Moses Lee

Talent Management at the Base of the Pyramid: More than Just the Social

peopleOne of the biggest differences between social ventures and traditional for-profit ventures is that social ventures have an explicit social mission.? This difference can be a significant reason why one person chooses to work for a social venture over a traditional for-profit venture, regardless of any difference in pay. Despite this, there are many who decide to work at a social venture for reasons other than the social mission.?

Shocking revelation, right?

During a discussion on talent management with the recently returned Acumen Fund fellows, one person made the comment to me which I found quite interesting:

One of the mistakes that management makes at a social venture is to think that all workers are drawn to the venture because of the social mission alone.? For some workers, this may be the case.? For others, the social mission is only a small reason why they join the social venture.

So what are these other reasons?? ?

A few thoughts and reflections from my summer interviews with localentrepreneurs and workers at BoP ventures: (The discussions primarily related to local management and front-line workers, not expatriates)

Skills Training

Skills training and career development opportunities are generally high priorities for local workers in their employment decision,particularly for those early in their careers. Unfortunately, most social ventures do not have formal training or career development strategies for their workers, as they often don?t budget for it.??

Those that do allocate time, resources, and energy towards professional skills training have found that it can be a huge pull in attracting and retaining high quality workers.? Additionally, the investment in personnel can create a competitive advantage for the organization.


In addition to skills training and worker development, roles andresponsibilities often play a large part in attracting and retaining top talent at social ventures.? This is particularly the case for workerswho are more advanced in their careers.? In addition, many workers appreciate the recognition that comes with playing a large role at a social venture; ego sometimes trumps financial opportunity.??

Financial Compensation

Money matters to people, even at social ventures.? And at some social ventures, workers do not necessarily have to take a significant pay cut.? For example, some microfinance institutions are right up there with commercial banks in terms of their financial compensation.? It is wise for social ventures that have the financial wherewithal to not assume that they can underpay their worker simply because they are social ventures.

Agree or disagree? Other factors that you’d like to highlight?