The conversation around BoP ventures should not be a discussion about whether to launch them, but how to build better ones, Ted London said at the April 9 Ideas to Impact (I2I) hosted by the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.
View the conference short talks and competition presentations here and visit the conference website here.
London, senior research fellow at the William Davidson Institute and the conference's keynote speaker, discussed the contradiction between the growing interest in BoP and social enterprise, and the mixed venture success in the space thus far. He said the BoP community should stop focusing purely on whether BoP ventures are good for the poor, and begin asking how we can serve the poor better.
Specifically, London articulated three key stages that should drive BoP venture development: Design (the co-creation of opportunities); Pilot (orchestrating effective experimentation and managing failure); and Scale (generating co-mingled competitive advantage). He concluded his talk by outlining the "rules of engagement" that should drive work in the BoP. This includes treating the BoP as colleagues and partners, seeking to be unimportant, giving respect and being patient and committed.
London's work "embodies the type of social entrepreneurship that we believe in - a market-based approach to poverty centered on co-creating partnerships and opportunities with the poor," said Victoria Fiore, I2I conference co-chair and Haas MBA student.
The conference is a collaborative event with the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC), an annual social business plan competition aimed at providing mentorship, exposure and seed money to MBA students and graduates looking to develop and launch new social enterprise ventures. The conference centered on several short talks by both local and international active social entrepreneurs who provided participants with valuable lessons from the field.
"The Ideas to Impact conference was intended to be a catalyzing event for social entrepreneurship," said Eileen Chang, I2I conference co-chair and Haas MBA student. "We wanted the conference to be an opportunity for practicing social entrepreneurs, investors, specialists, and academics to come together to share their experiences, discuss questions and problems, and help each other take their ideas and ventures to the next level."
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