End-of-year reflection for 2017

The end of the year is approaching once again. Time seems to be “accelerating” recently.

I strongly believe in the value of debriefs at the end of a calendar year, and at the end of a difficult project which did not go as expected.

Formal reflection or debriefs also provide value to non-profit organizations and social enterprises. They help to accelerate learning. I’ve recently facilitated several end-of-year reviews for my clients, and the sessions have proven insightful. I encourage you to schedule time to reflect before this year ends.

Here are some extracts from my review before I took leave on 15 December 2017 for a much-needed break. It sheds some insights into my work with non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa.

The many facets of social enterprise

I see “social enterprise” as a multi-faceted concept, much like a gemstone will appear differently when examined from different perspectives. Social enterprise is a “concept space”, rather than just a “business space”.

This approach has served me well in my consulting work. It has given me a framework and language to explain things and support organizations on their journey. It has provided social entrepreneurs with increased strategic clarity.

This thought-piece unpacks the six principle facets of social enterprise as I see it.

What do we mean by “organizational sustainability”?

Non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa are desperately striving to become “sustainable”. I believe that organizations should have a broader view of “sustainability” and be precise when discussing it. This will make it much easier for these organizations to develop “sustainability strategies”.

This short article explores 10 facets of “organizational sustainability”.

Ten principles that guide my strategy work

My strategy work is guided by a set of philosophies or beliefs that have evolved over the past two decades. These principles permeate all my strategy work while giving it a unique flavour. They help me to get the results I desire. Here are the top 10 that stand out.

Thinking about income generation and profit in a non-profit world

Non-profit organizations and social enterprises that wish to design sustainability strategies need to have clarity around the concepts of income generation and profit, and how to achieve them.

This article aims to debunk some misconceptions around income generation, equity investments, loan finance, and the profits or surpluses that these organizations may generate or receive.

It explains that income and profit emerges from how an organization transacts with its customers. This approach will require organizations to learn new skills, practice new habits and adopt a different mindset. Although embarking on this process may feel intimidating at first, the benefits of being in a stronger strategic and financial position should make it worthwhile.

Social enterprise in South Africa: reflection on trends in 2016

Every December I reflect on the trends among social enterprises in South Africa. I find this exercise very valuable. This year I’ve decided to share my reflection with you.

Here are the top 10 interesting issues or trends I’ve observed in 2016. Note that this is a personal reflection of my experiences; not an unbiased and objective analysis of the sector.

Choosing the right legal form for your social enterprise: insights from a strategy consultant

Many social entrepreneurs are starting out on their journey to change the world, and considering registering an organization. However, there is a drastic shortage of practical information on the type of legal form they should choose for their social enterprise.

This article from February 2016 aims to clear up some of this confusion.

It discusses the pros and cons of the various legal forms available to social enterprises in South Africa. It shows how much opportunity there is and helps to dispel some misconceptions. It encourages social entrepreneurs to launch a brand and immerse themselves in their work. The best legal form for their social enterprise will emerge; in cannot always be determined upfront.

Social entrepreneurship in South Africa

This article was commissioned by the Red Bull Amaphiko programme in 2015. It highlights the considerable need for social entrepreneurs in South Africa. It discusses the various challenge and opportunities facing these social entrepreneurs. It also quotes some well-known leaders in the sector such as Pat Pillay from LifeCo UnLtd and Francois Bonnici from the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The true power of procurement: building a case for social enterprises

Even though South Africa’s social enterprise market is relatively young, the potential of using social enterprises to channel procurement spend to have a powerful social impact should act as a source of real hope for all of us. In this article I discuss how corporates can unlock this potential and overlay their existing procurement processes with a deeper sense of responsibility. I also discuss the value of committing to a more careful selection of suppliers.

This article was published in the Impact Magazine in October 2014 which was released at a conference on enterprise development.

Scaling CSI programmes

‘Scaling social impact’ is an increasingly popular concept, but what does it mean and is it achievable in CSI? How can CSI programmes balance tight budgets with achieving audacious outcomes? In this article I discuss when it is appropriate for a CSI department to consider scaling its social impact and provides some suggestions on how to achieve this.

This article was published in the Corporate Social Investment Handbook (2014) by Trialogue Publications.

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