Scale Is Overrated: Why the ‘Unicorn Industrial Complex’ is Holding Back Social Enterprise and Emerging Markets Business
Social enterprises and small and growing businesses (SGBs) are the focus of a lot of discussion and excitement in the development sector, as seen in recent SGB coverage on NextBillion and other publications. But Jack Foreman at Foresee Advisors argues that this discussion ignores the needs – and essential natures – of the vast majority of these businesses, particularly in emerging markets. He explains why the focus on scale – and investors' search for the next potential "unicorn" startup – overlook the crucial importance of SMEs that are content to remain small or medium-sized.
Sendbox, the Nigerian startup digitising deliveries for e-commerce and social commerce sellers in Africa, has closed a $1.8 million seed round to expand into more African markets, scale its product offerings and hire more talents.
- Sub-Saharan Africa
Four Insights for Better Measurement: What Businesses Can Learn from the Public and Nonprofit Sectors
In the public and nonprofit sectors, comprehensive monitoring, evaluation and learning approaches are increasingly common – but many small and growing businesses (SGBs) lack the time and resources for these practices. Heather Esper, director of the Performance Measurement and Improvement team at the William Davidson Institute, shares four key data collection and measurement insights from the public and nonprofit worlds that businesses — particularly SGBs — can leverage to improve their decision-making and maximize the social and financial value of their data.
Making This Year Better Than the Last: A Recent Survey Assesses the Pandemic’s Impacts on Micro and Small Businesses
Micro and small businesses dealt with massive challenges during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and even those that adapted and survived still face major struggles. Juan Carlos Thomas at TechnoServe shares the results of a recent study on COVID-19's impact on these enterprises, and explores how his organization has been supporting them – including through a crisis toolkit that helps them weather the pandemic's challenges, and through digital tools focused on business training and access to finance.
When ‘Hibernation’ Is Not an Option: How a Small Business in India Fought to Stay Alive During the Pandemic
Soon after the COVID-19 lockdown started, Lal10 – a social enterprise that connects India’s indigenous artisans to formal markets – faced cratering demand for its standard products, like saris and other textiles. As Sachi Shenoy at Upaya Social Ventures explains, in order to survive, the company essentially had to start over. She explores how Lal10 managed to quickly pivot to meet the intense demand for personal protective equipment, while continuing to connect its artisans to dignified work – and building a more efficient company in the process.
Doing Good by Doing Business: How B1G1’s Innovative Giving Model Is Mobilizing Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises to Make a Social Impact
B1G1 (Buy1Give1) is a global business giving initiative that makes it easy for enterprises – particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – to support charitable causes around the world. NextBillion spoke with founder and CEO Masami Sato to discuss how B1G1 developed its innovative model, how its approach differs from the model popularized by companies like TOMS Shoes, and why it’s important to mobilize the power of SMEs to build upon the impact of traditional charitable giving.
One of the great challenges of the 21st Century is the need to reduce poverty levels and economic inequality globally. Economic growth is the most powerful tool for reducing poverty and improving the quality of life in developing countries.
Retailo, the Riyadh-based B2B eCommerce startup, has announced $2.3 million of funding in a pre-seed round to go toward boosting small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the Middle East, according to a press release.
- North Africa & Near East