Creating social impact: see the benefit of walking before participating in a marathon

It is astonishing how individual social entrepreneurs and/or small startups can achieve results by addressing and implementing innovative ways of social enterprises in local areas. Compared to huge organizations they are often much faster to connect and to start working together with local people on obvious needs. Probably this is due to a very pragmatic approach, short decision ways and direct contacts. Think about a single craftworker who is able to organize local coworkers for building houses or farmshops that are becoming point of access to local people.
Whether it is about knowledge sharing, motivation or implementation – the first steps are important …and it works also across language barriers.
Somehow this reminds me to the most origin way of doing – it goes back to how human beings learn in their first years of life. It’ s a learning by doing. Trying, succeeding, failing, retrying and becoming better. Step by step.
Up to a certain level.

The huge problem is scaling up
When it becomes more complex, the pragmatic approach needs concepts, strategies and more players. That’s where single social enterprises often fail and why scaling up projects becomes difficult. The main key success factors, such as spontaneity, immediate visibility and pragmatic approach are loosing energy. Suddenly, the face to face approach, the direct contact is not possible any longer – and more players and dimensions come into the circle of stakeholders. But this involves also a reduction of immediate success and decreases trust.
For scaling up, for changes on a larger scale, the support of huge organizations and people experienced exactly in the management of networks could be a huge support. But here often seems to be a gap. Often these organizations and single social entrepreneurs are not really connected and that matching the pragmatic approach and theory is a huge challenge – without loosing too much time.

So, what?
It is a good question and I have just some thoughts I’d like to share and discuss:

To social enterpreneurs:
– Invest time to connect with huge political and networking organizations, whether on an international or national level, and do it right from the beginning. This will not make a huge difference at the beginning, (it might also be somehow slowing down your progress), but mid- and longterm- wise it can be become a decisive factor for scaling up.

To the huge organizations that are experienced for years already, whether in the political sector or as NGOs:
– go “Back to the roots” and integrate the individual entrepreneurs into your programs. They are the ones who help you to make visible what you are looking for – probably in a short time. Which makes you reliable and motivating to go ahead.

Like in our own lives: it is important to learn how to walk before we can participate in a marathon.

What do you think?

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