FMS Fellow Feature: Megan Vose

FMS taught me great techniques and frameworks for thinking through our challenges as we grow and has enabled me to employ more creative models for success.”

MeganVoseMegan Vose is a Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) Alumna, recent Middlebury Institute graduate and social entrepreneur who participated in the FMS  2016 Monterey Certificate Training. She is returning to Panama to manage her business, El Motete, with her best friend and business partner, Will Riddlehoover who served with Megan in Peace Corps. She tells us more about her FMS experience and El Motete’s impact:

 

Why did you join FMS?

Moving into a growing business environment that is becoming more socially conscious in Panama, I knew it would be a great opportunity to apply FMS skills to our business and further expand our network of people that could possibly support us as we grow.

What was your biggest takeaway from FMS?

Networking: I met incredible and creative people. It was also really eye-opening to learn about how vast the space still is, and how much there is still room for growth and involvement. I enjoyed learning about the key players and the people who are really building the space in very unique and interesting ways.

Tell us about your current work

I am co-founder of El Motete, a specialty grocery store located in Panama City, carrying 100% locally-made and locally-grown products. We carry items such as fresh produce, value-added products, and artisanal goods all made by local producers that we work with through a direct producer-to-market supply chain. We launched in March of 2016 and are excited to be expanding our customer base in the city.

As Peace Corps Volunteers in Panama, Will and I realized that the greatest barrier to access for small-scale producers was access to retail markets. As we noticed a growing culture of not only food-conscious but also socially-minded and progressive food-based businesses opening in Panama, we saw a great opportunity to bridge the gap between rural communities and the city by giving them a space in El Motete to share their products and their stories, spreading the value of buying local.

What were some of the greatest challenges that you faced launching your business?

Financing was challenging, but we were fortunate enough to reach our goals through a successful Indiegogo campaign and with some money from our own pockets. It was a lot of work, but we were able to start without being indebted to anyone, and that gave us a great foundation for growth. Another challenge was navigating the legal and bureaucratic framework of starting a business in a foreign country. With the help of friends and fellow business-owners in the city, as well as our amazing lawyer, we continue working through these challenges. Support, patience and an open mind have been key to our perseverance and we are excited for the new challenges as we continue to strengthen the presence of small producers in Panama City.

What does impact mean to El Motete?

The whole basis of our business is to build a system that has a positive and sustainable impact to small-scale producers outside of Panama City. These are the individuals that we met and worked with in Peace Corps and they are the motivation for everything that we do. We’ve been very busy and have had great success in our first two months since opening. We realize that first and foremost we need to build a lucrative and sustainable business in order to best support our mission moving forward and this is our focus today. From there we will be able to impact more and more small-scale producers and hopefully continue to encourage buying local.

How are you using the skills you learned in FMS?

The tools I learned in FMS have helped me think about ways of moving forward to ensure that we stay true to our current mission. It taught me great techniques and frameworks for thinking through our challenges as we grow and has enabled me to employ more creative models for success. I’d highly recommend FMS to anyone working in this space.

What are your top three tips for those looking to start an impact career?

  • Follow your passion
  • Take risks
  • Value the relationships and networks around you!

 

Follow El Motete:  Website  Facebook  Instagram

 

The Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) program seeks purpose-driven professionals to join its award-winning social enterprise management and impact investing certificate trainings in Monterey, California (June 6-17, 2016), and Washington, DC (Winter 2017). Founded in 2011, FMS has trained more than 300 professionals since its inception. FMS received a 2013 Cordes Innovation Award from AshokaU and has now become the flagship program of the newly launched Center for Social Impact Learning at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

Partner Profile: Altruist Partners

“When you give a non-profit the right entrepreneurial tools and growth strategies, that non-profit can become incredibly powerful”

DonaldSummers

 

We are excited to share this feature of Donald Summers, Founder and Managing Director of Altruist Partners in Seattle, Washington. Altruist Partners recently became a Frontier Market Scouts partner organization and fellows from future cohorts will have the opportunity to help support their work with clients around the world. Donald tells us about Altruist Partners and the new partnership with FMS:

 

Tell us about Altruist Partners

Altruist Partners was founded in 2006 to transform non-profits into powerful social enterprises. Generally speaking, non-profits aren’t aware of the management and financial tools and strategies that have long driven organizational performance and growth. Non-profit leaders are idealists and programmatic specialists, not business or management experts. So their organizations struggle with funding and performance. Consider that are over 2 million non-profits in the US alone. Most are tiny–$500K is the average annual budget—but the problems they are addressing are huge. Fewer than a handful have scaled past $50 million in the last 50 years. But 70,000 for-profits have. So we asked, what do the for profits know that the nonprofits don’t? What’s applicable, and what isn’t? And we set about to close that performance gap. Because if we can figure out a common platform to help nonprofits scale, to bring together the best tools from both sectors, there’s an incredible about of good that can be captured. So after a decade of work with over 100 nonprofits of every size and shape, and lots of mistakes, we’ve arrived at a system that’s delivering very encouraging and consistent results. Our nonprofit clients are growing 25% a year. Now we have the job to reach scale ourselves and serve the many thousands of good organizations that need this help.

How does the process work?

First of all, we aren’t consultants—we are business partners, and we join out clients as part-time executives. We are player-coaches, if you will. We start by measuring the client’s business performance with a very targeted assessment tool. And then, over the course of 6 to 12 months, we guide our clients through a step-by-step process that embeds three essential management features:

  1. The Business Plan: This is very different from the strategic plans that non-profits usually work with. A business plan is very short and specific. It details the problem being solved, the proof the organization can solve it, and a concrete, exciting vision of success. Then we detail strategy, metrics, milestones, staffing, and a complete financial projection, with a hard focus on revenue. It has to be good enough inspire confidence in a finicky and impatient investor.
  2. The Revenue Pipeline: We don’t do “fundraising,” “development” or even “advancement” or “capital campaigns.” Those concepts and practices are outdated and largely ineffective. Instead, we provide our clients a step-by-step process to building and staffing a revenue development engine, based on an approach we call “Investments and Partnerships.” From recruiting and hiring staff to detailing strategy to organizing the meetings, we set up an entire office to generate revenue from individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies. And we consider earned income as well, including things like intellectual property and fee-for-service. And we are excited to move aggressively into the impact capital markets. Most nonprofits suffer from a poverty mindset, but the truth is, if they have a valuable program, there are billions of dollars our there. We’re proving it.
  3. The Dashboard: After a client has a business plan and an Investment & Partnership pipeline, we bring it all together with an executive dashboard, a 1-page report that captures the organization’s key performance indicators. Every month, it gives the board and staff an exact picture of everything important. Knowing what to include and what not to include is critical. Too many nonprofits are drowning in data and they lack focus and discipline around the truly important stuff. We help fix that.

High-performing organizations use these elements, whether they are for-profit, non-profit, L3Cs, Social Purpose Corporation, Certified B-Corp, whatever. Your tax status is irrelevant. And importantly, it’s an interdependent system. The Plan fuels the Pipeline, and the Dashboard ensures everything is executed well. Leave one piece out, and the org remains stuck.

Can you tell us more about a specific organization that Altruist has helped?

Treehouse is our favorite example. They work here in Washington state to help foster children graduate from high school. In Washington, like other parts of the country, the foster youth high school graduation rate is only 40%. Compare that to 80% for kids in general and you start to see the problem. These high dropout rates lead to lives with very high rates of homelessness, incarceration, self harm, illness, and even suicide. Treehouse recognizes that the foster children aren’t at fault. It’s the system that doesn’t support them. So they hired us in 2012. They had 75 staff in 25 schools working with 200 foster students, but they couldn’t get that 40% graduation rate needle to move. And they wanted to help all 800 foster youth in middle and high kids in the entire city. So we went in and, 9 months later, we had a new business plan and program model, a new fundraising platform, and a 1-page dashboard. Their donors responded very well to the ambitious vision and the tight plan. In the first 6 months alone, they raised about $7 million, and 4 years later, Treehouse has 150 staff working in 125 schools and serving over 700 students. The long-term high school graduation rate is now at 78% and they are reaching every 6 through 12th grader in the metropolitan area. It’s the most successful educational support program for foster kids in the country, and we are now helping them expand state wide.

Today we are working around the world with a set of ambitious and high performing nonprofits, most of whom prefer to think of themselves as “social enterprises,” a much more powerful and accurate term. We’re proud to be working with them. It’s exciting to help drive the leading edge of the change the sector needs so badly.

Why did Altruist choose to partner with FMS?

I met one of your Frontier Market Scouts at the Skoll World Forum and was immediately impressed with her description of your work. I am a Middlebury grad and social entrepreneur, so there’s obvious fit. So I’m excited about the Center for Social Impact Learning and the Frontier Market Scouts which is helping to grow the sector by equipping passionate individuals with the necessary skills to make a significant impact. And we need the help—we are accelerating social enterprises around the world, and Frontier Market Scouts is a perfect place to find the talent our clients need. We are excited to onboard FMS fellows from future cohorts who can work with our global partners. These are brilliant people with enlightened values.

What is on the horizon for Altruist?

