MovingWorlds’ Next Move In Social Enterprise ‘Experteering’
Apart from funding, developing talent is perhaps the biggest challenge for social enterprises. No matter how well-rounded the team, some skillsets will prove elusive, and that skills gap can lead to a chasm. Four years ago, Mark Horoszowski and Derk Norde co-founded MovingWorlds to connect business veterans with aspiring social entrepreneurs in an exchange it calls “experteering.” This month, the firm launched the MovingWorlds Institute to help skilled professionals transition to social impact careers. Horoszowski told NextBillion that the institute’s mission is to help members find skills-based volunteer projects overseas, and then provide them coaching, mentoring, industry exposure and a global network. Once these professionals graduate, they’ll have both the confidence and resume to negotiate a promotion, launch a new initiative or even embark on a new career.
Scott Anderson: Can you first provide the elevator summary of MovingWorlds?
Mark Horoszowski: In 2010, I spent a year traveling and volunteering my own skills around the world. During this “global volunteering adventure” I met Derk Norde and we bonded over our desires to help get expertise to the parts of the world that need it most. After launching MovingWorlds to the public as a social enterprise in 2012, we were approached by corporations who asked us to help build out programs for them, including Microsoft, Siemens and Kering. After sharing the impact and leadership development benefits of our programs in conferences, and in publications like HBR and SSIR, we decided to combine our curriculum, content and amazing network to launch a new initiative, the MovingWorlds Institute.
SA: Norde wrote on NextBillion in 2013 that MovingWorlds was created as a Match.com for social entrepreneurs. Can you describe the impact you’ve seen in the past few years?
MH: We’ve made over 400 matches responsible for over $8 million worth of professionals skills being experteered around the world. More importantly, we’ve seen social enterprises scale up as a result of the skills boost. Inspiring stories like Ebanx, which scaled from eight to over 100 employees after receiving a first experteer to help them develop international sales; Maya Traditions launched a new e-commerce site to help its women artisans sell to wider audiences; and Ubongo, which expanded its educational programming and recently earned a USAID DIV (development innovation ventures) grant, are just a few of the common results of experteering projects. We’ve made placements in over 50 countries, and experteers have come from over 30.
We’re seeing more and more data come in to support the power of skills-based volunteers, even from short-term skills-based volunteers as they (1) build the skills of local teams; (2) provide a skills-boost that accelerates mission achievement; (3) share international connections and insights; (4) recommend operation and strategy improvements that build long-term sustainability.
SA: What are the biggest needs from social enterprise shows?
MH: Report after report shows that a lack of access to skills and expertise is one of the leading barriers to growth, and the distribution of the skills that are needed most is really interesting. In some cases, we have hyper-specific asks for technical skills, like this project which needs a mechanical engineer with commercialization experience. In others, we need much more broad skills like supply chain, distribution, marketing or strategy.
SA: Have there been any surprises since you started this project when it comes to what skill sets were most in demand?
MH: The creative talents – design, photography, videography – are in our top five of most requested skills. It makes sense once you think about a scaling or soon-to-be-scaling social enterprise as they often need help telling their story, but it’s not what we originally anticipated.
SA: How is MovingWorlds funded, what’s the long-plan for sustainability?
MH: MovingWorlds is operating on revenue. And, as a social purpose corporation (aka Benefit Corporation), with every $1 of revenue we earn, we turn that into over $120 USD worth of professional skills being experteered.
SA: This week you’re launching a new effort called the MovingWorlds Institute. How does this build on or complement what the organization does?
MH: And we’re really exciting about it. Fast Company called it “a program to help skilled professionals transition to social good careers in six months.” The MovingWorlds Institute was founded to help skilled professionals transition careers to the social good sector. While MovingWorlds was originally founded to help get expertise to the parts of the world that need it the most, as we’ve grown, we’ve realized that people, like Deana, also use experteering as part of of their own personal and professional development story.
To help people have a more personally and professionally catalytic experience, we’ve taken the programming historically reserved for our corporate partners and customized that for people that want to engage with us on their own. The result is a really cool program that molds around people’s unique skill sets and aspirations, and then provides them mentoring, coaching, global networking and a very intentional and international experteering project to help them identify and earn a career in the social enterprise sector. We have some incredible speakers, connectors and partners as part of the program, and can’t wait for our cohort to start in January.
SA: How can people apply and what types of candidates are ideal for the program?
MH: Anybody with at least three years of professional experience that has aspirations to transition careers is welcome to apply to the program. Applications close on Nov. 30, 2016, and the cohort kicks off in January 2017. The program is open to graduate students, those still working full-time jobs, and also those planning to take a sabbatical or gap year. We received a lot of feedback in the design of the program, and it’s been created to adapt to each participant’s unique skill sets, schedule and aspirations.
Scott Anderson is contributing editor of NextBillion.
Images courtesy of MovingWorlds