Harvard Alumni for Impact: SOCIAL ENTERPRISE SCALE-UPS: CREATING RIPPLES OF GLOBAL GOOD

Editor’s Note: The below post is part of our Alumni for Impact series, which features alumni who are making a difference in the social sector, specifically in K-12 education, impact investing, nonprofit supportive services and social entrepreneurship.  In this post, Randy Haykin (MBA 1988), explains how his organization, The Gratitude Network, is working to “scale-up” social enterprises.

My 30-year career after HBS started as a serial entrepreneur in the Silicon Valley, followed by 15 years building my own venture fund. Through it, I’ve been privileged to be a part of over 100 early- and growth- stage companies, as well as teach at UC Berkeley’s Haas School and University of Cambridge in the Entrepreneurship area.

In the past 15 years there has been enormous amount of focus on early stage entrepreneurship, “incubators”, and the birth of a new companies Hundreds of incubators exist to assist these “new-borns”. This is true in the social impact section as well as the technology for-profit sectors. Many angel groups and networks now exist to fund these entities as well.

In the technology (for-profit) sectors, as a company grows, it can obtain assistance and funding from venture funds, private equity and the public markets. This is not true in the social impact space.

Social enterprises who are in their adolescent (“scale-up” or growth) stage have fewer choices – there are very few entities focused on this stage of growth in the social sector. These social impact organizations are seeking ways to build upon a core product, market, or business model and “scale” to sustainability (with not-for-profits) or profitability (with for-profits).

Leaders of social impact scale-ups can become incredible levers of societal benefit.  A mid-size organization that is scaling up well can mean increased local job creation, dramatic regional social and economic benefit and even global impact – leveraged impact may be felt on thousands, or millions of end recipients. This is an area where a leader’s impact can send ripples worldwide for social good.

The Gratitude Network was founded in 2012, with the goal of assisting social impact “scale-ups” – and a few years into our journey we decided to focus on those enterprises affecting children and youth around the world – basically the “future” of our ever-challenging and complex world.

A recent interview on ABC News does a good job of describing the Gratitude Network.

Gratitude chooses top social impact entrepreneurs from around the world, following an award process that we run twice a year. This year we’ll work with 20+ social enterprises impacting children and youth.

Within the area of children & youth, we focus on education/learning, health/well-being and children’s rights/social justice. As an example, this past year we have been privileged to work with Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and Chris Padula at the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco. This non-profit, now in its growth stage, impacts children facing adverse childhood experiences and provides an early intervention program to help families impacted. We have worked on strategic planning and organizational issues with their team to help strengthen their ability to grow in the coming years.

Our model is a two-tiered approach to scaling: 1) introduce a (“Strategic Coach” to work alongside the entrepreneur. 2) engage the coach to bring in resources as needed to help scale the organization. We have over 50 coaches (many of them HBS alums!) with expertise in business modeling, leadership development, marketing, sales, recruiting,–basically all the issues with which a  scale-up is faced. This year, we’ll be rolling out a new feature to our program: a service to match our chosen non-profit entrepreneurs with for-profit funding. Please connect with us if you’d like to learn more.

We are relishing our work- and we invite you to connect with us if the topic of children, education or youth is your passion. We are always looking for strong partnerships, great social impact entrepreneurs, and team members (coaches, mentors, etc). Reach me at randy@gratitude-network.org.