We are working hard to produce an online version of our process, one that we can deliver thousands of nonprofits simultaneously. We are in beta testing now, but if the online version delivers even a fraction of the benefits our process has delivered in person, we have exciting potential to transform the performance of the entire social sector. Our goal is to be the largest business partner for non-profits worldwide.

Contact Altruist

The Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) program seeks purpose-driven professionals to join its award-winning social enterprise management and impact investing certificate trainings in Monterey, California (June 6-17, 2016), and Washington, DC (Winter 2017). Founded in 2011, FMS has trained more than 300 professionals since its inception. FMS received a 2013 Cordes Innovation Award from AshokaU and has now become the flagship program of the newly launched Center for Social Impact Learning at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. If you are interested in becoming an FMS partner organization, contact fmspartners@miis.edu.

Fellow Feature: Sarah Sterling

“Having an Impact Officer shows our commitment to impact. Social Entrepreneurs really do want to make a difference, so they are creating new systems in an effort to track data and set benchmarks and goals.”

Sarah
Sarah Sterling
is an FMS Alumna (and MIIS MPA alumna) who participated in our 2015 Amsterdam Training. Her current FMS fellowship is with Pomona Impact in Antigua, Guatemala where she works as the Social Impact Metrics Officer. She has found her home there, working out of the Impact Hub, and indulges in her passion for impact as she attends conferences around the world. She worked for the Center for Social Impact Learning (CSIL) while studying at the Middlebury Institute and will be joining us in June for the first FMS Hard Skills Clinic. We are excited to share her updates from Antigua:

Why did you join FMS?

As a student at the Middlebury Institute in Monterey and working with CSIL, I constantly heard great things about the FMS program and knew that it was a perfect launchpad for a career in impact post-graduation. I planned to take FMS training right before graduating with my Masters in Public Administration so that I could start a fellowship right away, and it worked out perfectly. I gained incredibly valuable skills, enhanced my network and made connections I wouldn’t have otherwise. Today I am working in a dream city with amazing co-workers doing very rewarding work. Joining FMS was a great decision and I couldn’t be happier.

What was your biggest takeaway from FMS?

FMS is a really amazing opportunity, not only to have a very supportive and diverse environment for those wanting to be exposed for the first time to social enterprise and impact investing, but also for experienced professionals coming from other spaces and who may have exposure but want to fully pivot into the impact space and find deeper connections in the network. It can be intimidating to take a course as a professional student in something that you don’t have background in. Learning about investment in general is intimidating to most of us. FMS was a great introductory course and a space where I felt comfortable asking questions that I may have been too intimidated to ask if I were in a room full of seasoned investors. I was able to gain much more knowledge this way and I’m grateful for that. With such a diverse cohort of participants, you find yourself learning much more than you expected, because you are not only learning from the instructors, but from your peers as well. In addition to that, the fellowship option is of course extremely valuable. It helps fellows develop professionally and really put that introductory knowledge and the newer skills to use in an important way.

Tell us about Pomona Impact and your current position

Pomona Impact was founded in May 2011 and is based in Guatemala. It is an impact investing fund focusing on deploying capital for good and supporting social entrepreneurs in Central America. We’ve made 16 investments to date and our portfolio is growing. In my role as Social Impact Metrics Officer, I have helped create a system for Pomona to measure and evaluate the social impact of our investments. In order to do that, I interviewed a number of other companies that do similar work and have used a variety of different tools, such as Acumen Lean Data, to assess the metrics that our companies are already using to measure impact. From there, I’ve been creating a system that is very simple and focused on the impact that we want to see and how to measure that impact by collecting specific metrics. Many of our portfolio companies report with IRIS and so we in turn also often use IRIS.

What metrics is Pomona Impact using now?

We have three key metrics, which I call umbrella metrics. These are all from our perspective, to measure the impact that is created when we make investments in other companies:

  1. Number of Jobs Created
  2. Revenue Generated
  3. Number of Lives Touched (direct and indirect beneficiaries)

Do you see the role of Impact Officer becoming more common?

For Pomona, having an Impact Officer shows our commitment to impact. It helps our portfolio companies also see the importance of tracking and monitoring data. While other companies have begun to focus on social impact for marketing purposes, social enterprises naturally put impact as a top priority. Social entrepreneurs really do want to make a difference, which is why they are creating new systems in an effort to track data and set benchmarks and goals. I am starting to see these roles more and more and I highly encourage enterprises to embrace this position. Where monitoring and evaluation is crucial in the nonprofit space, impact measurement should be expected in the social impact space. Having a dedicated role for that purpose will greatly benefit a company and allows for real insight and honest conversations about the actual impact that is achieved.

What are your next steps?

My fellowship ends in the coming months, but I have been hired for the next year with Pomona, which I’m really excited about. I absolutely love it here and intend to stay in Antigua long-term if it works out. The measurement system that I work on is constantly updating, so I continue to focus on that. I’m also working on our annual report, which will be tracking data from 2011 when we were founded. I have been talking to our early portfolio companies and gathering impact data from them to combine with our current company data. We hope to release the annual report this May.

What are your top three tips for those looking to start an impact career?

Join FMS and network intentionally. Participating in the FMS training and fellowship opportunity are the best direct ways to launch an impact career. Many of the fellowships turn into long-term contracts and you’re sure to be working in an exciting location. Also, make a point of network with intention and putting your interests or needs out there so that others can lead you in the right direction. Be sure to connect others and help them find their path as well, because networking is always a give and take.

Be flexible and a self-starter. Take initiative in your positions and in the fellowship instead of waiting for someone to give you tasks. Lead a variety of different projects if you have the option. This way you are capable outside of the title you are assigned and you’re creating value both for yourself and your company.

Keep an open mind.  Even if you are new to this sector and especially after taking FMS, you do have a lot of skills to offer. If you are willing to learn and intentional about learning and creating impact, then you will go far. Everyone will be learning from one another in different ways, so don’t feel intimidated to ask questions and offer help to others where they may need it as well. No one knows everything about this space yet, even the “experts” aren’t experts.

 

Sarah Sterling  |  Social Impact Metrics Officer
Sarah has several years of work experience in Central America, serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador from 2010-2012, where she focused on rural education and small business development. She previously worked for the Center for Social Impact Learning at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey, and brings her skills in project development and management, impact metrics, fundraising, and outreach to her current FMS fellowship with Pomona Impact. She has a BS from the University of Vermont and a MPA from the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey. 

Follow Pomona Impact:  Linkedin  Blog  Twitter

The Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) program seeks purpose-driven professionals to join its award-winning social enterprise management and impact investing certificate trainings in Monterey, California (June 6-17, 2016), and Washington, DC (Winter 2017). Founded in 2011, FMS has trained more than 300 professionals since its inception. FMS received a 2013 Cordes Innovation Award from AshokaU and has now become the flagship program of the newly launched Center for Social Impact Learning at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. The application deadline is April 29, 2016. Learn more and submit your application here.

Partner Profile: Fledge

“We work with a lot of young companies in the developing world. More and more of these companies are run by young entrepreneurs, and they need support from individuals with skills that FMS training provides.” 

Luni-150x150


We spoke with Luni Libes, the Founder and Managing Director of Fledge, the conscious company accelerator out of Seattle, Washington. Fledge is a new partner of the Frontier Market Scouts and will be looking for fellows from our current and future cohorts to work with the enterprises that Fledge accelerates, also known as fledglings. Luni tells us more about Fledge and the new partnership with FMS:

 

Tell us about Fledge

Fledge is a for-profit business accelerator focusing on impactful companies. Nearly all other accelerators working with socially conscious startups are non-profits, and this sets us apart in various ways. We are a mission-driven for-profit working with for-profit startups that have a strong environmental/social mission. We don’t discriminate based on sector or location and anyone who fits the description can apply. Although we receive hundreds of applications- more than 250 in this last season- we pick only seven. Each of the seven receives $20,000 and come to the Impact Hub in Seattle to work side-by-side for eight weeks.

How does the accelerator work?

We call our participants fledglings, and while they are in our accelerator, we enlist a lot of help from mentors. This was a model invented nine years ago from TechStars, one of the inventors of the modern business accelerator, and we’ve adapted their program for the impact space. Because we have so many companies together at the same time and in the same place, it becomes a draw for experienced professionals to share their time and to learn more about the companies. We currently have over 330 volunteer mentors and while they don’t all come at once, over the two months the teams are in Seattle, they collectfldgeively provide serious support to our entrepreneurs. The fledglings benefit from the wide range of expertise from mentors in various sectors. It’s very inspiring; we will often see mentors attach themselves to a specific team and continue to advise them regularly past the accelerator stage. For the mentors, it is a way to connect to early stage ventures and provides them with investment opportunities or otherwise, based on their interests.

How many companies have graduated from Fledge to date?

Fledge began four years ago and to date we have completed 6 sessions with a total of 52 graduates. All but six of those graduating companies are still in business and growing. Of those 52 companies, about half are from the U.S. half from other countries around the world, with over a dozen based in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Why did Fledge choose to partner with FMS?

