Nextbillion’s Most Viewed, Shared Posts in February: Failure, Glorious Failure
Failure, glorious failure.
What else sells newspapers (… er, make that blog post clicks)? The old adage that it’s not news if everything goes according to plan – that applies to blog sites like ours, too. And so, as per usual, stories about failure led the list of our most-viewed and most-shared posts of February. But there was no reveling in schadenfreude here. Rather, we opened the month with a series on what we could learn from failures, brought to us by a burgeoning global organization that has failure right in its name.
The group, F*ckUp Nights, was co-founded by Leticia Gasca in 2012. Gasca tells its origin story in her post NexThought Monday – Calling All Failures: Failing is a big part of social entrepreneurship, which was NextBillion’s most read post in February. It all began as a casual get-together of entrepreneurs over drinks. As they swapped stories of business decisions gone wrong, “we concluded that it had been one of the most meaningful business conversations we’d ever had,” Gasca writes.
Clearly, many fellow business leaders agree, and in less than three years F*ckUp Nights has grown to include chapters in 80 cities in 30 countries. In launching our series, Gasca, the who directs the organization, notes that while failure is excruciatingly difficult, it can be even more so – and even more humiliating – when it comes to the demise of a social enterprise.
“But when a social enterprise shuts down, its failure also affects those populations or ecosystems that the business was supposed to serve, increasing both the stakeholders’ sense of responsibility and the real-world consequences of their failure. Though that’s likely why so many social entrepreneurs are reluctant to talk about their business failures, it’s also the reason they should share them more openly. With the unique business challenges being tackled by social enterprises, success is even less likely. And the perspectives of entrepreneurs who’ve tried and failed to navigate these obstacles could provide an invaluable guide for the businesses that take their place.”
Second Most-Viewed for February
“By connecting our villages to a larger, more scalable partner, we were able to have a much bigger impact. From my experience in the nonprofit sector, structuring this type of exit is not the norm. As nonprofit leaders, it’s easy to get attached to the ongoing survival of our mission and our organization and think we’re the only ones who can solve the problem (an idea that has been well-articulated in this TEDx talk by Eric Stowe). We hope our story will inspire more nonprofits to consider partnerships and acquisition as a strategy for bringing innovation to new regions and bridging the gaps in services for emerging markets. In our case, making the decision to exit opened the door for new opportunity.”
Third Most-Viewed for February
Social entrepreneurships are not like traditional companies. In the latter, there are issues such as cash flow, operational deficiencies, market factors, and so on – but the primary focus of the business is clear-cut. In the former, the social issue complicates matters. It’s not enough to chase profits – and the more you do, the more you risk compromising your social vision.
Somewhere in its model, a social enterprise sacrifices a certain percentage of its profit to benefit the community that it serves. This lowers its margin of error, making it harder to withstand the unforeseen. What’s more, the culture of social investment is still in its early stages. Where it exists, it often faces conditions that make its investments less competitive than traditional ones.
Most Shared on Social Media
Bridging the ‘Know-Do’ Gap: New initiative seeks to integrate digital health into national systems by Peter Benjamin, highlights the siloed nature of e- and m-health projects in Africa.
?Though there are more than 2,000 pilot electronic health (eHealth) and mobile health (mHealth) projects in low- and middle-income countries, there is still much confusion about how best to realize the potential of these technologies to transform health systems. In 2014, we heard the same sentiment from the departments of health in multiple African countries: “We know there is something interesting happening with mHealth, and we know we don’t know how to do it ourselves, but the only people we can talk to about this are all salesmen!”
Benjamin also prescribes four potential remedies.
Congratulations to all of our winners and all NextBillion contributors in February.
Scott Anderson is the managing editor of NextBillion.