Four years ago, I wrote:

The key issues facing Save the Children are: developing new markets, especially in emerging middle income countries; growing our private income by addressing the low levels of unrestricted income relative to overall income, which puts our independence at risk as well as our ability to drive our work for children in a strategic, purposeful way with a focus beyond 2015; and implementing knowledge/best practice sharing to develop a shared toolkit to provide a common language necessary to incentivize corporate partners to make investments toward the organization’s goal.

Save the Children Canada “reaches the most vulnerable children in nearly 120 countries around the world – including Canada.”

It will be critical that the movement maintain a portfolio of short/medium/long term market investments, and balance the requirement for adequate short-term market investment to drive 2015 income growth targets. This requires the need to grow market presence in Canada and be an early mover to markets especially in Asia, Latin America & the Caribbean, and possibly longer term, Africa. Given our membership structure of 30 member countries (offices) globally, a list of potential members will need to be further assessed against a set of criteria that includes: the ability to grow unrestricted funds/regular giving; significant growth potential in strategic markets that match the organizations mission; and have adequate governance and senior leadership to support new investments.

With a long-term objective of building new members in strategic countries, unlocking untapped potential in Canada and investing in new markets, like Asia, will be especially important since the organization is currently losing market share to other major international non-governmental organizations. However, to accomplish this effectively, Save the Children will have to assess new markets across Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East against different attributes linked to the following areas: economic demographics of the market, fundraising culture and infrastructure; size and value of the fundraising market, and fit and alignment with Save the Children’s mission.

To capture these opportunities, clear investment criteria and mechanisms must be developed and set, such as establishing a global investment fund, spearheaded in large part by the Canadian extractives industry. To ensure that investment is made strategically, a set of criteria to assess high performance by members for income generation and member growth will need to be developed. Investment will need to be targeted at: programmes; advocacy; communications, governance, and innovation etc.

In terms of member performance, members should be assessed with a set of criteria adapted to the context of their local market. Different contexts mean that members will play different roles and have different approaches. Therefore, the organization will have to establish a new classification of members to reflect the diversity of their roles and also allow for clear targeting of priority markets. The key Governance and leadership issue here is that the organization considers a centrally coordinated approach to new and existing markets, with a single point of joint responsibility for driving forward market development. This will also require strong member leadership.

Further external and internal sources of funding need to be investigated, including: social loans from philanthropists/foundations, charity bonds, and new forms of corporate partnership. For this to happen, Save the Children must be able to align corporate partners to accessing strategic markets without compromising our core values, and this will require an organizational paradigm shift. Save the Children and most other NGOs for that matter, do not spend adequate time thinking about business, let alone markets; Even-though they have profound influence on both. NGOs act as forms of distributed intelligence and conscience in the market place and in retrospect, many of the market outcomes of NGO pressures have been incidental, unplanned, even accidental. The system-level changes needed to build sustainable economies conducted by Save the Children must best begin to be deployed to this end.

Save the Children Canada needs to unlock and leverage the enormous development potential of foreign investment for the betterment of developing communities toward models of successful partnership, risk-reward balancing, and funding with the Canadian Extractives Sector. The Canada Investment Fund for Africa (CIFA), a two hundred million dollar public-private investment fund, was designed to stimulate growth in Africa through mid-market private equity investments with a focus on financial services, consumer businesses, natural resources, logistics and agro-industry. Canada launched CIFA in response to the G8 Africa Action Plan. Approximately twenty four percent of CIFA investments are currently in six extractive sector projects, four of which are operated by Canadian or Canadian-listed companies and a substantial portion of the fund being allocated for strategic partnerships with NGOs. It is critical that Save the Children becomes a priority partner.

Common tool-kits will-be necessary to provide a consistent language between NGOs and extractive companies; engagement often done at the local, and not head office, level. This would allow for in-country engagement between the organizations. The development of regional centers of excellence and knowledge alongside measures for improving peer to peer learning and best practice sharing will be a critical component to raising the necessary organizational capacity.

Members will require a range of capacity building tools linked to the delivery of specific programs: best practice sharing and tool-kits, and workshops and training across all income streams, channels and techniques. This will be even more critical as NGOs like Save the Children engage with the extractives industry and make the business case for global partnership.

The Sector Inc provides strategic funding proposal writing services for social-purposed-organizations unifying the previously exclusive disciplines of business planning & analysis, corporate & social finance, public finance & government funding, charitable fundraising, organizational design, program & social service delivery, corporate responsibility & ESG, and monitoring & evaluation.

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Four years ago, I wrote:

“Conducting business toward a more sustainable, inclusive society is my main interest and the result of two life experiences: early exposure to entrepreneurial business and being a marginalized youth in Canada.”