We work with a lot of young companies in the developing world. More and more of these companies are run by young entrepreneurs, and they need support from individuals with skills that FMS training provides. We have mentors who work with the companies and who dedicate hours and hours of help, and this is fundamental to our accelerator process. We know our companies will benefit a great deal from fellows who can dedicate months once the companies have finished the accelerator. We’re excited for the partnership and to see the fellows in action.

What does impact mean to Fledge?fldge2

For us, our impact lies in helping these companies succeed because we truly believe that the world is a better place if these companies exist. We take great care in choosing the company and assessing their missions. They are all working to solve very important issues in their city and country. We support them to help make that work possible and sustainable, and that is our impact.

What is on the horizon for Fledge?

FMS Fellows in country with our fledglings, for one!

Our next accelerator starts Monday, April 25th and runs through Friday, June 17th. We have seven teams coming from five countries: two from Uganda, two from Malawi, one from Tanzania, and one from the Philippines, plus one already based in Seattle. Moving forward, we plan to replicate the success of Fledge Seattle in other major world cities, one new city per year, as far and wide around the world as possible. With that goal in mind, if anyone is interested in bringing Fledge to their city, we welcome them to contact us.

 

The Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) program seeks purpose-driven professionals to join its award-winning social enterprise management and impact investing certificate trainings in Monterey, California (June 6-17, 2016), and Washington, DC (Winter 2017). Founded in 2011, FMS has trained more than 300 professionals since its inception. FMS received a 2013 Cordes Innovation Award from AshokaU and has now become the flagship program of the newly launched Center for Social Impact Learning at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. The early application deadline is April 29, 2016. Learn more and submit your application here.

Feature Profile: Hunter Sebresos FMS 2015

Hunter & Woman 12-4-2013 copy“We’ve found that market penetration and cultural understanding are the biggest challenges, because it can make or break the entire venture, no matter how business savvy the team is.”

Hunter Sebresos (FMS ’15) is the Founder and Lead Designer of Concept Hunter, a growing consultancy focused on emerging market penetration. Hunter met his business partner Jeff Hicken while they were working in Kenya with MOTIIS, a market innovation team. Jeff is now Director of Business Development and Strategy at Concept Hunter. At MOTIIS, Hunter and Jeff researched markets and had the opportunity to participate in the creation of Bamba Water. Working in Kenya was the turning point for Hunter, where he was able to directly apply his traditional design education in the impact market. Right out of Kenya, he applied to FMS. Hunter and Jeff connect with us on their current work in the impact space-including a free e-book which teaches how to successfully penetrate a market by building an effective brand, marketing plan, and sales team. You can pre-order now for the June 2016 release.

Hunter, why did you decide to join FMS?

I wanted to legitimize my experience in Kenya and was attracted to the certificate because it focused on impact. I also wanted to make connections and meet others who were interested in the space and it was highly recommended by another member of the MOTIIS innovation team, Kevin Lehr, an FMS Alum. I knew that the training would give me a good overview of social enterprise and impact investing. Now, I feel like I can really speak to the two sectors whereas before, even though I was working in the space, I wasn’t as knowledgeable. Thanks to the FMS training, I am confident in my understanding of the key concepts in the social impact sector as well as the skills that I can contribute.

What was your biggest takeaway from FMS?IMG_5746

The due diligence training was extremely useful. Learning how a good investment deal is structured has informed many of my decisions since the training. Now, when we look at potential clients with Concept Hunter, we also go through aspects of the due diligence process. This helps us assess what stage the clients are in with their project and how we can best help them. It’s surprising how many companies turn a blind eye to this process and how useful it can be across the board.

What is Concept Hunter focusing on today?

After FMS, we connected about some of the challenges we see in the impact space. Through our experience working in Social Enterprise, we have observed that companies struggle with two debilitating problems in particular. The two problems are (1) attracting investment capital and (2) penetrating markets through effective branding, marketing, and sales. The investment capital problem is overwhelming, however, we believe we can help solve the market penetration problem for social ventures. Not only that, but we believe effective market penetration will help them attract investment capital. Think about it, we haven’t seen a Facebook or a Twitter in the Social Enterprise industry. Once we see one or two Facebook-like companies emerge from Social Enterprise, that is when we will also see serious investment capital flood for these ventures.

Today, Concept Hunter helps clients build a powerful brand, marketing plan, and sales team to penetrate emerging markets and generate high returns. We specifically focus on the following:

  • How clients can find a brand that will be adopted and spread in the culture they are addressing.
  • How to market in a way that will resonate with the local culture and communities.
  • How to create sales teams that actually drive results, also paying attention to the local culture.

The one thing we find to be absolutely crucial to a venture’s success is to have an understanding of the local culture and to know which aspects are challenges and which are opportunities. We call these opportunities “anchors” and they allow for a solid foundation upon which the company can prosper. The reality is, when it comes to business, it is REALLY difficult to work upstream against culture. Culture must be taken into account and Concept Hunter works to identify ways that companies can incorporate cultural factors into their market penetration strategies to ensure greater success.

IMG_3155Even for teams who are already on the ground and who already have their services or products in use, crucial mistakes can be made when it comes to market penetration that will compromise the health of the venture. With help from MOTIIS, Bamba Water went from selling 3,000 units daily to now selling 90,000 units daily, and this in a matter of two years. They have also expanded to Nairobi and we know that increasing sales by 30x was only possible because of how seriously we paid attention to culture and the specific market. Using our experience with Bamba Water and our team’s success, we want to help other enterprises incorporate the benefits of truly understanding the market they are working in and applying that knowledge to branding, marketing and sales. Better yet, we know that if we can help ventures be more successful- such as increasing sales by 30x in two years- it will automatically address the first issue of finding funding because impact investors will undoubtedly be more attracted to these successes.

What are the key aspects of market penetration that your book will address?

We note that a sound market penetration strategy will cover the process, methods and expected outcomes for the following aspects of a venture:

– Cultural / Market Awareness

– Brand building

– Marketing strategy

– Sales Team building

These techniques are useful for both for-profit and nonprofit companies. In fact, we urge nonprofit companies to begin paying more attention to this topic and know that it can greatly benefit them. People tend to think that business principles won’t apply to nonprofits and that focusing on sales or branding isn’t where they should put efforts. We know, however, that by focusing on branding and marketing and localizing to specific markets can be immensely beneficial to their operations. The Red Cross does a great job of branding and marketing themselves in a way that is similar to for-profit models, and it works to their advantage. We encourage individuals working in the nonprofit space to read our book and to focus on market penetration techniques.

Will your book address market penetration in multiple regions?IMG_2957

We will be using experiences from the multiple cultures we have worked in and we will also be using experiences from other individuals working in the impact space around the world. These stories will help give context to the key points we emphasize.

It is important to note that we find similarities in market penetration challenges to have more to do with an economic divide than a regional divide. We are writing the book specifically for people working in emerging markets and in fact would not suggest the same tactics to someone working in the U.S. or bigger markets. These tactics may work, but our advice is not tailored to large markets. Most of the book is coming from our experience in Kenya with Bamba Water, and we will be incorporating insight from others who have worked in different countries and with different ventures. While the inspiration for the book came from our experience in Kenya, the formula we have developed in the book is one that can be applied to any emerging market. When we think to our experiences in other countries such as Ecuador and the Philippines, we remain confident in our formula and are excited to share it with everyone in this book.

Are there any stories you can share with us now?

Hunter: One of my favorite stories is the experience I had creating Bamba Water’s tagline. First, I’ll note that Bamba Water sells water sachets and not water bottles. Water bottles were twice the price of what we were offering and well water was not a safe option for many people, so we had a great advantage. In the beginning, working with branding, we came up with “bottles are for babies”. As Americans, we loved the tagline, we felt it applied right away. However, I started to notice that Kenyans weren’t actually appreciating the tagline the way we did. It wasn’t funnyStevenHawking the way it was to Americans because…Kenyan babies don’t drink from bottles. The tagline ended up only coming off as if we were making fun of individuals who drink bottled water. Fortunately, after noticing the reaction and before placing “bottles are for babies” on every poster, we came up with “Bambika na Bamba Water” which resonated much better with Kenyans. Not only did it make sense- translating to “refresh yourself with Bamba Water”- but it also had the alliteration and it rolled off the tongue in a way that felt good when saying it. The reaction we got from Kenyans to the new tagline was similar to what we were getting from Americans with “bottles are for babies”, and this solidified for us that it was a perfect fit. This experience proved how important it is for companies to pay attention to the market culture and customer preferences. If one were to travel to Mombasa today and ask ten people about Bamba Water, they will all respond with ‘Bambika”. That’s how well it works.

Another quick example is our decision to put up a billboard at the entrance of the ferry between the island of Mombasa and the city of Likoni. Whereas in the U.S., this decision would have been for the purpose of marketing and awareness, in Kenya, it was for the purpose of gaining credibility. We knew the culture and the appreciation of status when a company obtains a large billboard, and therefore knew that it would be an advantage with customers to place that ad in such a prime location in a way that proved our status.

