e-mail: info@projectcordillera.org

The do’s (and, eventually, don’ts) of building a social enterprise

20th March 2014

Over the last few years, I’ve been lucky enough to have been around many people trying to create social enterprises – businesses with a social aim at their core – across industries as diverse as travel, healthcare and micro-finance. As Project Cordillera matures, and goes on its own journey, I wanted to share some of the things we’re encountering. Hopefully it helps to lift the lid on what we’re about, and it might even be useful for you in whatever you’re doing!

So, do…

1. Have a big vision. It might take years to come close to delivering what you really want to achieve, but having a long term goal will guide short term decisions and give you energy when you need it most.

2. Embrace commercial principles and business models. In order to have  the greatest social impact possible, you need to have a profit. This is one of the greatest pitfalls for start up social enterprises, something that many organisations learn the hard way

3. Mind the gap. Being clear on the unique value you intend to bring, and how it fits with people’s existing lives and motivations and the ecosystem of services that already surround them. This will help you achieve an impact where it is needed and where it is wanted.

4. Collaborate. We spend a lot of time discussing ideas with others, such as where to work, what we want our portfolio to look like, and even how best to improve the experience of the of visiting our website!

5. Follow and do. Most of the greatest things achieved in history were because of the combination of a great idea and someone with the vision to deliver it. Its a rare thing, so if you find that, rally behind it, contribute, learn, build and explore. 

One thing I haven’t listed but that is incredibly important to us is transparency and openness. We hope that this blog is a chance to open up Project Cordillera in a collaborative and sharing way. We are proud of what we are doing and have nothing to hide. It is in this vein, that I’ll share some of the ‘don’ts’ in a later post. 😉

Jon Govender, Friday 21st March 2014

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