“My father, an MBA educated entrepreneur, peeked my curiosity of the entrepreneurial spirit when I started working with him at the age of fifteen. I helped operate and supervise a production bay for a start-up cosmetics manufacturing company and was privy to his design and development of a large, small business incubator. However, my family was dissolving.”

“By age sixteen I was a homeless, displaced youth, outside of the educational system, and became a marginalized person myself. Planning and executing the steps back into a life position to compete for a voice in the institutionalized conversations that shape society required unconventional tactics that challenged the barriers of marginalized people, and a decade of my life. No experience bears greater influence on my career focus of improving the livelihoods of underprivileged children, as well as my volunteer involvement with The United Way of Greater Toronto.”

“The business of a more sustainable, inclusive society is part of my DNA and will always influence my professional development.”

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One of my major accomplishments is raising the philanthropic capital to fund Multi-Activity-Centers, to implement psycho-social support programming designed to provide non-formal education for three-thousand displaced youth, in the Za’atai refugee camp, at the height of the Syrian Humanitarian crisis, 2013. The partnership consisted of a private family foundation, two government umbrella organizations, a provincial teacher’s federation, and a private philanthropist. This was truly an exercise in stakeholder management. Success required control and synergies of environments both external and internal to Save the Children; creating positive relationships with stakeholders through the appropriate management of their expectations and agreed objectives. I learned that stakeholder management is a process that must be planned and guided by underlying principles, requires extensive resource capacity,and extensive relational skills, none more important than sincerity.

One setback I faced, when I moved to Toronto post undergraduate degree, I worked for a company and was laid off. It was the height of the global economic recession. I lived with my sister with no money. I job searched. A mature man but newly educated, I searched for a management role,despite the mass consensus of typical cohort graduates that I was under qualified. I looked for six months. Circumstances became bleak, in the fifth month; I had to sneak on the subway daily, with soaking wet shoes, holes in the bottoms, and walk into job interviews with accomplished people and explain that I was their next rising star. I did this near fifty times. It was most difficult the fiftieth time having forty nine attempts behind me. I prevailed. I learned to believe in myself…

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For MBA students, it is all about the network, or so the maxim goes. The fortunes of Bradford Turner would seem to prove the point.

The background

The 35-year-old spent most of his career raising capital for not-for-profit organisations before he decided to study for the coveted business degree. An MBA, he thought, would help him set up his own consultancy to deliver better public services while saving public money. “I had this vision that there needed to be a consultancy that could advise about how the community could collaborate.”

The business problem

The delivery of government-funded social services is carried out by a wide range of organisations, which invariably means expensive duplication. For clients, the system is equally complex. They may have housing needs, mental health needs, childcare needs and more, says Mr Turner. “They meet a different culture and different people every time they walk into an organisation. This is the problem.”

Choosing an MBA

Mr Turner felt he lacked a “cocktail of things” needed to set up his own business, specifically international experience and an MBA. To address this, he decided to apply outside his native Canada, believing that studying in Europe would give him a more diverse experience than studying in the US.

So that he could continue in his job, he chose a flexible MBA, combining online teaching with regular visits to the university campus at Warwick Business School in the heart of the UK. “It was an immediate fit,” he says.

Setting up the company

One of Mr Turner’s reasons for enrolling on an MBA was to get an all-round view of business: he knew certain aspects well but was ignorant of many of the fundamental areas of running a company. His plan was to finish his MBA then launch his consultancy. However, once on the degree course his plans changed. “The MBA being a good generalist degree gave me enough knowledge to help me know what I didn’t know and when I had to get people in to help,” he says. “I thought, ‘I don’t have to wait to do this’.”

He began working with an acquaintance who was a political economist specializing in urban infrastructure, looking at how urban planning and environmental sciences could help to solve poverty, and set up a for-profit consultancy, called The Sector. “What we’re trying to do is to clean up the [public] sector and get people to work together.”

The MBA network “I started talking about this at Warwick,” says Mr Turner, who started his MBA there in June 2014 and will finish in July. Indeed The Sector became one of the hot topics in the university bar during the week-long campus sessions for the programme. “We would all break out the notes and scribble on napkins. Before you knew it, we had pictures on the napkins and we uploaded them on to the computer,” says Mr Turner. “This all happened . . . across the pub in the UK.”

Among his peers on the programme were students from Lebanon, Germany, Russia and the UK, and they are now helping him by setting up market research activities in their own regions. The Sector has already been retained by the municipality in York, Toronto, to conduct a feasibility study for a multi-use community service centre to improve client services.

Mr Turner believes the creation of this kind of venture and networking means that the MBA is returning to its roots. “I watched the MBA become a single line on a résumé to get a management job. I hate that. It is absolutely nuts,” he says. “It used be a degree for educating entrepreneurs or the next captains of industry, not a credential.”

Source: Original Financial Times Article

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