How social entrepreneurs can best equip themselves and their ventures to survive tough times and serve their communities.

by Servane Mouazan

There are opportunities even in the most difficult moments.

Wangari Maathai

As many countries are experiencing tough and uncertain times, there is no self-indulgence in taking a step back to explore how you can learn better, grow your impact, and take care of yourself (yes, take time for yourself) and others (the people you support) better.

It’s worth remembering that social enterprise ecosystems flourish when:

  1. there are many issues in the community that need solving. Places with optimal well-being and prosperity (though they are rare) see fewer social enterprises popping up, don’t they?
  2. individuals take focused actions, professionalize their activism, and use economic tools to create viable solutions.
  3. there is a will among various stakeholder groups, including the state, to reduce red tape, break silos, and push for creative solutions on the ground.

Women-led social enterprises

A recent study by the British Council launched in UK, Pakistan, USA, Brazil, and India, highlighted innovation led by women, and the benefits that social enterprises could offer women and girls. But it also uncovered a plethora of issues that are perpetuating gender inequalities and stereotypes, and reducing access to capital.

The findings of the study are presented in this webinar: Social Enterprise and Women’s Empowerment

Ideally, social enterprises shouldn’t be platforms where women are locked in, separated from the profitable economy, with restricted or reduced avenues to change inequalities at scale. It is still tough for a woman to be invited to the decision-making table, even when she has years of traction, and a lot of evidence of success. When she is invited, often she is patted on the head for being a “good woman.”

Social enterprises should be springboards, not waiting rooms, for women.

Women in social enterprises over the world are telling us that the challenges they face are mounting - the problems they seek to address are growing and becoming more deeply entrenched and national and local funding is being cut. And - despite a great availability of business support - for entrepreneurs seeking technical assistance, the time, money and other resources they need to access it can be prohibitive.

Since we started Ogunte, we’ve been asked repeatedly by social entrepreneurs how they can best equip themselves and their ventures to survive tough times. We respond to these requests by working with them on their personal ecosystems and robust learning plans.

While we don’t know exactly what the future holds, our experience tells us what qualities thriving social entrepreneurs and their ventures display. It is a combination of values and behaviours that involve organizational operations but also individual practice, and discipline.

We have crystallized - and validated - our advice into five areas that you can work on simultaneously, starting today, to strengthen your personal and organizational skills, capacities and resilience.

These five pillars of support focus on: expanding leadership; increasing sustainability; growing a sense of connectedness; growing confidence; and enhancing a sense of learning.

All these areas need to be explored in relation to one another. Some areas will need more or less work than others, depending on your story. We will look at:

  Which pillars you most need to work on
  The questions that you are not asking
  What your future self is holding for you

Stay tuned for our forthcoming series of posts where we will be highlighting resources and tips in each of these areas, over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, save time and get focused by getting your own Beesmap booklet - a DIY toolkit and roadmap to organize your thinking around these support areas.

To follow the 5 pillars’ roadmap, find all worksheets and additional resources below, and all of them in one package here.

Sense of connectedness

Worksheet: Why We all Need a Sense of Connectedness

For additional resources on your sense of connectedness, click here.

Leadership / Visibility

Worksheet: The Leadership Conversation you Haven’t Had Yet 

For additional resources on Leadership, click here.

Sustainability / viability

Worksheet: How to Avoid a Sustainability Crisis in Your Venture

For additional resources on sustainability, click here.

Sense of Learning

Worksheet: 6 ways to Equip Yourself and Your Team with a Sense of Learning 

For additional resources on the sense of learning, click here.

Growing Confidence

Worksheet: 4 Steps to Grow your Confidence

For additional resources on how to grow confidence click here.

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and a certified B Corp
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