Undercover at Two Feet: Intent

Welcome to the first instalment of Undercover at Two Feet, where we’ll be covering each Two Feet topic as they unfold. From Intent, to Funding and Pitching, to Team and Governance, our Two Feeters are covering a lot of ground this year, and we want to take you inside.

Last week was Week 1 of Two Feet topic 2: Intent, read on to go inside the session and find out what happened..

Date: May 17 2017

Location: Melbourne

Facilitator: Bessi

Session: Intent

Vibe: experimental, deep, slightly cheeky with a sprinkle of sass

Lunch: Pretty gourmet sandwiches served on fancy bread boards and arranged superbly (kudos Bis)

Playlist: we got a taste of Bessi’s experimental streak with a mixture of refreshing old school, Mumford and Sons-esque energy lifters, Portuguese Fado to take us deep into our souls, and corny pop to bring us back to reality.

"I'm allowed to talk about the big, fuzzy vision??"

— Quote of the Day

Key Takeaways: Intent taps into a higher level drive towards that ‘thing’ you want to be part of creating. It starts with an internal search for meaning that resonates with the entrepreneur and organisation first and foremost and anchors you to what is important.

Key Attendants: A saucy mix of international development gurus, local and indigenous food advocates, a housing organisation calling out the lack of integration in housing, a dollop of true mission-driven storytelling brilliance topped with a sprinkle of legal advisory that actually wants to transform our current system.

Key Moments: Hearing and sharing stories of when we had all taken a particular value too far and using this as a measure of truly core values; people thinking that they were ‘crystal clear’ on intent but in some instance being most challenged about their intent.


Case Study: Woodville Alliance

Opportunity

Woodville Alliance are a mid-sized not-for-profit based in vulnerable communities in south-west Sydney, in the areas of mental health, disability services, and early childhood learning. TDi were brought in after the senior management team at Woodville Alliance realised that their initiatives and impact had room to grow, and that they could use this as an opportunity to diversify the organisation’s revenue. Woodville were aware that as an organisation they had traditionally been reactive to funding opportunities, rather than being proactive and predicting what the community might need or want next. Woodville wanted to assess what resources they had in their business already, and how they could use these and innovate, to help them do good and make money.

"I originally felt quite skeptical about the outcomes of the training. But I was very pleasantly surprise when as each segment unfolded I was feeling  more and more confident that as a group we would leave the experience with a solid understanding of how to build a sustainable business as well as having a detailed plan to commence scoping out our own social innovation project"

- Veronique Besnard, Woodville Alliance

The 'Nitty Gritty'

Over three days, TDi principal consultant, Anthea, and TDi consultant, Caroline, undertook a series of workshops, discussions and processes with Woodville Alliance’s senior management team. They began with a session on Intent, to help Woodville Alliance connect with their vision and community context. On Day 1 they also completed an asset assessment and opened the floor to Woodville Alliance’s team to see what opportunities they saw for improvement in their organisation’s programs and initiatives and identify what methods and structures were required to put these opportunities in action.

Day 2 focused on business modelling and refining all of Woodville’s ideas and opportunities for growth. Using the Business Model Canvas, the session aimed to understand how each of the innovative ideas could be implemented into the business. By day 3, two key opportunities had been identified. Chris Vanstone from the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) was brought in by TDi to speak to Woodville Alliance about the importance of piloting and testing new ideas in an efficient way. Woodville then left with a three month plan of how to test out their two key ideas.

“We went into Day 1 of the workshops with Woodville thinking we would need to run activities to bring out ideas for sustainable enterprises from the group. Within an hour we realised every single person had an idea and there was not one person that wasn’t committed to getting something out of the workshops”

- Caroline Sanz, Enterprise Consultant

Outcomes

For an service delivery community organisation like Woodville Alliance, being able to remove themselves from the day to day operations of their organisation, and focus on strategy and growth with TDi and TACSI, was really valuable. Through the three days, Woodville were able to create a solid plan for the future, specifically focusing on how they could deliver services to their community more efficiently and cost-effectively. In addition to this, Woodville Alliance also found a couple of new ways to generate meaningful revenue for their business.

The new initiatives, that the organisation will be testing over the coming months, allow for strong community connection, create safe spaces for women experiencing domestic violence or isolation, and promote diversity in the workplace throughout their area. Woodville Alliance’s commitment to their community, and making real difference, made them an ideal client to achieve doing good and making money.

