingssamenwerking,…. Dat is uiteraard ook de reden waarom subsidiërende overheden de vele opdrachten van onze welvaartstaat vaak uitbesteden aan vzw’s. En ook de reden waarom schenkers en sponsors de vzw verkiezen.

Keep calm and check the governance. Wie de boel wil belazeren, kan dat natuurlijk altijd proberen. Met belangenvermenging, gecamoufleerde uitkeringen, abnormale vergoedingen, papieren mandaten, greenwashing en window dressing… Niet alleen in een vzw, ook in een vennootschap of overheidsbedrijf, is de zuiverheid van de intenties de leidraad voor goed ondernemerschap. Geen wet is opgewassen tegen de foefelaars of sjoemelaars. Alleen geldt bij alle ondernemingen, vzw’s of vennootschappen, dat een raad van bestuur die zijn rol goed opneemt, daar toch een oogje in het zeil kan houden.  Goed bestuur, ook in vzw’s waar grote budgetten in omgaan, is geen hol concept à la mode.  De samenstelling van en de dynamiek tussen bestuursorgaan en operationeel team, de decumul van rollen & opdrachten, een duidelijke en strenge belangenconflictenregeling, de checks & balances met duidelijke delegaties,.. het zijn technieken voor rekenschap & verantwoording over de effectieve en optimale verwezenlijking van de sociale impact. Social governance, of corporate governance voor vzw’s is wellicht nog crucialer in vzw’s dan in vennootschappen waar aandeelhouders ultiem altijd een persoonlijk financieel belang hebben om goed bestuur op te leggen.

Keep calm and check the impact ! Of ze nu een solo-vzw, een vzw in hybride opstelling met een vennootschap, of een coöperatieve vennootschap zijn: de enige relevante vraag is of sociale ondernemers werkelijk hun missie en dus maatschappelijke impact realiseren. Een goede impactmeting en transparantie over de resultaten kunnen veel misvattingen vermijden.  Met impact als hun bestaansreden zijn sociale ondernemers het aan zichzelf verplicht voldoende stil te staan bij de mate waarin ze effectief ook impact realiseren. Ze steken hun nek uit als pioniers, blijven duwen op maatschappelijke verbetering, vaak tegen de mainstream in, en sturen bij waar markt of overheid te kort schieten. Op ondernemende wijze positieve impact genereren voor mens, milieu of samenleving: dat is waar sociaal ondernemerschap om gaat. Met de juiste intenties, een goede governance en transparantie over hun impact, kunnen we dat soort ondernemerschap nooit genoeg aanmoedigen.

Progetto Quid: scaling impact to foster inclusive employment

The day I met Anna, is the day my stubborn belief in people as changemakers got birth. Anna has become an icon to me and to the many people I’ve been telling about her. In case you didn’t hear me about Anna yet: this woman started a great social enterprise out of nothing. A mission and guts is what she used to get started. A 10 years ago, Anna was struck by the lack of circular solutions in fashion industry and by the lack of empowerment possibilities for vulnerable people. So she just started… she arranged herself a place to work, some sewing machines and she convinced some textile producers to give her their textile wastes. And voilà: Progetto Quid started an impactful journey that needs to be told. The world should know!

Today, Progetto Quid is an ethical and sustainable fashion brand that creates limited-edition collections of clothes and accessories. The team runs a workshop in Verona with 150 employees, recovering and regenerating otherwise wasted high-quality textiles from prestigious fashion brands. The beautiful collections are manufactured by people — mostly women — with vulnerable pasts, who find in Quid a new beginning.

Having guts and daring to involve stakeholders is definitely what brought Anna and her team so far. What do you do when you need a place to sell your clothes? You convince a brand to collaborate and to get a corner in their shops. Anna managed to set up a collaboration with Calzedonia, so that in the beginning, they got a corner in Calzedonia shops or could hire space in a vacant Calzedonia store. Now, Progetto Quid has several own stores. In Italy, customers still prefer buying in person. In lockdown the webshop suddenly became overloaded because of the face masks (nice to know: the Belgian social enterprise Rising You ordered 5.000 face masks and sells them in a 1-to-1 formula: for each face mask sold, they give a free face mask to a refugee).

