Every year we hold a training week in a different location, we get the team together to discuss ideas and share learnings. With our investment and portfolio teams based all around the world, these weeks are vital to refine our investment process and ensure we are doing the best job we can. This year, with Social Business Day moving from Bangladesh to India, we headed to Bengaluru to join our India team. Teams came from our country offices in Brazil, Colombia, Uganda, Kenya and Germany.
First off, we visited the Ignis Careers Office in Hyderabad, where the entrepreneurs Rennis and Imma gave us an update on how the social business is getting on since our investment. Ignis Careers offer training for teachers in English classes and life skills lessons. They target affordable private schools, where many of the children are living below the poverty line, so the classes have a huge impact on the opportunities of the children. They focus on the style of learning which teaches children about their surroundings and makes the lessons relevant for them, to ensure they build confidence and, most importantly, have fun. We visited two schools that were taking part in the Ignis program and the YSB team even took part in an example lesson.
We then visited the offices of Waste Ventures to learn about how they are collecting waste from waste pickers to provide them with a stream of income, whilst diverting plastics from landfills. We heard from the entrepreneur Roshan on how they operate as a business and had a tour around the facility.
With the YSB funding they were able to construct a new processing building.
We were then humbled to be able to visit a colony for waste pickers. We learnt a little about their lives, moving on from place to place as they are unable to settle permanently without owning their own land. Waste Ventures provides the waste pickers with collection of the plastics from their home. They collect at a fixed rate price, and also collect higher value waste streams, making it easier for the waste pickers to sell everything they collect. Waste ventures is reaching over 1,500 waste pickers with their services at present.
Inspired by visiting the businesses we have already funded in India, Day 2 saw the start of our training and learning. For two days we looked at a variety of topics; Strategy, Progress Targets, Financing Tools, Learnings from our current portfolio, Impact Measurement, Training and Exchange and Branding and Communications.
For the first time Social Business Day was held in Bengaluru, celebrating the family of Yunus organisations and the social business movement. This year’s theme was focussing on Prof. Muhammad Yunus’ new book ‘A World of Three Zeros’; zero unemployment, zero carbon emissions and zero poverty. The event was attended by delegates from all over the world spreading the message of social business and our team were speaking on different panels covering a variety of topics, from financing to the circular economy.
The event coincides every year with Yunus' birthday - so the evening held his birthday celebrations, with a cake featuring his appearance in 'The Simpsons'!
To wrap up the learnings of the week we held our final workshopping sessions in the beautiful YSB India offices. We were joined by Professor Yunus and ate a traditional Indian meal served on a banana leaf.
In such a global team, these yearly meetings are important to share learnings, but they are also an incredibly fun and powerful bonding tool between the different country teams.
We are already looking forward to next year!
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