More Bespoke Consultancy Case Studies


Why we've Broken Up with Social Enterprise

If you’ve ever experienced a break up, you’ll probably know how we feel right now. We began our relationship with Social Enterprise full of excitement. We saw our shared future together – it was the manifestation of all our hopes and dreams for a better world. We believed that together we could achieve so much more than we could on our own. But after a seven year relationship, the itch has truly kicked in. We’re breaking up. And to be honest it’s because we’re disappointed with Social Enterprise.

It’s hasn’t been easy, and we are feeling pretty heartbroken (there may be a tub of chocolate ice cream coming out tonight!) that Social Enterprise didn’t hold up their side of the bargain. But we’re realists, and we now know that there was a mismatch between our initial hopes and dreams and what Social Enterprise has ended up being.

So what did Social Enterprise do wrong? There were two key breaking points for us.

“Whether it is social enterprise or another term, at the heart of it for me is that holistic invitation and the profound belief that… when you are purpose driven you will be profitable and you will get there".

— Olivia Maclean, panellist, General Manager of Mission Development at Baptcare

The first is that Social Enterprise is increasingly self obsessed and inwardly focused. For some people this is an obsession with the idea of social entrepreneurship, or being a founder. We believe that Social Enterprise has lost some of its initial reason and motivation, and it’s become more about that label of being a ‘Social Entrepreneur’. Obsessing over definitions that are unhelpful, drives limited thinking and limits the impact that we can really be part of creating. Constant naval gazing limits collaboration.

“What these terms have been helpful in doing is to reframe the conversation and get people thinking differently outside their normal silos of activities. And I think that is all that is happening here. I think the social enterprise term has passed its use-by date.”

- Christopher Thorn, panellist, Partner in Social Finance, Impact Investment, and Philanthropy at EY

The second, is the obsessive focus on profit, and what Social Enterprises do with it.

Social Enterprise too often breeds an obsession with labels, and makes entrepreneurs feel they can only make a difference through their profit distribution. For us, this is unsustainable, and totally misses the point. There is an underlying laziness in finding a nice, flashy term that you can call yourself, rather than do the work to figure out how your business is actually doing good in the world.

“If you limit the good you can do in the world, to what you do with your profit, or even worse, what you do with a percentage of your profit, you have completely missed the point”

- Bessi Graham

Social Enterprise for us became a partner who lost his way. Social Enterprise lost sight of what it originally set out to do, which was to work to create better social or environmental outcomes.

These obsessions and definitions have trapped Social Enterprise in the very problem it was trying to escape– the scarcity mindset that plagues the charitable not-for-profit space. There are already enough organisations competitively fighting over shrinking pools of capital in a philanthropic and government space. We don’t need more grant reliant organisations – we need enterprises with sustainable, high impact business models – and that’s what we would call a business that’s doing good and making money.

"I know a lot of people who work and come up to you with big ideas and will talk about being a social enterprise and I would try to go one layer deeper to the business model and normally it didn’t exist!”

— Eyal Halamish, panellist, co-founder and CEO at OurSay

We thought that Social Enterprise would open up new pools of capital. But by trapping Social Enterprise in the definition of a grant-reliant-not-for-profit-with-some-kind-of-trading-that-reinvests-or-redistributes-part-of-its-profit, it’s still in the same category. When you can’t access broader pools of capital – how is that different from operating as a charity? Why create a label and call yourself something else, if it doesn’t actually change the game of where you play or how you play?

So what does this break up mean?

“The idea of breaking up with social enterprise is in no way a breaking up with those people who call themselves a social enterprise. But social enterprise as an idea has come to a place where our relationship doesn’t work anymore”

- Bessi Graham

We promise, we won’t be changing our phone number, we’re not being overly dramatic, we can still be friends. We’re not changing who we are as an organisation – TDi remains committed to the vision of bringing together doing good and making money. We will continue to work with groups, whatever they call themselves, to identify opportunities to build sustainable business alongside social or environmental impact. What we are interested in, is the impact you’re trying to have in the world – regardless of your legal structure.


Movers, Shakers & Changemakers: May

Welcome to the May edition of Movers, Shakers and Changemakers. Once a month we highlight our favourite enterprises in the social and environmental sector. These are businesses that are proving you can do good and make money.

Read on to hear the stories of some enterprises doing great things in the space. First up, a Melbourne streetwear brand changing lives.