While gaining more maturity as a business, everything got designed around a circular impact programme. Quid takes it seriously. First of all, it is about empowering people. Progetto Quid for instance hired and trained 8 victims of human trafficking, working with them on their creative expression and re-building and strengthening their own identity and confidence.

The ultimate goal of Progetto Quid is to re-design the social landscape in Italy; to make tradition (what fashion is about) a tool for positive change. As Valeria Valotto, staff member at Quid, explains: “Fashion does not only change people but it also changes the world. The way we deal with fashion affects culture a lot. In Northern Italy a lot of people from previous generations were working in fashion related sectors: production of textiles, garmenting,… my grandfather for example worked in a mill for silk production”  “The idea is to foster a culture for inclusive employment. We want to change the fashion industry and show that like other entrepreneurs we can turn limits into starting points. Our fashion starts where it ends for others (textile waste)”

When I asked Valeria about how they increase their impact, she immediately came up with a variety in strategies.

At first, there are several UPSCALING strategies: more sales, more employees… While scaling up, there is always attention for increasing the impact. Valeria: “We measure our impact by assessing the improvement of the life quality of the employees. 75% of the employees is interviewed every year and results of these interviews are used to re-design and improve the social and training programmes. Progetto Quid exists because of the impact it wants to have, so this way of steering on impact is key to us”

The B-to-B collaborations are also considered to be very important. Valeria: “Quid makes ethical supplies for other businesses. Sometimes this collaboration is for marketing reasons (social washing…), sometimes a personal reason (e.g. a manager that has an orphanage background).” Valeria tells me that she often reveils that there is a personal link with disability, exclusion,… that drives managers to a collaboration with their social enterprise. Valeria calls it ‘the empathy link’ and tells me how beautiful it is what empathy makes you do: “the border between empathy and selfishness is thin”

Quid also works with the CEO’s and production managers in fashion industry and experiences how they get contaminated. Valeria: “We believe that we make them think different about their processes”. These kind of partnerships are very often designed in ‘article 14’, an Italian legal device that fosters inclusive employment. Companies from a certain size have to hire an amount of disabled people. Upto 30% of their disability quota can be contracted to a social enterprise. For instance, Calzedonia is the factual employer of 20 progetto Quid team members with disabilities.

While building all this experience and gaining all these insights, Quid considers knowledge sharing to be very important. Valeria: “We work with schools, we host a 15 company visits per year, we give talks in companies and universities and we support students who work on sustainable fashion”. Quid even dedicated an outreach officer to these topics. Also in other ways, Quid is an inspiring example of how to SCALE OUT (making your impact transferrable). Quid wants to help other social enterprises to build their impact faster by being able to rely on tools that Quid developed. Quid is also working on knowledge sharing workshops for managers in the profit sector looking for ways to work on inclusion, e.g. building another attitude towards inclusion.

Dear people: let’s all have faith and let’s spread faith. It is possible to change the world for the better. Become an ‘Anna’ or a ‘Valeria’ too: go for your mission, stick to your impact and dare to increase this impact.

And next time, I will tell you about the wonderful Soraya Wancour, founder of Studio AMA and definitely the social circular pioneer in the Belgian fashion industry.

Robinetto: scaling impact to make tap water the obvious choice

With increasing astonishment I observed the hoarders when lockdown started: toilet paper, pasta, flour and water. Waaaaaater? Who buys bottled water and then drags it to a house where good drinking water flows from the tap?? This really goes beyond my mind. Unfortunately, my astonishment doesn’t seem to be shared by many. In Belgium, we drink more than 1.4 billion litres of bottled water and the same quantity of soft drinks per year. All this not only has to be packaged, but also transported and stored. Trucks drive millions of kilometres to transport all these bottles. After use, we are left with a pile of waste and a gigantic amount of CO2 emissions.

Tackling this absurd waste and pollution is exactly Robinetto’s mission. Robinetto is a Belgian based social enterprise offering water dispensers for the hospitality industry, offices, households and events. By linking these water taps to syrups, Robinetto can also provide sustainable soft drinks.

