Editor's Choice

The Editor’s Choice blog is a monthly review of a top resource or report in inclusive business.  There are so many resources, documents, tools, reports, videos out there, it can be hard to know where to start.  We choose one that we like and tell you why we like it and who else should find it useful.   Until the end of 2017, Editor’s Choice blogs were written by Caroline Ashley as Hub Editor.   Going forward, they are written by a range of guest editors, both from the core team and from beyond.

Editors Choice January 2010: Shell Foundation report on solutions that scale

Last mile distribution

"Enterprise Solutions to Scale - Lessons learned in catalysing sust..." (pdf, 60 pp.) is one of very few reports that explicitly asks what it means for inclusive business to 'go to scale,' admits that many do not, and quizzes why, when and how?

When Shell Foundation analysed success of the projects they support in achieving scale, they found that it was originally only a 20% success rate, but as their enterprise approach has changed, this has reversed to an 80% success rate.

The report draws exclusively on a few examples from the Foundation's enterprise-based approach to fight poverty. This is a long way from a report about definitions, but as no one else (that we know) has defined what is means to go scale, their definition is useful:

  • large-scale development outcomes (measurable)
  • Multiple country and/or regional operations (measurable)
  • Earned income derived from the market(measurable)
  • Leverage that matches or exceeds our grant contribution (measurable)
  • Management team has competence to execute the venture (subjective)

The report identifies key factors that affect scalability: the right entrepreneurial partners, right vision, buiding capacity, patience, and the need for 'more than money'. High initial investment (or 'subsidy'), in capacity, systems and business advice, have proved essential. Strikingly, success has only been achieved with new initiatives that Shell Foundation helped to co-found, not pre-existing organisations.

 

Read the striking report - or at least its summary - for a great deal more.