HoMie

"If we don't have a successful business, we can't have an impact"

— Nick Pearce, co-founder of HoMie

HoMie’s second venture is their Pathways Project. The project provides traineeships to young people who are experiencing homelessness or who are at-risk. The traineeships are undertaken in HoMie’s Fitzroy store where young people are trained, employed, mentored, and end the six month program with a Certificate III in Retail Operations. The trainees are then guaranteed employment with Cotton On. To date HoMie have helped 6 young people find secure employment. We love this project as it really proves that through running a successful business, you can change people’s lives. Watch Hayley’s story:

SHE Investments

SHE (support her enterprise) Investments was started to empower and support women business owners and leaders in Cambodia. 65% of businesses in Cambodia are run by women, but most are informal and small. SHE Investments are working to change this through their bespoke business development programs. They want to promote gender balance in the SME market in Cambodia by helping women to run scalable, sustainable and impactful businesses.

"Our vision is a world where investment in women entrepreneurs in developing countries is seen as opportunity, not charity"

— Celia Boyd, Managing Director of SHE Investments

SHE Investments run programs that focus on the development of leadership skills and confidence; teach business leaders how to accelerate growth and impact; and provide general access to information, training, mentoring and financing. At present, SHE Investments are 50% self-funded, and work every year to grow this number. We love their commitment to helping change women’s lives through business, we also love their drive to be self-sustaining.

North Home

NORTH are combining local indigenous art with luxury homeware products. The enterprise operates out of the Northern Territory and work closely with three incredible artists from around the top end. NORTH’s aim is to contribute meaningfully to the preservation of pride and independence among Indigenous artists, while broadening the exposure and availability of their historically important artworks, that are often not seen in urban areas of Australia.

"A major element of NORTH’s mission is to create a way to share the stories and raw talent of artists from remote communities"

- Crystal Thomas, North Home founder

Through purchasing the artwork produced by artists living in community, NORTH Home are providing income to Indigenous Australians allowing them to remain living in, and connected to, their communities. We love NORTH’s philosophy and commitment to bringing Indigenous art to the forefront of homeware design, and supporting people living in community.


Introducing 2017's Sydney & Brisbane Two Feeters!

Sydney

Brisbane


Exploring the Tension between 'Doing Good' & 'Making Money'

This blog was written by TDi’s Pacific Investment Readiness Program Lead, Anna Moegerlein.


TDi exists to awaken the possibility of doing good and making money; this deeply motivates us and shapes how we work with businesses and not-for-profits. However until recently, I didn’t realise how difficult this can be, and how deep my own dualism often runs.

Socrates, Plato and later Descartes held that the immaterial mind and the material body are two completely different types of substance. For nearly 2,500 years this dualist thinking, deeply rooted in Greek philosophy, has more often led us to compartmentalise and separate things, rather than acknowledging integration and interdependence.

We can see this today in the way our education system is structured, with the liberal arts separate from the sciences and commerce; or in how see ourselves as separate from the natural environment, as if we exist independently from it; and we see it in how we separate our profit-making from ‘doing good’ in business.

The thing is, TDi’s work in the South Pacific is teaching me much more about integrated business than I ever could have discovered in my own culture. Last month, we went to Samoa to set social outcome metrics for an impact investment. We had been referring to our trip as a ‘social measurement trip’. But the trip turned out to be much more than just agreeing on social indicators. Our interviews with farmers revealed a lot more about the health of the business and our investment than just expected social returns. It opened up a whole world of risk and opportunity. Our conversations over two days were the best due diligence we could have done on the business.

For the last 5+ years, TDi has been focused on building blended value business models; businesses that – by design – are scalable and do more good as you scale them. However, we have still been unhelpfully falling in the trap of associating the ‘social’ part of our work primarily with impact measurement. We are now trying to change our language and practice to something more integrated. We are looking at risk and opportunity, which is driven by both financial and social factors. We are trying to ensure the social analysis is integrated with the business and financial analysis, rather than sitting as the final tab on the spreadsheet.

While not every business in the South Pacific is committed to supporting community outcomes, Polynesian and Melanesian culture often supports the idea of the two going hand in hand – with the ‘social’ being embedded in the business from the outset. I recently asked a Samoan colleague if he thought a local business owner took social impact seriously. He found it an odd question and answered that since the business owner is Polynesian himself, he would of course be committed to community development.

I wonder if there is a word with a different etymology to the English word ‘business’ (which has its roots in busyness and anxiety). I haven’t found it yet, but it seems we need a better word to describe the possibility of integration, of doing ‘do good and make money’. If you know of one I’d love to hear it.