Jeff: On the sales side, everything has to sync with culture, just like on the brand side. With your sales team, you have to develop simple, consistent, repetitive standards. Sales culture—and company-wide culture for that matter—is not something that comes because you wrote it in a mission statement. Rather, culture comes from the accumulation of your standards exhibited through habits and behaviors over time. When we started with Bamba Water, the sales team wasn’t very developed. I spent the first weeks moving around with the sales team, learning how they worked and taking notes. I quickly realized they had many challenges and from there was able to identify the obstacles and opportunities. Some of the obstacles we found included opinions about positions and status. At Bamba Water, each team had a sales manager, a sales clerk in charge of inventory and a mkokoteni pusher- the individual who pushed the cart and delivered the product. In Kenya, a manager is generally seen to be sitting behind a desk and directing people on what to do, but not engaged much further. On the flip side, within the context of Kenya, pushing the cart as a mkokoteni pusher was one of the lowest positions and was the most labor-intensive job. There was one mkokoteni pusher in particular, Simon, who really caught my eye and who I often traveled with. One day we went to a school and I watched Simon work very hard and play with the kids while his manager would only sit on the truck and fill the role he felt he was meant to play. Shortly thereafter, the manager himself left and we put Simon in the manager roleIMG_6563. This was a defining moment; it was amazing to see him going from what was seen as a bottom position to be working as manager and because he understood the cart pusher experience, he was right away an effective manager. For us, the single most important leadership training for the sales managers was to teach them ownership of their team’s results. They had a tendency early on to blame everything but themselves for poor performance, i.e. weather, their team, their superiors, the product, etc. We had no tolerance for this lack of ownership, and trained all sales managers to take full responsibility for the performance of their team. If their sales were down, it was the sales manager’s fault and no one else’s. This was something that Simon took very seriously, and did very well.  This critically changed the way his sales team operated. Simon went on to lead the top-producing area in Kenya for Bamba Water and I’m so proud to have witnessed that progression.

 

Where can we access the e-book once it is published?

The book will be available on our site and is projected for publication in June 2016. We encourage everyone to pre-order today. Our goal is to help social enterprises get over the common problem of market penetration issues and we believe all entrepreneurs should have access to this knowledge, which is why we are providing our book for FREE online.

Follow Concept Hunter: Twitter  LinkedIn

Hunter Sebresos served in the Marine Corps out of high school and was deployed to multiple locations where he grew an appreciation for people and cultures. He spent two years on a religious mission in the Philippines and then worked in advertising in cities including New York, Salt Lake City and Miami. Hunter then became interested in other aspects of communication and design which led him to apply to graduate school in order to find ways of blending his love of international cultures and design. After graduate school, he worked at NASA and helped communicate the various complex activities of scientists and astronauts to the public. Shortly after NASA, he moved to Kenya and worked with MOTIIS before joining FMS.

Jeff Hicken lived in Ecuador for two years on a religious mission after high school. The experience marked him as it was his first time living outside of the United States. He then studied Economics at BYU in Utah and worked in business development. When he moved to Kenya to work with MOTIIS and Bamba Water, Jeff focused on innovative ways to develop the sales team. His background in economics and business compliments Hunter’s design background, which is a unique aspect of the Concept Hunter Team.

The Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) program seeks purpose-driven professionals to join its award-winning social enterprise management and impact investing certificate trainings in Monterey, California (June 6-17, 2016), and Washington, DC (Winter 2017). Founded in 2011, FMS has trained more than 300 professionals since its inception. FMS received a 2013 Cordes Innovation Award from AshokaU and has now become the flagship program of the newly launched Center for Social Impact Learning at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. The early application deadline is April 29, 2016. Learn more and submit your application here.

 

Announcing a New Impact Investing “Hard Skills” 2-Day Clinic: Financial Analysis and Modeling for Social Businesses, Projects and Impact Investing Funds

Clinic

What hard skills are required for a career in the impact investing? For starters, you are going to need to know the difference between debt and equity. You must be able to understand financial statements and how to create a financial model, analyses, and forecasting.

 

What is a social enterprise? What does “impact” really mean? The “impact space” spans across all industries. It is an exciting new approach that uses finance and business as a tool to address pressing environmental and social needs. Many purpose-driven people have worked “close to the impact” through the Peace Corps, or with a local nonprofit. However, the essential frameworks for social business design can be challenging to distinguish for those who have little or no background in basic finance.

 

We’ve designed a 2-day intensive clinic focused on the essential frameworks for financial analysis and modeling for social impact. The clinic is a comprehensive introduction that will break down key concepts. It has been designed as a primer to the Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) certificate training in social enterprise management and impact investing.

 

The clinic takes place the weekend prior to the FMS Monterey training—June 4 & 5, 2016. It is ideal for incoming FMS participants as well as past alums who lack a solid background in finance. This course is also an excellent opportunity for professionals interested in gaining a foundational starting point for understanding how impact investing and social enterprise works. Check out the schedule for a break down of each day.

 

Workshop Fee (non-FMS participants): $450

Workshop Fee (FMS participants and alumni): $100

To apply, submit your information here – https://fms1.typeform.com/to/x0JSWn

 

 

Course Instructor

Kim Kastorff founded both Kimpacto, Inc. and Global Success Fund, after many years in banking, investments, social responsibility & education, and understanding that social entrepreneurs & global businesses need affordable financial services, funding and greater collaboration, plus the increasing importance to demonstrate social impact. Today, there is an increasing trend for ‘Maximizing financial + social impact.’  Kimpacto further supports impact investors in connecting their personal mission with impact funds and social investment opportunities.

 

Kim’s goal is to promote financial inclusion and push for a more educated and financially sustainable global environment.  As a Benefit Corporation and Certified B Corporation, Kimpacto, Inc. is held to our global mission and a higher level of social, environmental, community and governance standards.
Kim is fluent in English & Spanish and brings her global finance, investment banking and Big 4 Consulting experience (U.S., Europe & Latin America) and holds an MBA in Finance, and a Masters in Research – Impact Investing and FINRA Securities Licenses (7, 63, 65).

 

 

Join FMS!

Guatemala pic
Talking about “impact” only gets us so far… the world needs real solutions and people who are willing to get their hands dirty in the process of doing purpose-driven work. Get into the action with the Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) training and fellowship program in social venture management and impact investing: go.miis.edu/fms


Top Three Reasons to Join FMS:


·         Earn a Professional Certificate in Impact Investing and Social Enterprise Management.  
The FMS two-week Certificate Training is offered three times a year in Monterey and DC. The training provides participants with the knowledge and foundational network to launch a career in the field of impact investing and social enterprise management.
View the 2016 program schedule and location details.

·         Learn from the Best in the Field

FMS training instructors are leading practitioners in the impact space and work with organizations that include Omidyar Network, Pi Investments, Cordes Foundation, Accion Venture Lab, and Unreasonable Group. Through the combination of lectures and actionable projects, participants walk away with a comprehensive understanding of who the key players in the impact sector are, how to design an innovative impact-focused business model, and what it takes to implement and scale a social venture.

·         Become a Fellowship Candidate

After completing the intensive, two-week training, FMS participants have the opportunity to become candidates for fellowship positions with social ventures, accelerator programs, or impact funds. Typically full or part-time positions, fellowships are aimed at scaling or improving existing processes, addressing pressing business development or sales and marketing needs.
Since 2011, FMS fellows have worked to grow and improve processes for over 100 social enterprises around the world during field assignments based in countries such as Brazil, India, The Netherlands, Ecuador, Vietnam, Tanzania, South Africa, and Lebanon.

Learn more about the fellowship placement process and experience.

         FMS media:
Paul Breloff from Accion Venture Lab on trends in impact investing and working with FMS: Watch Here
FMS fellows share what they’ve gained: Watch Here

       Interested in enrolling in the FMS certificate training?
“FMS is by far the most valuable thing I did during my entire time at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS). In many ways, it’s like a highly-condensed specialized MBA degree.” ~ Jeanette Pelizzon


Apply Online: go.miis.edu/fms

 

Fellow Feature: FMS Fellow Kate Hanford

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Kate Hanford, FMS 2015 Alumna, began working with Unreasonable East Africa in Uganda through an FMS Fellowship. She is now their Chief Operating Officer (COO) and making big moves! We are proud to share her feature as we gear up for the new cohort of amazing FMS Fellows in the coming two months.

Tell us a little about your position and your daily activities.

My position is split between an internal facing side and external facing side. Internally I build processes and systems for Unreasonable East Africa so our team runs smoothly. Externally I am the primary focal point for our entrepreneurs. I work to make sure we understand, and are addressing their key challenges.

What has been the most exciting part about working with Unreasonable East Africa and professional life in the impact space?

Getting to work directly with companies that are changing people’s lives for the better, and seeing these companies grow! For example, one of our companies from this past year has really struggled to raise money because they are based in South Sudan, which is quite an unstable environment for investment. A funder that we connected them with in July just agreed to give them a $50,000 grant. This company works to train doctors in a country where currently only 60 new health professionals enter the workforce annually. That means only ⅕ of a doctor per person in a country whose population is growing the 3rd fastest in the world, and where the maternal mortality rate is 1st in the world. It’s an amazing feeling to see a company like that grow faster through our work!