In a meeting with Jeroen Vereecke, founder of Robinetto, Jeroen explains how he and his companions strive to make tap water the default for drinks. Robinetto is committed to switching from bottled drinks to ‘tap’ drinks: both making tap water the default of drinking water, and changing the soft drinks market by focusing more on the mix of syrups and tap water. Whereas Robinetto initially focused mainly on festivals and large events, they soon spread their offer to pubs, offices and, a few months ago, Robinetto also moved into the households. With their solutions they reduce the number of kilometres driven, the amount of energy and above all: the amount of plastic waste.

Although on the one hand I listen optimistically to the impact that Robinetto has already achieved, on the other hand my astonishment about the dragging out of bottled drinks gets an extra knack when Jeroen tells me that the Belgians are in fourth place worldwide in terms of bottled water consumption. We drink an average of 130 litres of bottled water per year! Unk? Only the Italians, Germans and Americans are ahead of us. And yet our tap water is of such high quality. (Swedes, for example, drink an average of 10 litres of bottled water a year. Why can’t we)

This brings us to the key question: what, according to Jeroen, is needed to encourage people to marginalise the proportion of bottled water and bottled soft drinks? Why is it that so much bottled water is still being bought? Jeroen: “The tap water is super safe here, but it has the perception against it.”

When changing mindset and legislation are key levers

Robinetto is committed to changing our mindset about drinks. This focus on the mindset is a good example of SCALING DEEP: as a social enterprise, they go a lot further than just selling products; they also focus on influencing beliefs. Various strategies are being explored in this regard. Jeroen: “Parallel to working on the perception of tap water, there is the fight against disposable packaging. We want to help getting rid of the single-use plastic. In this respect, too, we are betting on scaling deep”. In his former job in the events sector, Jeroen knew how to weigh up regulations. As a result of his lobbying-with-a-cause, disposable cups are now banned at many events. “It is undeniable that responding to legislation is an important lever. If something becomes a rule, then people have no other choice than making this switch and they will find that it works well for them too”. What insights does Jeroen have about lobbying in particular? “It is important to first show that the alternative is realistic. By setting an example yourself, you show that it can be done differently. We for instance started on Boomtown festival with the banning of disposable cups, then we went to the local government with the suggestion to make this compulsory for all events in the city of Ghent. As soon as it was compulsory in Ghent (2018), we went to other festival organisers to jointly advocate the policy on higher level. In the meantime, this has been incorporated into regional legislation. Very specifically, we started giving arguments to people who directly advise policy makers. Admittedly, it is a lot of pulling and dragging, but suddenly it happens and then the whole preparation absolutely pays off. Changed legislation can be a very strong catalyst to achieve your intended impact.”

Jeroen hopes to achieve the same impact about bottled drinks. Responding to changes in perception and behaviour is also done through the hospitality industry: “The fact that we are against free tap water in catering establishments is often surprising”. Robinetto believes that offering tap water free of charge sends out the wrong message: that tap water would be inferior to bottled water. The solution Jeroen sees is: oblige everyone who sells bottled water to also offer a package-free alternative. “We should not underestimate the lobby of the bottled water industry behind the idea that tap water in the catering industry should be free of charge. It is in their interests that consumers consider this water to be inferior. In order to change the perception, a highly rated restaurant that puts tap water fully on the menu will have a greater effect than yet another campaign.”

All aboard for the water revolution

Robinetto invests in the network of regular businesses too, as companies are an interesting place to tell Robinetto’s story. The more companies install a watertap, the more employees will adjust their perception of drinking tap water, the greater the impact… Aswell, Robinetto is committed to scaling deep by being eagerly advocated as good practice by lobbyists of all kinds: others may use the case in the fight for a water transition. But, says Jeroen: “As a social entrepreneur, I certainly put time into lobbying, I can see that this helps to increase our impact, but in the meantime we also have to get our business going. There is not always a lot of time to work on the bigger picture. Our enterprise needs solidity.”  Jeroen chose to let impact and business go jointly together. Yet he notices that he has to keep hammering away at it: that impact and business can really go hand in hand.

