A BENISI masterclass on scaling social innovation was tailored for the needs and profiles of the participants at an exceptional Impact Hub Network knowledge sharing event that took place in Cluj-Napoca in Romania in June, the Unlikely Allies summit. Knowledge and learning accumulated thus far through the project were disseminated and discussed. It was an excellent opportunity to place BENISI project alongside well renowned practices of social innovation and social entrepreneurship driving collective impact at regional scale.
The “How to Scale Your Impact” masterclass on the 16th of June was only one of the 12 masterclasses delivered by local and global experts who came to share knowledge on diverse topics from social impact to critical thinking to eco-system awareness. SIAN members and BENISI Consortium partners got the chance to meet over 220 diverse ecosystems actors, from entrepreneurs to business representatives to the civil society and the public sector.
“I was extremely happy we could have both Alberto Masetti-Zannini and Vincent de Coninck present and open to deliver a workshop on the Scaling learnings an experience of the BENISI project and other initiatives at the moment in Europe, part of our Unlikely Allies event, particularly on the open day of the conference. The open day gathered other 400 participants that opted to participate in the +12 workshops, to learn and connect more on topics related to innovation and impact. As an organiser of the event, this workshop was definitely of great value to our intent, to connect more the local and global ecosystem players interested in advancing the social innovation and impact creation.” Oana Paun, Impact Hub Bucharest Co-Founder
Here it is some of the learning Vincent De Coninck shared with the 20+ attendants to the “How To Scale Your Impact” masterclass on June 16th, 2015:
GROWTH STRATEGIES DIFFER BETWEEN NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
Whilst the North focuses more on SMART growth (mainly encouraging innovation in approaches to address societal and environmental challenfes), the South focuses on INCLUSIVE growth (maily helping people integrate in the communites where they live).
CAPACITY SUPPORT STRATEGIES: FAST AND SLOW
The “slow low down first” strategy comes into place when we sense that the venture is not quite ready to scale. It is the coaching role that tipically adds most value in this case. The robustness and size of the societal impact achieved and the business model used are being challenged.This reality check and push back proves to be very much appreciated by the scalers. The “plug in, speed up strategy” is applied when the venture has got a lot into place already, and all it needs is an extra push: funding, exposure, contacts, and/or an experienced piece of advice. The special knowledge acquisition process can be speeded up. The scaler can be readily exposed and introduced to key partners.
SCALERS AND THE NETWORK BENEFITS
Those with bandwidth, entrepreneurial and political skills seem to be at the winning edge. It is essential to free up time and energy to effectively leverage the BENISI assets. It was found that only a small minority (+- 10%) of scalers are particularly skilled at activating and leveraging the network to best fit their needs. These scalers notably have enough bandwidth to absorb and quickly respond to the special insights and customized information shared.
SCALERS AND THEIR SCALING PATHWAYS
Predominantly alone or undecided. The majority of BENISI sample so far (82%), are scalers with a revenue-generating activity. This may well suggest that having a revenue-generating model makes social innovators eager to scale at a competitive edge. Two interesting findings stand out: Most of revenue-generating “scalers” state they are open to partner but still they mostly scale alone, most commonly through building up own capacity or branching. 2. Half of the “scalers” are undecided about the scaling pathway. This in line with the intuition that social innovators have a tendency to adopt an effectual logic, given they face high cross-border uncertainty, access limited resources and the importance of network dynamics.
SCALING SUPPORT PRACTICES
Fast-evolving and experimental. Within BENISI network of networks, there is an impressive on-going amount of experimentation. The vast and vibrant experimentation process confirms the fact that there is no consensus yet on which scaling support approaches are most appropriate and effective. BENISI exploits this diversity to reflect over all experiments, and takes stock of differences and similarities, and relative success.
And a few words from David McConville, Chairman Buckminster Fuller Institute, that well summarize the actions BENISI project is fostering for social entrepreneurs, and not only.
“And the most important thing a social entrepreneur can understand, is that we shouldn’t be assuming that just because we have a good idea it’s going to work by default anywhere. That we have to build relationships, we have to build practices that really help to make our idea appropriate for the places where we are trying to implement them.”
Watch the entire interview with David McConville, Chairman Buckminster Fuller Institute and Thomas Velacott, CEO at WWF Switzerland talking about the need of a common goal for a truly sustainable economy and society, to get a sense of the Impact Hub Unlikely Allies summit