Putting your mission before the business is a backwards strategy for success. 

Many social entrepreneurs focus on their mission and hope that this will motivate people to come onboard. However, a social business without a strong business strategy  will struggle to succeed.

6 You have your passion for change.

6You have an idea to make that change.

19You know what you want to do and believe that if you Just Do it! things will work out .. somehow.


Having your social goal front and centre isn’t enough – while it will be a prime motivator, it can make you focus on the wrong thing. The fact is  you have to deliver something that people want.

To make positive social change on any meaningful scale  social entrepreneurs need to seriously investigate  “Is there  demand for what I’m selling?”

Robin Chase, the founder and former CEO of car-rental company Zipcar and the founder of peer-to-peer car rental company Buzzcar  says she was criticized for not making the company non-profit. Chase knew she would need significant capital to get Zipcar off the ground and a for-profit business model allowed her to take on investors and raise capital.

“In the venture capital community, they say: ‘Will the dog eat the dog food?’ And so you are a startup and you are producing dog food, and the question is, ‘Will the dog eat the dog food?’ If you think about any social thing you are doing, if you are doing it for purely social reasons, well, then the question is: ‘Is the dog interested?'”

Chase saw Zipcar as a business first and a social enterprise second. While Zipcar gives consumers an alternative to owning a car — an inherently environmentally-friendly and therefore classically social entrepreneurship type of endeavor – that’s not why people buy into the Zipcar model.

“Consumers, or collaborators, will buy a service because it delivers to them what they need in their self-interest,” says Chase. In the case of Zipcar, consumers rent cars because it is more convenient and cheaper than having to maintain a car.

So, whether you are trying to save the planet, feed the hungry, house the poor or create jobs – you need a business strategy that helps you deliver on your mission.




Posted in Community development, social entrepreneurship Tagged with: , ,

Be the Change!

Are you  a changemaker?

IMG_1087Changemakers are people who catalyse social change.  They strive to be the change they want to see in the world, to make an impact for good. Changemakers want to make change happen. They do that by being active in their communities, starting their own projects and building the capacity of  local communities to bring about that change.

My early conversations with social entrepreneurs are often about great life affirming, life changing  ideas. All that enthusiasm for change has to be channeled into a framework that allows you to test your ideas, to make them a reality and it can be hard to know where to start.

So here are some key lessons you need to understand that will help you put your ideas into action:

1.  Follow Your Passion

You will be most successful if you are passionate about the issue you want to change.
Angels for the Forgottenwas started by Melina Skidmore, a young Australian woman who grew up in State Care . Melina understood first hand how tough it can be for young people in care, and especially the challenges they face when moving out of the government’s care system to independent living once  reaching their 16th birthday. Angels is now operating in several communities in Australia, addressing local social needs and Melina has received national recognition for her work as as a Social Entrepreneur.

2.) Think laterally

Thinking outside the square leads to amazing outcomes

An inspiring example of this is  Bart Weetjens. Bart is an Ashoka Fellow  pioneering a new method of de-mining and diagnosing tuberculosis through his organization APOPO: They train rats to sniff landmines and diseases, and empower locals in the affected regions on how to use the use the rats, creating new jobs along the way.  We aren’t all faced with the daunting challenges that Bart is addressing, but what amazing connections he has made between unrelated fields.

3.) Work with communities
Jonathon Welsh OAM and the Choir of Hope and Inspiration  use the power of community to build personal growth and connection, transforming the lives of homeless and socially isolated in Melbourne and beyond.  Jonathon’s work with the then  Choir of Hard Knocks was documented in an Australian ABC TV Documentary series in 2007. Jonathon established Social Inclusion Week  as a way of sharing his ideas across Australian communities and to inspire local changemakers.

4. Believe in Yourself!

You have to understand the foundations of community leadership, of inspiring loyalty and the art of building a team.

Kate and  Steven at   SocialDeck  have launched the IdeasHoist to showcase Australians who are making things happen!  Check out more than 150 inspiring stories from around the country, and find the changemakers living close to you.

5. Be resilient

You have to be able to hang in there, because generating change is hard work.

Not everyone sees your ideas as brilliantly as you do! Here’s another Ashoka example – do you think you could step into Nada’s shoes?

Nada and her team for the venture ‘YouTeach Science Van’ have defied all odds in creating their own organization that shares science demonstrations, experiments, and fun facts with young students. Even amidst Egypt’s political turmoil, they are still pushing their work to foster a sense of love of learning in young students with the belief that education is now more important than ever.

Need some more inspiration to get you started?

Check out this great read! Lauire-Ann Thompson’s Be a Changemaker

Be a Changemaker

When Divine Bradley was seventeen, he just wanted a safe place to hang out away from gangs and violence,         and Team Revolution was born. At age eleven, Jessica Markowitz learned that girls in Rwanda are often not         allowed to attend school, and Richard’s Rwanda took shape. During his sophomore year of high school, Zach        Steinfeld put his love of baking to good use and started the Baking for Breast Cancer Club.

Gone are the days when kids were supposed to be “seen and not heard.” Today, youth everywhere are rising up, building new organizations, and creating the changes they want to see in their communities and around the world. Be a Changemaker gives readers the tools and confidence they need to effect real change. Readers will learn how to:

  • Research ideas
  • Build a strong and passionate team
  • Create a business plan
  • Enlist a savvy adult
  • Plan events
  • Work with the media
  • And more!

Plus, profiles of youth-led social organizations show readers that it’s never too early to become a changemaker.





Posted in Community development, leadership, learning, social entrepreneurship, social impact, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

The NSW Government has released its Social Impact Investment Policy

The NSW Government has released its Social Impact Investment Policy

The policy outlines 10 actions the Government will take to:

  • deliver more social impact investment transactions
  • grow the market and remove barriers
  • build the capacity of market participants.

The policy builds on NSW’s social benefit bonds, which were implemented in 2013. The bonds fund two services – one delivered by UnitingCare Burnside and one by The Benevolent Society – that work with vulnerable families to prevent children from entering out-of-home care or safely return children in care to their families.

A key commitment in the policy is to aim to bring two transactions to market each year. These will not be limited to social benefit bonds. The Government is open to other investment models that involve risk sharing among participants. To help the market prepare for this year’s transactions, the Government also:

  • released a Statement of Opportunities 2015, which identifies the Government’s priority areas for the next transactions and the process for their development
  • announced a series of market sounding events for interested parties to get more information on the priority areas.

The Government also announced the Expert Advice Exchange, delivered in partnership with Sydney’s leading law firms, to provide pro-bono legal advice for non-profits and social enterprises that want to participate in social impact investment.

The NSW Government believes that social impact investment offers opportunities to improve outcomes for the people of NSW by encouraging innovation and partnerships with other sectors. It also has a focus on measuring and achieving results so the Government can be confident of investing in services that work.


Posted in Social Impact Investing Tagged with: , , , , , ,

The Climate Leader -understanding responses to climate change

The Climate Leader is a free introductory training series in systems thinking to help fuel the global response to climate change. Through a series of 11 videos and additional materials this series will help you to be more effective at addressing climate change by enabling you to see the interconnections and big picture in your work.

Designed for people unfamiliar with systems thinking fundamentals like feedback loops, leverage points, and causal diagramming, this can be a launching point to a whole new way of looking at the world.



Posted in leadership, learning, systems thinking Tagged with: , , , ,