A few months ago, Robinetto launched a B2C offer. Not only to be able to make more turnover, but above all to be able to respond to another factor that makes people buy bottled water: the appreciation of taste. After all, it can be clearly stated that tap water is safe, the appreciation of taste also has a role. Some people just don’t like tap water. Robinetto therefore decided to convince consumers through their water filters and home appliances.  “Actually, we are market crashers in the water tap market,” says Jeroen. “We want to sell as many water taps as possible; others want to be able to sell them as expensive as possible. By entering the B2C water tap market with lower prices, we are also going to influence the pricing of other water tap suppliers, and that’s good. The more water taps people buy – and then it really doesn’t matter from whom – the better”.  The more people can be included in the water transition, the better. For the same reason, Robinetto also allows the impact to grow via SCALING OUT (to make impact transferable): they are super open about everything. Robinetto shares knowledge with other social entrepreneurs, such as the start-up Dripl. Others who want to do something similar will always get advice from Robinetto. Furthermore, Jeroen is convinced that if things are going well in Belgium, it might be interesting to give actors in other countries the information so that they too can get started with this solution. That impact takes precedence over business is also evident from the tips they give to the catering industry with a beer tap. Robinetto advises how they can simply convert this into a water tap. “Above all, we are not going to give the impression that it is difficult”.

The case Robinetto works on is so important and has a massive impact. I can therefore only hope that Robinetto, with their various strategies, will succeed in reducing the consumption of packaged drinks. We urgently need to make this transition and leave the absurdity behind us. No more dragging and driving around with water!

Wij zijn geen eerste-horde kampeerders

Vandaag mocht ik het Innovatiecafé met de ronkende titel ‘Doing The Impossible’ modereren. Wat gebeurt er als je vier ‘impossibles’ aan een publiek serveert : een kramp in de hand door het neerpennen van de vele treffende uitspraken!

Koen De Vidts, bestuurder van NewB vertelde bevlogen over hoe een ethische coöperatieve bank tot leven kwam. Alle hordes die ze genomen hebben om er tóch te geraken. Het beeld van de man die bij de eerste horde blijft kamperen sprak tot m’n verbeelding. Impossibles blijven vooral niet bij die eerste horde zitten. Ze beginnen te springen en springen opnieuw en opnieuw en opnieuw. ‘Laat je niet afleiden door de mensen die aan de kant blijven staan’ raadt Koen ons aan en ‘neem horde per horde; zelfs al geraak je niet meteen aan het eind, elke horde heeft impact’.

Koen kreeg meteen bijval van de andere ‘impossibles’ Jeroen Vereecke van Robinetto, Hanne Deneire van Muziek en Dementie en Ad Geudens van Parlangi. ‘Verandering komt er niet zonder initiatief.’ Vaak is dit initiatief ontstaan vanuit een zekere verontwaardiging met een bestaande praktijk: hoezo, we sleuren liters en liters verpakt water naar onze huizen en kantoren terwijl er prima water uit de kraan komt (Robinetto weet raad), hoezo, we geven mensen met dementie nog gauw wat extra pilletjes zodat ze rustig zijn in plaats van hen via muziek in verbinding te brengen (Muziek en Dementie weet raad) en hoezo, we laten kansen liggen om verbinding te leggen tussen generaties (Parlangi legt deze mooie link om te helpen taal te verwerven). Herkenning was er ook dat je soms als een schijnbaar kleine nieuwkomer in de praktijk heel wat zaken in beweging kan brengen: het systeem veranderen begint bij diegenen die er durven aan porren. En zij die porren nemen vaak ook een heel gevarieerd netwerk mee in hun verhaal. Want samen bereik je nu eenmaal meer.

Mijn take aways van deze sessie waren alvast: koppig zijn helpt, neem horde per horde, vier elke stap en durf een motor te zijn voor grotere impact.

Internationaal schalen: vergt tijd én lef.

“Hier spreekt ervaring!” sprak een stemmetje in m’n hoofd toen ik afgelopen vrijdag aan de salontafel zat van Bob Elsen, oprichter van Joker Reizen en de ViaVia reiscafés. In een webinar onder de titel ‘Impact International’ kluisterden 16 impact ondernemers zich virtueel mee aan Bob z’n lippen en leerden we van hem hoe hij sinds de jaren ’70 timmert aan een internationale impact organisatie. Marleen en Xanne van Impact Advocaten gaven extra kader over de juridische aspecten van internationaal schalen: hoe begin je eraan, waarop te letten en vooral: “durf! De wereld heeft baat bij impact ondernemers” Vanuit de aanwezige sociaal ondernemers werd er vervolgens ook heel wat wijsheid in de groep gegooid. Didier Appels en Gert Van Veldhuisen vertelden bv. over hoe zij met Close The Gap de werking in verschillende Afrikaanse landen hebben weten uit te bouwen en hoe ook zij de combinatie maken tussen eigen inkomsten, inbreng van investeerders en subsidies. Hybrid is the future!