Why did you decide to join the FMS program and what were you hoping to get out of the experience?

Starting in high school, I had a goal of working with companies in developing countries. After living in DC for several years, I was ready for the next stage in my career, and was considering going back to grad school for an MBA, or going to do something in a foreign country. I decided that getting more international experience was more time-sensitive than going back to school, so I applied to the FMS program to help me find positions internationally. I expected to work abroad for 6 months somewhere in the world. I hoped to gain a better understanding of a foreign culture, and to build my understanding of the social enterprise world.

Were there any surprises or unforeseen benefits that emerged?

Well, I’ve been here for almost 2 years, so yes! Including:

-Motivation/inspiration from being surrounded by like-minded people during the training
(some of which I’m still friends with)

-Getting a placement that was so aligned with what I wanted
(I didn’t necessarily expect this would be possible)

-Getting so into the work I’m doing that I would commit to being in Uganda for 2 years

-Being inspired by the entrepreneurs I’m surrounded by, both within Unreasonable East Africa and with the companies we work with. Coming into this role, I was very much a “big organization” type person, and really enjoyed structure and working within big systems. While structured approaches will always be a part of my thinking, I have come to really enjoy the sometimes crazy but exhilarating lack of structure, and the resulting increase in opportunities that comes with entrepreneurship.

What were some of your biggest obstacles during the experience – professional or personal?

-Adjusting to living in a different culture long-term. There are so many different layers of culture to understand! It’s fascinating, and working to understand it is one of my favorite things about being here, but it’s also hard to feel like you don’t understand the nuances of what is going on. I still feel like I learn new things regularly, and like I said, I’ve been here for almost 2 years!

-Adjusting from being part of a large organization to now being part of a tiny start-up team. Before I moved, I was working for a large NGO in Washington D.C. that had about 400 people at its headquarters, and about 2,000 staff internationally. Now I work on a team with 6 people. This means changes in the way I communicate, the way I work in teams, the roles people play – almost everything!

How would you describe FMS to a stranger?Kate Hanford

FMS is a fellowship program that gives you 2 weeks of training on social entrepreneurship and impact investing, and then matches you with relevant job positions around the world. The program is a chance to strengthen your knowledge about the impact space, and connect with relevant people therein (both classmates and instructors).

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges in growing the impact-driven economy?

I think the first challenge is how you define the “impact-driven economy”. 77% of Uganda’s population is under the age of 30, and 83% of people in that age bracket don’t have jobs. 83%!!!! That means that creating any business that creates jobs for locals is creating a positive social impact, regardless of what kind of business it is. The complicated part comes when you consider the details – is that business paying living wages; are they harming the environment; what impact do they have beyond employment? A second challenge in an emerging economy context is finding the right people to work for impact organizations. Especially when they are starting up, impact organizations are generally looking for people who are motivated by passion for the cause more than salary. This is easier to find in countries like the US, where people have more job options, and tend to self-select for these type of roles. In a place where some job, any job is hard to come by, people that are not necessarily passionate about the cause will still apply for jobs at impact companies. This makes it hard to tease out if a potential employee will be cause/values aligned over the long-term or not.

What are your top three tips for someone looking to start a purpose-driven career?

1. Have a clear idea of what your goals are, even if they are very broad. If you’re not sure, keep talking to as many people as possible about it! When I joined FMS, I knew I wanted to work with companies directly, and that I ideally wanted to work with a broad range of companies to get an understanding of the social impact space, rather than the understanding of a specific industry in more depth. Be honest with yourself about what is most important to you, and explain that to people you talk to about your career.

2. Be patient in looking for what you want to do. There can be a lot of pressure to find a job and jump into things, but if it’s not a good match with your skill set and passions it likely won’t be worth it.

3. Remember that there is no one “right choice”. This applies to any career path, but it’s important to remember that there is only so much you can do to predict what will make you happy and successful in the future. Make a decision on your next step based off the information you have now and some thoughtful self-reflection, and keep in mind that if it doesn’t end up being the thing for you, you can always change!

What’s next for you?

It’s time for me to go back to school! I’m currently in the process of applying to MBA programs, and will start next fall. (Fall 2016) I plan on continuing to work on operations for big, game-changing ideas!

 

Check out Kate’s post about Unreasonable’s learnings in East Africa, entitled “What Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know About Working in East Africa”

Follow Kate: Twitter    LinkedIn

Follow Unreasonable East Africa: Facebook     Twitter     Website

Fellow Feature: FMS Alumna Ellen Halle

FullSizeRender (4)We had the pleasure of checking in with Ellen Halle, Middlebury College and FMS Alumna, who is currently an Associate at I-DEV International. She talks to us with passion about the work she is doing and how FMS helped her get there:

Tell us a little about yourself and your current position

I currently work for I-DEV International and am based in the Nairobi office. I was connected to the organization through FMS when I participated in the FMS Training in Amsterdam; the CEO of I-DEV was one of the FMS professors. I have a background in global health; during undergrad, the vast majority of my work was in the NGO world in the context of field work, public health research & NGO programming. After graduating from Middlebury, I wanted to gain more experience in the private sector in the context of healthcare; healthcare was my bridge to the private sector. I spent about 2 years I working for a firm called Oxeon Partners in New York, concentrating on early stage venture and private equity-backed health care companies. I learned a ton about growth-stage business strategy and the dynamism of venture capital. However, all of Oxeon’s portfolio companies were focused domestically, and I was really missing the international exposure. Therefore, I wanted a role that would bridge my experience in global health and international development with the work I enjoyed in high-growth, for-profit businesses. FMS was the perfect next step to find that opportunity.

Why I-DEV International?

I-DEV is a strategy consulting & financial advisory firm focused on growing and scaling small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets. We work with SMEs themselves but also impact funds, commercial investors, multinational corporations with SMEs in their supply chain, and NGOs/multilaterals increasing their focus on enterprise development. We do this across two groups: Insight & Strategy and Financial Advisory. I work as a generalist across both groups, but tend to work more on the Insight & Strategy side.

Ellen leading a strategy workshop in Uganda
Ellen leading a strategy workshop in Uganda

I-DEV felt like a natural fit, given my goal of combining my depth of international field experience (in Uganda, Costa Rica & Nicaragua) with my growth-stage business acumen. The work we do is varied and highly dynamic and we get to spend a lot of time in the field. Because we work with such a diverse array of stakeholders (from the NGOs to the MNCs) I get to think from many different angles throughout every project and frankly, throughout every day. I really agree with I-DEV’s approach to advising and improving businesses; we take into account the views of the entire value chain—from the CEO of the business to the investors to the producers of raw material—smallholder farmers in agribusiness, etc. Creating alignment between stakeholders—and creating alignment between impact and shareholder value—is something I really believe in. For example, some of our work with a multinational apparel company has included the development of what I-DEV calls a “secondary benefits program” for their producer co-ops. Secondary Benefits really just refers to the provision of technical assistance, advance payments, low-interest loans, input discounts, and other benefits to farmers in the MNC supply chain. Companies can offer these benefits to farmers provided they reach certain quality provisions, sell a certain percentage of their crop to the MNC and attend a certain amount of trainings to increase quality. In this way, the MNC aligns impact with shareholder value—improving livelihoods at the BoP while increasing supply consistency, production capacity and product quality.

I-DEV’s goal is to help create businesses that are investable and scalable in terms of both revenue & impact; I think both the impact sector and the East African VC space will really benefit as these companies continue to scale, attract capital and ultimately exit.

What has been the most exciting part about professional life in the impact space? 

I’ve been in Nairobi since March and two things stand out specifically. The first is how amazing it has been to experience such a dynamic…and nebulous…space. The so-called “impact space” brings together players with such different backgrounds: the venture capitalists, the local entrepreneurs, the development banking professionals. The intersectoral collaboration—or lack thereof—in the impact space can be confusing, but bringing together different perspectives is the only way that change has ever been achieved.

From a personal perspective, it’s been such a joy to travel throughout East and West Africa for my role at I-DEV. The opportunity to visit all of the places that I spent my academic career studying and reading about is amazing; realizing that as a young professional I’m able to add value here working small enterprises is even better. Additionally, working with a multi-cultural team has been refreshing and energizing.

With regard to Nairobi, it’s really not that different than New York. Bear with me…I know that sounds crazy. But there’s actually a lot of overlay…they are two crazy busy places, there’s always a lot going on. Nairobi is much more cosmopolitan than people in the US tend to think; something that speaks to its attractiveness to investors as well, I think.

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Ellen during a field assessment of a fair-trade macadamia business in Kenya

How are you directly applying the skills learned through FMS?

FMS formalized my interests by providing additional support and coursework in a structured framework. It also brings together people from a great array of different backgrounds– in that way it prepared me for the impact space…some people are more financially oriented, some are more impact oriented, and FMS mirrored that. Also, I had worked with medium sized VC-backed businesses ($500k+ revenues), but felt that FMS better prepared me for working with very early stage businesses and providing training for young entrepreneurs themselves.

