Mid-Point Reflections of the MAN Impact Accelerator

At the halfway point through the program we find ourselves sitting back and reflecting over the last five months. And what a fine journey of progress and development it’s been. We’ve seen our entrepreneurs learn and share all sorts from methodologies to frameworks to general advice about life and business. One thing is for sure: our participants have already made astounding progress in the first half of their journeys and they show no signs of slowing down.

It’s truly fantastic to work with such a humble and committed group. Watching them apply their learnings from the program each week and seeing the profound effect on their social businesses is hugely rewarding. We get to see a variety of interesting and unique businesses grow exponentially in a number of ways. We’re sure there’s been a lot of unforgettable memories created in the progress, too.

For the full story and a better picture of our general mid-program review, watch the latest video of the MIA in Cape Town:

We love cape town; and not just because of the sunshine, the hype around innovation and startups. We love it because this is the home of our 3rd program week with 8 social businesses and 30+ mentors that make up the MAN Impact Accelerator program. In this beautiful city we are lucky enough to see the whole accelerator team participate in three hands-on days of  ‘Organizational Development’ and ‘Impact’ - packed full of mentoring, valuable insights, and an inspiring enthusiasm from all those involved.

MAN Impact Accelerator
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We Think Social Impact First

At YSB we pride ourselves on being able to bring in our expertise in the accelerator program through alliance building, funding opportunities, mentor matching and personal development. However, the most important thing for us is the true strategic role at the heart of the business: to make sure we create maximum social impact as we develop and nurture our social enterprises.

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The social impact sector in Cape Town faces a landscape that is both exciting and full of opportunity, but also one that is uncertain. Effectively unlocking the opportunity of this ecosystem for our social businesses requires knowledge of the industry, the structure of our enterprises, and the relevant the skill-set in demand. By understanding these three things,  we can achieve clarity and insights on what’s required to effectively scale and develop our enterprise’s strategies and translate ideas into tangible solutions with the potential to improve millions of lives. Our program includes two mentoring days run with the help of experts who are on the front lines of the impact space from numerous disciplines. We ensure this mentoring is always honest, inspiring and completely full.  We have found that the entrepreneurs report a better understanding of the impact and value each of the social businesses after these sessions and are able to better help expand this impact in various geographies across the globe.

Achieving Organizational Excellence

All organizations are resource limited & all decisions are resource-based”

— Bruce Lachney, HR Mentor

When a city triples in size, the productivity per person increases. When a company triples in size, the opposite happens. We ran an HR and Organizational Structure mentoring day which was focused on helping our social businesses design a successful, well-articulated organisational model for scaling. This included everything that relates to this discipline such as company culture, policies, governance and strategic direction. These topics represent a crucial aspect of managing the growth of a startup and they are a challenging process for businesses and organisations of all sizes. The day was spent creating roadmaps for organizational change with a focus on optimizing this model in order to make full use of a business’ workforce. An organisation’s employees are potentially their biggest asset so it is important to empower them and allow them to reach their full potential to maximise their productivity.

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During the morning keynote by Bruce, we discussed a wide spectrum of different organisational models from anarchical, democratic, team, metric, soft hierarchical to strong hierarchical. This revealed that there is no perfect structure or model that solves all HR problems. In fact, the best management often results from tradeoffs that utilise and adapt to the specific workforce at hand in order to reach organizational excellence and capitalise on employee motivation and productivity.

Peer Learning and Skill Sharing

We’ve found we tend to see really productive development in our program when the participants are truly motivated to add value and contribute to the discussion. Although the entrepreneurs in our program vary in their sectors, their business models and their scale, we have seen a huge amount of progress result from cohort discussions during our weekly mentoring sessions. Despite the different skill-set amongst the cohort, their journeys are actually very similar since many entrepreneurs share similar struggles to get their feet off the ground.

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So, after we noticed this we made it our effort to ensure our entrepreneurs had the opportunity to have these discussions with others in the program. Although valuable conversations happen quite naturally between them as they discuss accomplishments, strengths and next steps, we thought they could also benefit from some structured time. Instead of leaving these conversations to chance, we wanted to ensure that they could pass on learnings from the various mentoring sessions and apply their own expertise and problem solving to issues that their peers were facing.  

The session was fruitful and much appreciated among those involved. We believe there is no better place to use the term ‘cohort’ than referring to our passionate group of participants that invest in one another, go the extra mile to help each other and openly show their passion to drive relationships and undertake long, productive days in the program.

Day 3: Ecosystem safari

On the last day we hit the road for a fascinating ecosystem safari visiting different social enterprises in Cape Town. Not a moment was wasted on the bus as we took time to pause and reflect from the two days of mentoring, all while connecting with our peers and peeking into vibrant Cape Town through the window. On our first stop we visited Shonaquip, a social enterprise that helps disabled children enjoy a better quality of life through posture support wheelchairs, mobility equipment & positioning devices. After this, we met the inspiring The Clothing BANK that empowers unemployed and marginalised mothers through enterprise development so they can become financially and socially independent. On our last stop we met Where Is My Transport and learnt how to make transport more accessible, efficient and safe in developing countries.

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This ecosystem visit was incredibly eye-opening after our Impact and Organizational mentoring days since we had the unique opportunity to discuss how the companies deliver social impact through the different tools and resources they use for systems change and how they have scaled to increase capacity. Through these three examples of inspiring and competent businesses, we learnt that a truly good business is one that connects and improves the social, environmental and financial environment in a beautifully efficient balancing act.

On to San Francisco

Having celebrated the last five months of progress, development and social impact, we are very much looking forward to the next three, which includes a program week in SF.

If you’re interested in learning more about our program and exploring the type of thing we do then we’d love you to join us at the closing ceremony. Meet us in Munich in June to celebrate the successful completion of this year’s accelerator program so we can toast another year of social impact and inspiring businesses.