Impact Investing in Brazil

Business for social development.. take 1

Impact Investing in Brazil

On social enterprise careers

April 6th, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

As I rummaged my Easter-vacation bound-brain for inspiration on this week’s blog entry, I chanced upon a webinar by Edge – a globally oriented talent-building group for the impact investing space. Do keep them in mind if you share my quest for landing a job in this young and exciting field. The webinar was facilitated, incidentally, by CEO of Potencia Ventures Kelly Michel and Coordinator of ANDE Polo Brasil Rob Parkinson.

Rob categorized opportunities for employment in the field based on the stakeholders involved: 1. investors, 2. capacity development providers (e.g. accelerator and incubator programs) and 3. back-office service providers (any services needed by social enterprises that are typically outsourced). For either of the three, it seems that skill sets from the traditional business space would be simply transferred to serve the impact business space. As I look for places to take my development degree, a question that comes to mind is how important is knowledge in social development versus technical business skills for actors in the social enterprise arena…tbd

Back to the grouping, however, let’s start with investors. Investors look for business analysts, fund-raisers and fund managers, and here I’d like to try and unwrap the terminology a little, as I have no clue what either of them do. Business analysts, though it seems the definitions are fuzzy from both the theory and practice, define and solve business problems. Most definitions focus on the IT field, and paint the BA as a liaison between some technical function groups and the business itself. Fund-raisers seems more straightforward, and probably includes skills like designing a fundraising strategy, grant-writing, risk analysis and the like. Fund managers seems to be a more senior position describing somebody who makes investment decisions based on analysts’ work.

The next grouping provided in the webinar was capacity development providers for social enterprises, e.g. accelerators, incubators and the like. These types of institutions, most of which are set up as non-profits, need consultants, trainers and mentors. Consultants can work in any area from developing an accelerator’s methodology to mentoring entrepreneurs under acceleration, advocating for the social enterprise field in a given country or region, or selecting enterprises for acceleration. Trainers, I assume, are technical assistance providers for the enterprises receiving support. Mentors will be a more senior position, targeted at people with business experience they are willing to share with high-impact startups.

Back-office service providers was a new term for me.. Here webinar facilitator Rob was referring to any work that social enterprises themselves typically outsource to third parties, including financial, legal services, graphic design and so forth. I don’t see any social enterprise graphic designers appearing on the market any time soon, but if this movement manages to prove itself worthy, why not?

In conclusion… I both found this classification useful in terms of thinking about social enterprise careers, and thought it provides good points to consider when trying to brand yourself for the field. One category I would perhaps like to add is field builders. Though #2 in the classification – capacity development providers – i.e. accelerators do considerable road paving for social enterprise in given regions, there’s definitely room for connectors and integrators, if you will.. Due to an impinv/socent craze we’re seeing these days, there’s lots of doing, but reflecting is not catching up yet. Researchers analyzing and synthesizing the various data that’s becoming available on either the impact or the business side of things will probably become very sought after by either side as the boom wears off and validation of the concepts being tried out becomes a necessity rather than an marketing element.

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