Increasingly my colleagues and classmates who have been working in traditional finance jobs reach out to me to learn about the work I’m now doing and with great interest in FMS. They all have strong business backgrounds and have the desire to do social good but aren’t sure how to channel it. FMS is one of the only programs out there that can harness that type of aspiration and that’s the coolest thing about the program. People do come from different backgrounds, and it’s one of the only programs that can help people coming from the top tier institutions and the traditional experience to apply the skills they have but towards the social impact sector. Other programs target specific people and backgrounds but tend to keep them on the same track, whereas FMS really encourages us to think deeply about change and to go forward and make strong impact.

What are your top three tips for someone looking to start a purpose-driven career?

  1. There is real power in networking and connecting. Do not be hesitant to reach out. It’s the number one way that people can get involved. People like being able to help others, so always feel confident in reaching out and learning more about the spaces that you are interested in. Paying it forward is a good thing.
  2. Think about where you can add value. This is kind of the ultimate catch 22, because in order to add value you need experience, and in order to have experience you probably have one or two experiences where your value-add is minimal. That said, think about the skills that you have and how you can use them to best help a growing enterprise, an impact fund or another entity—maybe its financial analysis, maybe it’s relationship management, but know your skillset and think appropriately about what opportunities fit you best.
  3. Jump in. I think there’s a lot of reticence to move from a traditional finance career to something more nontraditional and risky. Sometimes the best thing to do is just take the leap and make the change you’ve been thinking about.

Reach out to Ellen:  Twitter  Linkedin                           Follow I Dev: Website  Twitter

This is the last week to apply to FMS D.C. Training! Launch your new career, apply today: go.miis.edu/fms

Partner Feature: African Entrepreneur Collective, Inkomoko


AEC Sara Julienne
“One of our main beliefs is that every problem on the continent already has a solution on the continent.”

We are excited to share our first FMS Partner Feature. Our partner organizations are extremely important to us because their work is at the core of what drives our program and our fellows. In a recent conversation with Sara Leedom, co-founder and COO of African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC), she tells us about AEC, how the Frontier Market Scout fellows have impacted their organization and what we can look forward to in the future (including an open job position!).

Tell us about African Entrepreneur Collective

“We whole-heartedly believe in local entrepreneurs, local staff and local leadership!”

African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC) is a network of incubators and accelerators with the goal to create jobs across Africa. Young people across the Continent are more educated and connected than ever before, and yet as countries are seeing double-digit economic growth, young people are often left out of that economic prosperity. We believe that entrepreneurship is a strong solution to the challenge of job creation.

AEC works with young entrepreneurs who already have an idea and a tested model but who can benefit from technical assistance to overcome barriers to their growth. Our ideal client is someone who has worked at least six months on the business and is starting to understand the challenges. At that stage, we want to help support them through those challenges, keeping them in the driver’s seat, and on a healthy path towards success which in turns fosters job creation.

AEC Ent Collage
African Entrepreneur Collective Entrepreneurs

AEC launched in Rwanda, our pilot location, with several offerings: Inkomoko is our core accelerator program, then we launched Tigo’s THINK as the Tech Hub in Kigali to stimulate digital innovation.  We also have a student business plan competition, the African Innovation Prize, which allows us to work with entrepreneurs who are still at the idea stage and give them the opportunity to build a business from the ground up.  And finally, we’re the Rwanda implementer of SPRING, an incubator for companies serving women and girls.

Through these programs, AEC can really help African entrepreneurs because we have been exactly where they are: we’ve had to find investors, hire local staff, advertise here, etc. There is a lot that we have learned by going through the same exact steps that these business owners are experiencing.

Each of our accelerators have four program elements that we believe must exist simultaneously:

  1. Access to Capacity Building Services: practical trainings and workshops, classes on HR and Quickbooks, marketing and human centered design.
  2. Mentorship: each entrepreneur is paired with a mentor from across the globe.
  3. Technical Assistance: for the items that an entrepreneur doesn’t need to master themselves — lawyers on retainer, logo and website designer, tax accountants
  4. Access to Finance: through our Kiva-backed loan fund, we provide affordable and flexible in-house loans as well as transparent repayment plans.

This program model is our foundation as we expand to Tanzania in January 2016.

What drives AEC?

Spending time across the Continent, we have met hundreds of amazing young people who have great ideas and visions for their communities, but who didn’t have access to opportunities present in developed economies. We look to support what these youth have identified as needs in their own communities, rather than AEC bringing our own ideas to the community.

One of our main beliefs is that every problem on the continent already has a solution on the continent. Young people in Africa can create their own future and own businesses, creating their own income and adding to the wealth of their communities. Our job is to help weaken any barriers that may stand in their way.

 What does impact mean to AEC?

On a practical level, our impact is equipping people to have the skills to create jobs for themselves and others. Our target is that within 18 months of working with us, the entrepreneur will have created on average 10 jobs. When you add the multiplier effect, we are looking at long-term, large-scale impact for job creation across the Continent.

On a philosophical level, our impact is holding up our unwavering belief in young African entrepreneurs, so that investors and policy makers around the world see that African entrepreneurs can create the change that is needed on the continent. It’s about helping shift the dialogue so that it’s not only western investors investing in expats in social enterprise but that the young people who have the most to gain in their communities are the ones to direct the impact. We’re there to tell the stories, raise the profiles, and of course invest in young Africans ourselves.

AEC Fellows
Fellows Alberto and Aysha with Inkomoko Staff in Rwanda

Why did you choose to partner with FMS?

This is our first year as a partner with FMS. It’s been such a fantastic experience. We’ve also had the chance to meet with other people in the program and continue to be impressed with the skills and impact FMS fellows achieve. We had two scouts this year, one of which we hired full time, and one of whom we were able to bring back for a second contract with us.

Alberto Rodriguez, AEC Portfolio Manager, has a background with Deutschebank in Madrid and had done some work starting a school in Kenya. He is our portfolio manager for both funds and we have been incredibly impressed with his professionalism and ability to help strengthen our efforts.

Aysha Rajput. AEC Communications Fellow, produced our first annual report, facilitated client testimonials and published our newsletters. She’s now continuing on a consulting project with us to help us fundraise. We loved our fellows and are excited to continue working with them.

What’s on the horizon for AEC?

We’re expanding!  We will be launching in Western Tanzania in January 2016.

Rwanda was a great pilot program and we are so proud of the work we have been able to achieve. With a small population of 12 million, even if we reached everyone, we would still only access a small slice of what is happening on the continent. We are committed to continuing our efforts in Rwanda and as such, are currently hiring a new Managing Director for our Rwanda location. Applications are open now and we hope to find a great fit soon.

Now that we have tested our model in various formats, we want to be able to bring what we are doing to other communities as well.  The relative ease of doing business in Rwanda (low corruption, stable electricity, efficient government systems, etc), also encourages us to stress test our model and see if we can help as much in countries experiencing different complexities.  We want to test the model early enough in our development to see what works and what doesn’t and then advance confidently.  Our goal is 7 countries by 2022.

We’ve had such a beneficial partnership with FMS and we are excited to bring on more fellows in the future. FMS fellows have been incredibly useful in strengthening and supporting our work which is why we’ve been encouraging other organizations to look to FMS for talent. What’s fantastic is that FMS fellows come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and it’s possible to find a fellow to help with anything from photography to financial modeling to due diligence to fundraising.

There is still time to apply for FMS Monterey! Apply now: FMS Application Winter 2016

Follow AEC and Inkomoko on Twitter!

Follow CSIL and FMS:  CSIL Twitter   FMS Twitter    FMS Facebook    CSIL Facebook   Newsletter

Fellow Feature: FMS Alumna Jeanette Pelizzon

 

“FMS is by far the most valuable thing I did during my entire time at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS). In many ways, it’s like a highly-condensed specialized MBA degree.”

JeanettePic2

 

FMS Fellow Jeanette Pelizzon talks to us about breaking into the impact space, starting with her career-changing fellowship at the Calvert Foundation. FMS partners with hundreds of organizations around the globe and offers scouts competitive placements that launch sustainable careers in impact.

 

 

Tell us about where you are today

In July, I finished my FMS Fellowship with Calvert Foundations, an Impact Investing Fund doing amazing work around the world. I worked with their International Diaspora Engagement Alliance, a recent public-private partnership between USAID and the State Department. At Calvert, I focused on their communications activities with the priority of fostering and maintaining connections with diaspora groups around the world while gathering information in preparation for Global Diaspora Week, a highlighting avenue for different diaspora groups. The experience really enlightened me and gave me a unique view of how public-private partnerships work as well as the ins and outs of government funding and grants.

Calvert was a great placement for me because it offered me experience and gave me a better idea of where I fit. In the future, I plan to work on the program and management side of a social enterprise. My ideal position would be to help implement projects in emerging markets. For example, I’d like to focus on the international projects that companies create and fund with the profits from a product that they are offering here in the U.S. Working at an incubator or accelerator where a lot of social enterprises are coming and trying to find their way in the startup phase would be a great position for me as well.

These days I am living in D.C. looking for my next opportunity. I’m working to connect here by attending startup weekends and networking events. The FMS experience solidified my view on where I want to be and with these skills, I feel confident in future prospects because I know that I am well-trained and have a lot to offer the impact space.