Enkele ‘key take aways’ uit de wervelende twee uur:

  • Durf organisch te groeien en besef dat het tijd vergt
  • Op een gegeven moment krijg je kansen. Je neemt die of je neemt die niet. Geduld en lef zijn even essentieel
  • “Het geheel groeit organisch. De werkingsstructuur is vergelijkbaar met die van een jazzband, a coherent structure in non-equilibrium. Essentieel is de interactie, waarbij de samenhang verzekerd wordt door een klaar gedefinieerde missie.” dixit Bob
  • Vorm volgt inhoud. Zorg eerst dat duidelijk is welke impact je nastreeft en dat je normen en waarden helder zijn. Op een gegeven moment ga je het internationale luik formaliseren. Een doordachte bedrijfsstructuur is hierbij de stille kracht achter je onderneming. Een interessante formule hierbij – en toegepast door ViaVia- is een social franchising model
  • Soft skills zijn belangrijker dan ooit!
  • Overstijg het eurocentrisme
  • Maak er een punt van om samen successen te vieren

Bij het afsluitende rondje was er grote eensgezindheid dat het aspect van ‘je moet het tijd geven’ erg herkenbaar was. Verder merkte iemand op hoe bijzonder het is dat Bob zich na al die decennia nog steeds een start-up ondernemer voelt. Ja: vanuit impactperspectief bekeken vergt internationaal schalen steeds die unieke drive van je nek uitsteken, aftasten, uitproberen, bijsturen,…en vooral veel impact maken.

Book launch ‘Leaving a Legacy’

Thrilled to invite you all to our book launch!!

die Keure Publishing, Ashoka Belgium and Impact House join forces for the launch of ‘Leaving a Legacy, Increase your social impact’, that I wrote together with Omar Mohout.

On the 18th of June, 4.00 pm – 5.15 pm CET, a vibrant webinar moderated by Anika Horn, will bring you an introduction by Perinne De Le Court and Piet Colruyt (Ashoka and Impact House) about the importance of system change and collaboration; inspiration and insights about how to leave a legacy by the authors Kaat Peeters and Omar Mohout and testimonials of two legacy makers: Benjamin Gerard (Rising You-on his way to better the lives of refugees) and Didier Pierre (Nnof -on his way to make circular economy the norm).

Get carried away by the impact point of view and discover how you can grow the impact of your organisation too. Subscribe to this free webinar. Participants will be offered a unique reduction fee for the book/e-book.

The art of combining different scaling strategies

This morning, I could inspire the participants of the Ashoka Impact Programme 2020 about how to scale impact. What a great group of social entrepreneurs who are crafting innovative circular models and impactful solutions to build a sustainable future! 

I presented the preview of the legacy canvas, part of our book in publication “Leaving a Legacy”. With this tool, organisations can explore and combine different scaling strategies: scale up, scale deep, scale out and scale down. How great it was to hear from participants that bringing together these different strategies in a canvas is really helpful. “Having a canvas that shows out that even scaling down can be a wise way to increase your impact will help to convince stakeholders that it’s not all about capacity building” was a feedback I loved to hear.

Also curious about the different scaling strategies? Check my article that has been published by the European Social Innovation Academy

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

From the Venture point of view to the Impact point of view

Thanks Nate Wong for his great article in #Stanford Social Innovation Review. Very recognizable. Too often, the venture model dominates how impact driven organisations are ‘rated’. Let’s start to use the impact point of view! Especially when it comes to #growth jury members should take in mind that growing impact doesn’t always require capacity building. When an impact maker starts a movement, gets his/her solution replicated, does great advocacy work, acts exemplary,… the impact might be much bigger #scaledeep #scaleout