As a philanthropic investment fund, we fund entrepreneurs to scale their social businesses to impact the lives of their clients with essential products and services or higher incomes. But how can our donors and partners feel more connected to the work we do?
Of course, you can see things first hand for yourself - we run annual trips for our partners to visit the businesses we support in East Africa. But it isn’t always possible to go directly to Uganda, India or Colombia. So we thought about other ways we could showcase our game-changing businesses.
With the recent accessibility of 360 cameras. many businesses and nonprofits are exploring the possibilities of virtual reality to communicate their message and we wanted to give it a go for ourselves! On our most recent team Training Week the global teams visited our office in India. We visited two of our portfolio companies with a 360 camera to see if we could capture the social businesses in action.
Firstly, we visited Ignis Careers, a social business that provides English and Life Skills Classes to underprivileged children. Their courses that use an interactive style of education to engage the children and make the English classes more relevant to their lives. To ensure the impact continues, they then train the teachers the same techniques. They have seen some incredible results, particularly with girls attending school for longer in the schools that they have reached, with their programmes.
Want to take part in one of the lessons? You can dive into the middle of the classroom in the video below:
The next business that we visited is called Waste Ventures. They service around 13 different waste picker colonies, one of which we visited with the 360 camera. Despite their prominently positive role, the lives of waste pickers are plagued by low and irregular incomes, low social standing, as well as unfair pricing through the unregulated waste collection sector dominated by informal players. As well as ensuring that waste is diverted from landfill and recycled, Waste Ventures provides up to 25% additional income to 1,200+ waste pickers the work with and improves their long-term living standards. They do this by standardising prices and ensuring a transparent collection process with upfront payments.
First, we visited the waste picker colony where the waste pickers both live and work. They live in very difficult conditions as they are illegally on the land, they could be moved at any time. That’s why it’s difficult to build long-term accommodation and sanitation systems. Waste Ventures come to the waste picker colony to weigh the waste that has been collected and then take it away to be processed. This collection would not be happening without the intervention of Waste Ventures.
The waste is then taken to the waste collection facility to be processed. This is where we visited next! You can see for yourself the facility where the plastics are sorted. Waste Ventures directly employees around 105 employees at the facility, 90 staff and 15 managers:
With new technologies improving all the time, the possibilities of experiencing the sights and sounds of a waste picker colony on the edge of Hyderabad in India. We are excited to see how the technology improves so we can demonstrate our social businesses and the fantastic work that they do.
These have been difficult times for our portfolio companies. They are working hard to protect those they employ and serve. In India, Waste Ventures recycle plastic and improve the lives of waste pickers. As they are dependent on revenues from previous months to meet their expenses, the abrupt pause to their activities has made their ability to pay their workforce much more difficult.
IKEA Foundation and Yunus Social Business carried out a 6-month joint research project, getting to the bottom of this question: With ever more organisations joining social-business ecosystems, how can we all start to plug the gaps in the support landscape?
Naveen was born and raised in a small village outside Varanasi in Northern India. All his life, he grew up around manual rickshaw drivers carrying people to and from the city, it’s backbreaking work for very little pay. He saw that very often the rickshaw cyclists came from some of the most vulnerable communities, frequently associated with drug and alcohol abuse.
Nominate a corporate social intrapreneur for a scholarship for the Unusual Pioneers platform until Feb 28th. The Unusual Pioneers is a joint initiative by Yunus Social Business, Porticus, and Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, sister organisation of the World Economic Forum.
Tom Schneider is one of our dedicated mentors from MAN Truck & Bus, here he has published his thoughts and unique perspectives of his mentoring experience with the MAN Impact Accelerator.
The ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes once famously noted that: “we have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less“. The act of listening as a means of truly understanding an entrepreneur is an important skill when it comes to tackling the challenges they face.