One of the frequent questions asked by WIT supporters is “How do you select Investees?”
In this blog, let me explain about some lenses when deciding which social entrepreneurs to support.
There are three types of challenges that social entrepreneurs try to solve, according to the article Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World in SSIR, Summer 2014.
The first type is a simple challenge. “Funding under-resourced schools is not easy, but it is still a simple challenge.”*
The second type is a complicated challenge. “Improving the performance of teachers is a complicated challenge: A teacher’s performance is affected by many variables, and we have no well-established metrics of teacher quality. Given sufficient research into best practices, however, the essential variables and metrics can be identified, understood, and improved.”*
The last type is a complex challenge. “When one moves from the goal of training teachers to the goal of improving student achievement across an entire educational system, one has moved squarely from the complicated to the complex. Student achievement is influenced by myriad interdependent factors such as school leadership, economic and family circumstances, peer dynamics, role models, and even nutrition.”*
To change a system called society broadly, you cannot just replicate successful practice in some place to other place. Sometimes you face head wind, and other times tailwind. It is such social entrepreneurs who try to change the system, or complex problems, that WIT supports. We are trying to help entrepreneurs who are working to create more resilient and diverse civil society through addressing a variety of social issues.
WIT believes that several qualities are crucial to solve complex challenges, which are expressed in our selection criteria for the investees.
These are not black-and-white criteria and no entrepreneur is perfect in every point from the beginning. WIT try to see entrepreneur’s potential when selecting our Investees – whether or not the entrepreneur and WIT can work together to realize these points.
1. Social Entrepreneurship
Be committed to achieving high social impact, and empower beneficiaries to solve problems.
2. Systemic Design
Understand the structure of social issues, identify key areas of intervention, and address issues with a sustainable business model.
3. Resource Mobilization
Engage local communities, generate cross-sector alliances, and raise funds in a sustainable way.
4. Readiness to Scale Impact
Manage human resources and maximize operational efficiency with IT to achieve scalable social impact.
5. Sustainable Impact
Have good governance by working with board and advisory board members, disclosing social impact assessments, and managing risks.
6. Trust and Commitment for Change
Build trust with WIT, be open to its advices, and be timely and flexible in decision making.
Take an example of WIT’s investee, Whole Earth Nature School Fukushima. Their vision is a society where human beings, nature and communities live together, and everyone is grateful for and can be proud of one’s life.
Yuki Wada, leader of the Fukushima School, does whatever he could do to achieve this vision – train young leaders and teachers as environmental educators, and collaborates with other child-supporting organizations in Fukushima. In addition to working with various stakeholders, it is also important for him to deal with beneficiaries’ situations and externalities in a flexible way.
WIT’s Investees are aware of their ultimate vision, open to co-create the process to achieve the vision, work through PDCA cycle, and nurture trust relationships with others. You would be exited to know more about any WIT’s investee through these perspectives!
Written by Mio Yamamoto, Selection criteria by Tetsuo Kato and edited by Mio Yamamoto