We all know Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding is a powerful source for impact in today’s world. For perspective, Fortune 500 firms devote over $15 billion per year to CSR activities. According to KPMG’s 2017 “The Road Ahead” report, over 90% of the 250 largest companies in the world produced a CSR report to inform stakeholders about their activities- this is up from 35% in 1999.
It’s necessary because of the advantaged position corporations find themselves in with the economic means to positively impact society. However, corporate professionals in these CSR roles still struggle with the decision on where to allocate these funds. CSR or Corporate Philanthropy professionals find themselves asking: How far can my budget go? How can my company make a real difference? How can I engage my employees so that they feel our companies’ contribution?
setting clear goals for corporation’s support
The truth is, there are so many options that it makes answering these questions an extremely difficult task. There are an infinite amount of foundations, non-profits, and socially focused programs that are doing amazing things. These social organizations range in focuses from malnutrition, to gender equality, to teen pregnancy, with scopes from local to national and even global.
If we take a look at organizations with a focus on education, options for CSR funding can include large, globally focused foundations like UNICEF, nationally focused non-profits like Teach for America, to smaller, locally-focused NGO’s like Niños de Guatemala (propaganda for personal passions not intended). The hardest part is that all of these organizations would benefit from a corporation’s support- so how do we choose?
Before approaching the solution to this conundrum, the first thing a professional in this situation must do is consider what is the goal of their organization’s social impact initiatives and funding. Is there a specific set of beneficiaries that the company would like to reach? Is there a way to align Corporate Social Responsibility programming to the company’s objectives, direction, and mission? How tangible should the program be?
Once the goal is set, then it’s time to start narrowing down the options. So, what if I told you I had a solution that allows your corporation to truly impact economic development around the world? Would it help if I told you that this solution can incorporate your employees by providing training and development to be future leaders? On top of all of this, what if I told you this solution can positively affect your company’s bottom line?
Well, I’m not lying. All of this can be done through the support of Entrepreneurial Incubation Programming. Entrepreneurs can be considered the economic backbone to any economy. According to a 2017 OECD report, 99% of businesses in the world are small business and make up about 70% of jobs. Small businesses are the engines of growth in both developed and developing countries.
The entrepreneurs behind these businesses are responsible for job creation, fighting brain drain, solving real consumer problems around the world, and creating sustainable impact. Entrepreneurial programming not only provides entrepreneurs with the know-how on how to create a business, but also provide indispensable training for critical thinking, cognitive skills, agility training, and resilience. This is what shapes the leaders we need and want in our world today.
Entrepreneurial Incubation Programming as a solution
So what would this entrepreneurial programming look like? Incubation programs support early-stage entrepreneurs to think about their business concept in ways that they wouldn’t normally think about. This type of programming takes entrepreneurs through the process of identifying and critically analyze the market, their customers, their financial potential and growth plan and commercialization strategy.
At Bridge for Billions, our online incubation program incorporate a robust and proven methodology based from MIT’s Disciplined Entrepreneur Methodology. Entrepreneurs who go through programs like this, are more likely to create business plans positioned for success when they go to market. In fact, 83% of the startups that complete the Bridge for Billions Incubation program are still active.
A learn-by-doing approach is also extremely important for early-stage entrepreneurs to get out into their market, talk to customers, and create their business model with real-life experience and interaction. This is why mentorship is an important part of the process and something we find critical at Bridge. Each entrepreneur that incubates with Bridge for Billions is paired with a mentor. This mentor can be an expert in the sector of the Entrepreneurs project, or an expert in a certain area of interest for the entrepreneur.
Corporations that execute these types of programs, find it extremely beneficial to pair the entrepreneurs to employees within their corporations as mentors. These mentor relationships benefit not only the startup team’s experience and business plan outcome, but also greatly affect the employees through professional development and reverse-mentoring.
An example of this mutual benefit, Bridge for Billions recently partnered with BMW to create an entrepreneurship program where 10 BMW employees volunteered to mentor 10 entrepreneurs from around the world whose projects ranged from providing mental health aid in India to reducing waste in Japan. After the close of the program, Julie Murat, the program manager at Bridge reported that:
Supporting entrepreneurial programming is important for the many reasons we’ve seen. Entrepreneurs represent true, sustainable economic development and the future of our country. Innovation is our future and without the support of organizations, this type of programming is hard to access for many bright entrepreneurs. So, let’s take it as our duty to create a sustainable impact on our societies by supporting entrepreneurs around the world.
Interested in building your own program for open innovation, employee engagement or impact entrepreneurship?
Written by Andrea Carron, Sales & Partnership Executive USA & Canada
Andrea specializes in providing entrepreneurial solutions to your organizations’ most pressing issues. With a background in both the corporate world as well as in the NGO world, Andrea strikes the ideal balance between business and purpose and leverages this expertise to develop Bridge for Billions across the Atlantic.