How would you describe the FMS experience to a stranger?

Awesome. FMS is simply awesome. It is definitely worth taking the time off of work or relocating for the two weeks of training. You finish each module with real life skills and get to apply them in a semi realistic setting right away; that then flows over to a fellowship with a chance to apply the skills in a very concrete and realistic setting. You’re constantly learning and no time is wasted because every instructor is a practitioner coming from a different background and expertise. These different perspectives on the topic provide a true 360° view. While in FMS, you create a great network of supporters and you have an opportunity for a fellowship to launch your career. You leave feeling skilled and capable because FMS offers a really powerful introduction to each side of the impact space. Even if you don’t have experience with financial models or investments, you will with those new skills and the confidence to use them.

During the training, you will spend one week addressing issues from an entrepreneur perspective and the next week you will shift to addressing issues from the investor prospective. Getting both sides of the spectrum speaks again to the 360° view. No matter which side you choose to work on moving forward, it will be critical to understand both the investor and entrepreneur perspective. As an entrepreneur, you must know the ins and outs of what you’re going up against and what goes into deciding to invest in your company; similarly, when you’re an investor it is important to know what you’re investing in and what goes into building that company. By understanding how a social enterprise is set up and how it is functioning, you can pinpoint areas where a company is innovative and areas where they have pitfalls relative to what is feasible. There is an empathy factor as well, you start to realize things do not happen as fast in emerging markets as they do here, so understanding the time required for the return on an investment or better connecting with what challenges a social entrepreneur can face will help you judge them in an informed way. In FMS, you also learn about the legal side of investment which is honestly so interesting and you wouldn’t be able to get that somewhere else in such a short and informative way. In many ways, it’s like a highly-condensed specialized MBA degree. I still keep the notes and look back at them often.

How has FMS helped launch your current path?

FMS is by far the most valuable thing I did during my entire time at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS). You’re not working with academics, you’re working with practitioners. With FMS, you gain real world experience and also the benefits of a stellar network. It is particularly cool to hear about projects practitioners are working on while they are instructing you in class and then later see the stories pop up on your news feed. FMS also gave me behind the scenes information about the way start-ups can fail and the struggle behind the scenes to get back on track; we often see the success stories in the mainstream, but there is so much to be learned from failure as well.

What were some of the most meaningful connections you made during FMS?

The practitioners themselves become mentors and it is clear that they honestly want to see you succeed and become a part of this sector. To this day, I am still in touch with Paul Breloff and Amit Sharma who have been great supporters well after my FMS training. Connections are about give and take, and I’m always looking for ways that I can give to others in the impact space. In return for these mentors’ advice and direction, I can flag new enterprises that I’m learning about and share them as potential investment opportunities. As for the other young professionals in my cohort, we still keep in touch and often share articles of interest with each other. The community is really supportive, positive and encouraging, instead of cutthroat or competitive in negative ways.

Moving forward, what are you most excited to learn more about?

I’m most excited to learn more about what it really takes to make a social enterprise functional and funded, especially using lean startup models. This is why working in an accelerator or impact hub would be a particularly rewarding position; I know I would be learning new things every day and I would have the ability to apply some of the methods and models we learned in FMS.

What are your top three recommendations for someone looking to start a purpose-driven career?

  1. Find what you are passionate about. If you don’t feel inspired going to work everyday then you are doing something wrong.
  2. Keep educating yourself. There are tons of free online classes and resources for you to continue building your skill set to help you get the career you want.
  3. Find your tribe/pack/crew. I can’t emphasis enough how important it is to surround yourself with likeminded people. It is so important to be able to bounce ideas off of people who understand the socent sphere.

If you are looking for a way to launch into the field of social enterprise and impact management, be sure to apply to FMS before October 2nd  at go.miis.edu/fms and start your purpose-driven career.

Link in with Jeanette Pelizzon |  Twitter: @jcpelizzon  |
About.me: Jeanette Pelizzon  |   Follow @calvertinvests and @calvert_fdn

Follow us @FMScouts  @center4impact

Fellow Feature: Laura Benoit Current FMS Fellow in Peru

   LauraPolaroidText2

“The opportunity to…watch our projects unfold from ideas and planning to the actual implementation has been amazing.”

 

For the past five months, Laura Benoit (FMS ’15) has been working in Lima, Peru with Klaud a Design Consultancy. FMS placements average between 2 and 12 months; Laura intends to take full advantage of her placement and work with Klaud . On the eve of a weekend trip to Guatemala, she gave us the inside scoop about her current job and how she is using her FMS training:

Tell us about your new position

I am the Social Responsibility Project Manager at Klaud, a Design Consultancy that works with artisan groups and designers in the textile industry in Peru. Klaud works with both artisans and the industry; however, in my position, I focus [only] on the artisan groups. Specifically, I implement projects to improve organizational sustainability, such as the work I do with La Republica del Tejido in the Puno Region. My role is to create their business model and ensure that the project is financially viable and sustainable over time. At Klaud, sustainability is a top priority. Historically, projects in Peru tend to exist for only one or two years before fading away, but it is important that our projects can increase the financial autonomy of these women in the long term. In addition to La República, We are also working with La Bodega Mate to source their products from local artisans to maximize local resources. By doing so, Mate contributes more to the local economy instead of importing goods at high cost.

What has been the most exciting part about working with Klaud and professional life in the impact space?

Being able to implement the different projects we have created. In the past I have either implemented other people’s ideas or worked more on the idea side, but here I’m working through the entire project. The opportunity to work alongside my colleagues from start to finish and watch our projects unfold from ideas and planning to the actual implementation has been amazing.

How are you directly applying some of the skills learned through FMS?

In FMS we focused a lot on ensuring that the mission, goals and business model of an enterprise are all aligned so as to create the intended impact. At Klaud, we have been working to align all of their projects with the initial mission and goals of the company. I now have a unique viewpoint because I was trained to not only look at goals and projects through the lens of the enterprise, but through the lens of the investors as well, taking into account how they want their money to be used and the impact they intend to create. I use FMS skills like that on a daily basis. In fact, FMS was the best thing I did at MIIS. The training had the best return on learning, experiencing new things and meeting new people. Another incredible thing about FMS was that it was such a diverse community. I was used to working with graduate students in my program and with FMS we had so many new people and such a mix of backgrounds and experiences that it really pushed me to be competitive in a different way, which was a fantastic learning experience.

PicMonkey CollageLaura

What are you most excited to learn in your current position?

I’m most excited to learn how to build camaraderie on a project between different actors. A lot of our work involves public private partnerships with government, mining companies and the alpaca industry so it is important to present the project in a way that encourages them to really lend their strengths. Essentially, we want to integrate the actors so that each one is playing on their strengths when contributing to the project because with all of these willing actors, the project and community as a whole will be fortified. I am also always learning to better encourage communities to take the projects on their own after we have set the stage.

What are your top three recommendations for someone looking to start a purpose-driven career?

  1. Find a part of the social/impact sector that you are excited and passionate about because if you do so, your work will always be rewarding even though it may not be easy.
  2. Stay flexible and creative in your thinking and process of working. Things don’t always go as planned; new challenges come up and it will be up to you to find solutions.
  3. Surround yourself with people with whom you can share ideas and work through challenges. The more you communicate your ideas and thoughts, the more input you’ll get and the stronger your ideas and understanding will become.v

If you are looking for a way to launch into the field of social enterprise and impact management: apply before September 4th at go.miis.edu/fms and start your purpose-driven career.

Why wait? Your impact matters now!

Link in with Laura Benoit |   La Rep. del Tejido: @republica_tejid  |

Follow FMS & CSIL @FMScouts  @center4impact

Fellow Feature: An Interview with FMS Alumna Brittany Lane

Brittany
Brittany Lane          FMS ’15 Alumna                 Editor, Unreasonable Group

 

“I get my mind blown every time, and every single day. I’m learning so fast and so much”

Brittany Lane (FMS ’15) chatted with us recently about her new position as Editor at Unreasonable Group in Boulder, Colorado. We wanted to know more about what makes Unreasonable Group such an inspiring and exciting place to work.  Brittany shared insights about life and launching her purpose-driven career after FMS and graduate school:

Tell us about your new position

I love my job. Unreasonable Group works to drive resources and knowledge to entrepreneurs in emerging markets. I focus on our blog at unreasonable.is and edit everything that comes my way. I also pitch ideas for content and have great conversations with current thought leaders and mentors that are connected to Unreasonable Institute and Unreasonable Group. We are planning to feature more writing from the entrepreneurs who have graduated from Unreasonable Institute as well.

What has been the most exciting part about working with Unreasonable and professional life in the impact space?

For me, the people are the most exciting part. I’ve heard Daniel Epstein and many others at Unreasonable believe that business is really just about people, not the strategy or the marketing, and that holds really true for me. The variety of people who are interested in Unreasonable and have worked with us in the past or that do work with us now is fascinating. These are people from all over the world, and people from all sectors. Having conversations with such bright minds is great. I get my mind blown every time and every single day. I’m learning so fast and so much; it’s really rewarding work.

