What do a social entrepreneur, an engineering manager, a government employee, and a retired software marketing executive have in common?
You might be surprised to learn that they share a desire to make a high-leverage contribution to making world a better place.
But how can they each maximize their impact?
One way is by bringing them together for three days in a carefully designed partnership that plays to everyone’s strengths. Here is an example of how this was done in early 2016.
Dr. Poonchai and His Partnerships for Social Impact
Dr. Poonchai Chitanuntavitaya is one of many aspiring social entrepreneurs in Thailand. His nonprofit organization is piloting a program to train women coming out of prison to be massage therapists. His early pilots have been successful and have led Dr. Poonchai to ponder how this model can be scaled up.
He learned of a workshop being sponsored by American technology company Seagate, the Thai Social Enterprise Office, and the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Dr. Poonchai applied and was accepted, and a few weeks later found himself at Seagate’s Bangkok factory in a training room with 15 other social entrepreneurs from around Thailand.
The 3-Day Workshop
The three-day workshop was designed to help entrepreneurs envision and articulate their plan for growth. The entrepreneurs started by describing the social impact of their organization and then fleshed out a business model and financing plan that will allow that business to reach its projected growth.
Then, each entrepreneur was assigned one or two Seagate employees as mentors. The mentors did not know much about the social problems being addressed, but they were quickly able to bond with the entrepreneurs and apply their corporate and engineering skills to help the entrepreneurs create financial projections and value chain diagrams.
The Seagate employees were inspired and humbled by the work of the entrepreneurs. They reported that through the workshop they gained a greater empathy for people who suffer from poverty and other social issues. They also remarked on how determined the entrepreneurs are to succeed despite facing significant challenges.
The Workshop’s Social Entrepreneurship Background
The workshop was designed and facilitated by a team from the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, who had also provided a virtual training course to the mentors ahead of the workshop. Miller Center has a staff of less than twenty, but over a hundred volunteer mentors who have been founders and senior executives of Silicon Valley startups and corporations. Miller Center mentors are paired directly with entrepreneurs or with partner mentors like the Seagate employees. In this way, Miller Center has a global footprint and provides training to over 200 social enterprises per year.
The Thai Social Enterprise Office, a government entity, also played an important role. They recruited the social enterprises, added local context to the workshop materials, and helped with Thai-English interpretation. Neither Seagate nor Miller Center had the knowledge and connections to do these tasks.
By the end of the workshop, the entrepreneurs were able to pitch their growth plans with a new level of precision and confidence. They left the workshop feeling supported, energized, and ready to move their organizations forward.
Clearly, one workshop only moves the needle a tiny bit, but it moved the needle more than any of the participants could have done alone.
So I ask you:
What opportunities do you have for partnerships that could augment your impact?
Do you apply the Claremont Core values of mindfulness, dialog, collaboration, and change to your partner relationships?
Let us know in the comments below.