It's started again! The first week of this year's MAN Impact Accelerator launched at full throttle and our expectations were met and over-exceeded. It's now time to reflect on some of the highlights of our first program week in Germany which involved meeting the newest batch of startups and mentors for the very first time, valuable purpose and customer mentoring sessions and meeting Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus at our favourite event of the year: The Global Social Business Summit 2018.
The program started with a bang. The founders of the 8 social businesses accepted to the program and the team started trickling in from over 7 different countries to meet each other for the very first time at the Impact Hub in Munich. This marked the start of an intensive 9-month journey so we provided an opportunity for the startups to socialize, break the ice, connect, build synergies, spur creativity and of course, have fun. After the startups learnt about each other's stories, experiences and business models, the team gave an overview of the program, what would be involved and how the entrepreneurs could get the most out of the experience. After 1 morning, there was already fantastic energy in the room and between the cohort. The afternoon was spent mentor onboarding, explaining the 'non-consultant' mentoring approach and how to best engage the entrepreneurs with the right questions.
The mentoring days kicked off with a keynote on purpose by Philip Horvath and customer-centricity by Gianni Cardone and Jan Korsanke. Over a period of 2 days we facilitated over 800 minutes of one-on-one mentoring sessions at the MAN Truck & Bus venue, allowing industry professionals to share their stories and learnings, and our entrepreneurs to discuss the specific challenges they face in their social business.
"The mentors come from a wide range of backgrounds and have different skill sets, and this is what also provides the greatest value to us. We can look at our current situation and our future plans from a 360-degree perspective, identify challenges and opportunities and directly brainstorm on how to tackle both,” said Robert Heinecke from Breeze Technologies about the sessions. "That is something that is particularly unique about the MAN program.”
They received a healthy dose of feedback and advice on the next steps they could take and always we were impressed by the focus, care, and tenacity shown by mentors of the program. “The teams reported not only immense satisfaction and progress from every mentoring session, but a genuine appreciation for being able to connect with such an incredible group of professionals dedicated to helping them achieve success" adds Emil Lamprecht, CEO of Growth Mechanics.
After a packed day of informative mentoring sessions finding their purpose and the direction that makes sense to the heart, the cohort got together for dinners which included guests from a variety of professional backgrounds including investors, where entrepreneurs got the chance to talk about their social business, reflect on their first days in the program, and how to best apply the conclusions of their insightful discussions with the mentors.
2 days filled with inspiration as 800 inspirational thinkers from 55 nations worldwide traveled across the globe to talk about the importance of social business for our planet and society - exchanging their experiences and ideas of 'Building a New Civilization'. The worlds leading forum hosted visionary speakers like former NASA Astronaut Ron Garan, initiator of the Solar Impulse Foundation DR. Betrand Piccard and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus to mention a few.
We got a chance to give our MAN Impact Accelerator a stage at the GSBS. Our program lead, Arunima Singh from Yunus Social Business gave an impulse about the vision and idea behind our program in front of the entire represented social business movement.
This was followed by an expert panel on "The future of mobility and social business", where prominent speakers discussing how today's big corporates and innovative entrepreneurs can shape a sustainable future of mobility together, creating a better future for disadvantaged groups and improve people's lives in a sustainable way of transportation.
Our 8 startups exhibited their social businesses at our own booth and received some fantastic feedback. This provided a unique opportunity for the startups to engage in stimulative discussions with other entrepreneurs, governments, companies, civil society and academics about the best practices and ideas designed to shape the future economic and social system
The pace of the program is rapid and intense but above all, it is an absolute blast. We would like to give a huge thank you to all the team, our partners, mentors and everyone who has been contributing their growth and expertise and supporting our social businesses in the best possible way to make this week happen.
Week 1 has formed some strong ongoing relationships... We are already looking forward to week 2 in Bangalore on the 21st of January
Why do we need a social sector? Shouldn’t businesses create economic opportunities and governments ensure a just distribution of these opportunities and set incentives and boundaries such that the environment is protected?
Earlier this year we took a group of philanthropists and partners to visit some of the social businesses in our portfolio in Uganda including Godson Commodities, Impact Water & Tugende. We also visited Kenya to see some of our pipeline companies.
On 20 March this year, Luis Miguel Botero discovered that his social business, Pomario, faced an existential threat. It was the day that a nation-wide quarantine in Colombia was announced, which was ultimately extended until the end of August. For Botero, as for many business owners, this presented the threat that his social businesses’ revenues would disappear overnight.