Francisco Noguera

Friday Roundup – 10/22/10: New Spaces for Multidisciplinary Collaboration

As the field of patient capital and social enterprise grows, it’s critical that a diverse, multidisciplinary community engages around different roles; business skills are critical, but only part of the solution in the complex context of poverty. This week’s roundup highlight two University-based initiatives that aim in that direction: the Social Enterprise Bootcamp at NYU and Columbia University, and the new Netherlands-based Base of the Pyramid Innovation Center.

The Social Enterprise Bootcamp is a student-led initiative that will engage the growing community interested in social enterprise in New York City. Led and hosted by the public policy schools at NYU and Columbia, it proves that the idea of social enterprise is being embraced among students and practitioners of diverse disciplines like policy making, international development, education, social work, and public health.

Despite this growing interest -and the genuine intention of many of these profssionals to start social ventures- many of the aspiring social entrepreneurs lack some basic skills granted by a business background. This is the gap that the bootcamp seeks to fill. Speakers from leading social enterprises will lead workshops focused on key areas like business planning, financial planning, impact assessment and reporting, strategic business development and partnership, legal structuring, and marketing and communications. The event will also include an “elevator pitch” competition judged by representatives of
Echoing Green, Endeavor, Khunu, and the Unreasonable Institute, and a
“speed networking” event to facilitate connection and catalyze the growth of the social enterprise community in New York.

The bootcamp will take place over two days and be hosted at both NYU and Columbia campuses next November 12th. and 13th. You can learn more and register for the bootcamp here.

* * *

Across the ocean, another multidisciplinary initiative launched recently to accelerate the growth of ventures and innovations serving the Base of the Pyramid. To find out more about the new BoP Innovation Center, I emailed its new director Myrtille Danse with the three following questions. Here are her answers and how you can get involved. What’s the background of the BoP Innovation Center? Which organizations are involved?

Myrtille Danse, BoP Innovation Center: The BoP Innovation Center is an independent entity, based on a strategic partnership with Wageningen University, TNO, Netherlands Development Organisation SNV, Rotterdam School of Management/ London School of Economics Co Creation and Innovation Lab, Organisation for Development Cooperation ICCO, Global Compact Chapter The Netherlands, and a growing number of private partners in The Netherlands, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Can you give our audience an example of the kind of projects you’ll be working on? What’s your first project?

Myrtille Danse, BoP Innovation Center: Our goal is to accelerate the impact and number of market-based, pro poor innovations. We’ll do this by providing an incubating space where the private sector organizations can develop innovations working together with knowledge institutes and civil society organisations in the Netherlands/ Europe and developing countries.

Because we’ll be involved or related to many different innovation trajectories, we will be able to derive learnings and share them with different audiences. Also, the network we have created and the new partnerships we’ll create in the near future will allow us to mobilize a critical mass to influence policy making and contribute to improvements in the enabling environment.

The themes we have identified as critical and will put extra efforts the next four years are inclusive business, social embeddedness, scaling and finance for the BoP. These themes will be developed by engaging in different initiatives, and focusing on three sectors/ development needs: sustainable food, safe drinking water and sustainable rural electrification. One example of this is a project called Ppartnering for Prosperity, which is based on a call for action of the CEOs of DSM, TNT and Unilever to the private sector to invest more proactively in reaching MDG1. Together with Global Compact The Netherlands we will develop the action plan for the periopd 2010-2015, engage Dutch international companies such as Unilever, DSM, Rabobank, Friesland Campina and Rijk Zwaan and create partnerships between these companies and development agencies.

Another project is the development of a sustainable electrification strategy for the Jari region in Brazil. On the request of ICCO and the Brazilian company Grupo Orsa, we’ll engage Dutch and Brazilian energy companies to work on a plan to bring energy to low income communities in the Amazon, in a way that improves their livelihoods and protects the environment.

How can NextBillion readers get involved? How can an organization partner with the Center?

We have just launched our website We’ll soon start to share information for different target groups, create discussion forums and use social media to encourage discussion and exchange of information. NGOs, academic institutions and corporations can get involved by becoming a strategic partner. For this you can contact me, and share your idea to see how we can develop a learning or accelaration initiative.