How are you directly applying some of the skills learned through FMS?

Without FMS and CSIL, I wouldn’t have discovered Unreasonable. I definitely wouldn’t have gotten this position if I hadn’t gone through the program. I highly encourage the training, and FMS Fellows have the opportunity to place with Unreasonable East Africa, which would be awesome.

For me, coming from a policy study background, the most important thing was being introduced to this whole world of responsible investing and social enterprise. It gave me notions of business for good and an introduction to the general ecosystem. Through FMS training, I learned who the key players are in this space, how investment plays into it,   about the lifecycle and different levels of startup. To be able to speak the language of whatever industry you’re in is a really important baseline. Especially for me working with words on the journalism side of things, language is really important. Plus the connections were amazing.

It was the PERFECT introduction and launching point for me. Without the FMS training experience I don’t know what I would be doing right now. I was studying policy but realized traditional development work wasn’t for me. This is a fresh and energetic approach to solving big and seemingly impossible problems.

 

What are you most excited to learn in your current position?

I’m most excited about how I can grow within Unreasonable and position myself as a leader as the company grows. Learning how I can improve in my role and continue to spread the culture of giving is very important to me. I just started and already I’ve learned so much, I’m just excited to see what’s next.

What are your top three recommendations for someone looking to start a purpose-driven career?

  1. Take some time to really know your values because they are your distinct compass
  2. Subscribe, Follow, Share, Tweet as much as you can about this field and its language. It’s ever-evolving and the time is ripe for you to actively participate.
  3. Surround yourself with people who share similar values and see how you can support each other.

Like many of our alumni, Brittany joined FMS looking for a change from her previous field of work and study, and now directly credits her FMS training as the launchpad for her current career path.

If you are looking for a way to launch into the field of social enterprise and impact management, be sure to apply before September 4th at go.miis.edu/fms and start your purpose-driven career.  After all, what are you waiting for?
Follow Brittany: @brittanylane515    |    Follow Unreasonable: @unreasonable   |    Follow FMS @FMScouts 

Careers with Impact: An interview with FMS Partner Nafessa Kassim on building a purpose-driven career

Nafessa bright rounded
Nafessa Kassim, Director of Global Engagements at MovingWorlds.

From social worker to Director of Global Engagements at the fast growing startup MovingWorlds – Nafessa Kassim’s career path has been anything but a straight line from A to B. In this interview she talks to FMS Program Director, Erina McWilliam-Lopez about how she combined her passion for enacting positive social change with her entrepreneurial savvy to take on one of the greatest barriers to sustainable development – access to human talent.

Tell us about your role at MovingWorlds

As the Director of Global Engagements I wear many hats – especially since we’re a growing company. My job is to make sure that people and organizations are prepared to have high-impact Experteering engagements. This means ensuring that Experteers and Host Organizations establish clear expectations for success that lead to long-term and culturally respectful social impact. I do this through the following activities:

  • Developing and delivering online training and resources that support synchronicity between the Host Organization and the Experteer.
  • Overseeing all matches. While our matching site does most of this automatically, we curate all opportunities and oversee all matches for quality.
  • Creating and building partnerships with different Host Organizations and Partner Organizations, like Frontier Market Scouts.
  • Project management of our corporate clients who are focusing on Corporate Volunteerism. I am currently working with Microsoft and its MySkills4Afrika program.

What is MovingWorlds all about?  What need is it fulfilling in the world?

The World Economic Forum, ANDE, and others have indicated that a lack of access to human talent is one of the leading barriers to progress in development.

MovingWorlds functions like a short-term Peace Corps experience for skilled professionals focused on tackling this talent gap. We help social impact organizations working on last-mile challenges, and which have employment generation potential, with the necessary talent to overcome barriers to scale. We do this by harnessing the desire of people to travel the world in more meaningful ways and connect them to organizations that will provide them free accommodations and immersive experiences in exchange for their time and skills.

Since managing international, skills-based volunteering engagements can be tricky, we have developed an online training and facilitated planning process to ensure these Experteering matches can happen at scale, be culturally inclusive, and create a sustainable impact.

Talk about your own professional background – how did you end up where you are today?

My path started as a counselor and case manager for sexual assault survivors, and then arrested youth in the juvenile justice system in San Francisco.  In these positions I worked to support my clients and advocated for their rights as individuals and as a group.  Working with high risk populations provided me with an incredible amount of humility, admiration for people’s strength and endurance.

As time progressed I wanted to expand my experience in human rights issues to the worldwide context and accepted a fellowship with the American Indian Foundation in India.  There, I worked with communities who were HIV positive.  My work included running an HIV positive person’s community center with career and personal resources as well as fieldwork in the slums to raise awareness about parent to child contraction.  During my time in India, I was also able to develop a sustainable livelihood program for HIV positive, widowed women.

My experiences in India exposed me to extreme levels of poverty, various types of human rights issues, and the challenges of international development work.  I was also deeply inspired by the passion, drive, and endurance of the people and communities that were focusing on a holistic approach to development. It also exposed me to innovative solutions to drive social change. One such project was working with an incredible local team to co-produce, co-direct and perform in a play about domestic violence in South Asia.

Inspired by my field experience, I returned to the US to attend Columbia University where I pursued a Masters in Social Work with a focus on International Social Enterprise and Administration as well as a Master’s in Global Public Health.  The two degrees were my attempt to develop skills to create holistic impact, hence the focus on social and programmatic skills.

My interest in holistic development deepened throughout grad school and led me to co-lead a research project in Aceh, Indonesia.  The project evaluated microfinance programs implemented post-tsunami, in an innovative way by evaluating the impact of microfinance with social indicators and comparing it to the financial indicator evaluations, to identify if a holistic impact existed or not; this research was recently published.

All these experiences enabled me to work as a consultant for international programming, international corporate volunteerism, and ultimately led me to MovingWorlds. I was the first employee at MovingWorlds for a position that was never publicized. After meeting the founders, I helped highlight risks areas and proposed solutions – they offered me a full-time position shortly thereafter.  I was drawn to MovingWorlds not only because of its status as an emerging social enterprise, but more so because of its mission – to empower local organizations to solve last-mile challenges and create jobs, which, from my experience, was something that I knew was critical to creating sustainable change.

As a professional, you facilitate “Experteering” experiences- tell us about it, and what is an “Experteer” exactly?

Experteering is the combination of expertise and volunteering.  We call “Experteers” people who volunteer their skills overseas with social impact organizations for any length of time.

Typically, Experteers are skilled professionals that work on very specific projects that are initiated locally.  The goal of any Experteering engagement is to leave a sustainable impact by addressing a challenge, and also building the skills of the team they support.  At MovingWorlds, we help enable this by sourcing specific projects, providing training on best practices, and facilitating a holistic planning process.

Talk about any emerging trends you see, or stories that are unfolding as MovingWorlds evolves

A strong trend that we are seeing is the individual and non-traditional pursuit of learning and skill building. A lot of Experteers are using international service as a way to build their profiles and prove their passion for globally focused careers. In our own experience we see global service as an important vehicle for building 21st Century leadership. In fact our Experteers have ended up at organizations like the Gates Foundation, industry-leading agencies and have even received promotions after completing international service experiences. This is because employers are looking for people that can operate in ambiguity, show genuine curiosity, and have a proven record of taking initiative and delivering results.

I also find it interesting to see how traditional work paths are adapting. Now, more than ever, you are seeing large companies work with small but innovative companies, and traditional development organizations work with corporations, all to pool their best assets and create a world-wide impact.   A great example of this is outlined in Forbes. As people work towards creating social impact around them, the players are focusing less on their differences and more on their commonalities and unique expertise, and when brought together they are stronger than ever.

What’s on the horizon for MovingWorlds? Any new and exciting updates to share?

Our team has noticed that the number one reason people don’t go Experteering is time away from work. Based on the success of our international corporate volunteering programs, we’ve realized that employers face massive gains by enabling their employees to go Experteering. As such, we are going to roll out some campaigns soon to help any employee at any company make the case for more time off to go travel the world. We like to say that for the price of a conference, we can connect people to the leadership development experience of a lifetime, one that builds a better world in the process.

We also have some new exciting partnerships coming soon with the Impact Hub, Njambre, Kiva Fellows, Unreasonable Institute and Startup Chile.

About MovingWorlds
MovingWorlds, SPC is a Social Purpose Corporation whose mission is to connect people to life-enriching, immersive experiences that create a sustainable impact. Learn more about Experteering on your own, or through an international corporate volunteering program.

MovingWorlds has offices in Seattle, USA; Washington D.C., USA; and Medellin, Colombia.  


 

#IWD – Honoring Women Impact Leaders

International Women's Day

In honor of International Women’s Day the Center for Social Impact Learning will be doing a special series throughout March to celebrate women impact leaders that inspire us. Through interviews and other forms of digital media we will explore how women are shaping and catalyzing the social impact space.

Is there a woman whose leadership has inspired you? If so, contribute to this project by sharing her impact! Contact Nicole Manapol at nmanapol@miis.edu for further details on how you can participate.

Happy International Women’s Day! #MakeItHappen

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