Year in Review – 2017

 

Following on from an amazing 2016, where we presented WSV twice at the United Nations, joined the USSP Catalyst Incubator and delivered social enterprise training to the Bond NGO network, this year has been a rollercoaster.

After 4-6 years of pilots and a years worth of development and refinement, the “Business in a box” was complete. It was now possible for other organisations to implement our socially impactful micro-businesses through our social franchise model; where we provide all the background development and support to keep the impactful businesses impactful. On top of that, we developed partnerships that will help us drive our ambitions and support the work of our network.

It is safe to say we have successfully laid the foundation for and made great strides towards our 2022 Million, Million, Million plan; to have 3 million people directly benefiting from the work of our entrepreneurs.

See our 2017 journey below.

Finished the “Business in a Box” MVP

Finished the “Business in a Box” MVP

After 4-6 years of pilots, and a years worth of development and refinement, Version 1 was ready. Weighing in at a hefty 600 A4 pages.

 

The business in a box encapsulates all the learnings, process and content needed to successfully set up a Petal, Roots or Right Light micro-enterprise.

First NGOs franchising our portfolio

First NGOs franchising our portfolio

In January we started in Uganda with our network’s first 3 post-pilot NGOs! Implementing: 3 Petal, 1 Roots and 2 Right Light enterprises.

 

This started our relationship with The International Refugee Trust, Naminage and Bupadhengo Parishes, and Bitterne Park and St James Parishes.

 

Read more about our time in Lira with IRT.

Catalyst Incubator Graduate

Catalyst Incubator Graduate

In April we graduated from the University of Southampton Science Park Catalyst Incubator. 

 

Over the previous 9 months we had recieved training and mentorship from a series of experienced entrepreneurs and professsionals. The programme was fundamental to our successful development of WSV.

Growth Funding

Growth Funding

We were one of two recipients of the Royal Society of the Arts Catalyst Scale up grant and were also awarded a grant from Scurrah Wainwright to begin working in Zimbabwe.

Partnership with BizGees

In May we started partnering with BizGees, who raise funding for refugees to franchise socially impactful businesses.

 

This relationship was kicked off with the funding of 2 Right Light enterprises with IRT in Uganda.

Social Sector Franchising Accelerator

 

 

We were selected to be a protegé on the Social Sector Franchising Accelerator at the University of New Hampshire. From this we were invited to a round table to discuss the challenges and oopportunities in the sector, and are receiving ongoing support from franchise consultants MSA Worldwide.

6 Awesome Interns

6 Awesome Interns

We had 6 awesome interns working with us over summer. They were so awesome we had to put them as a highlight of our year. Their work helped us to grow our network, update our training programmes, and market the work of our amazing entrepreneurs.

 

Hear from them directly in our Intern’s Insights blog series.

Rebranded to WSV

 

 

 

In September we rebranded from Wessex Social Ventures to WSV, with a new logo and tagline reflective of how we want WSV to serve our network and the world; “Helping you build sustainable communities”.

 

Our rebranding process was picked up by ACG, an event marketing and advertising company, who will be helping us on pro-bono to ‘turn our brand into a conversation starter’.

ACG led the soft launch of our new brand, helped create our new tagline and used their platform to promote this article about our new model for development.

One Young World Summit

One Young World Summit

In October we attended the One Young World Summit in Bogota, Colombia. There we had the opportunity to meet changemakers from around the world and even, for a brief moment, speak at dinner with former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.

 

While at the summit we also met the great people at Spark News who connect journalists to social entrepreneurs to combat the wave of negative news. Spark News love the work our network is doing and will be helping us increase awareness of our new model for development.

 

New Ugandan Enterprises Funded

New Ugandan Enterprises Funded

Stating how easy it is to fundraise for the enterprises, our new partner, The International Refugee Trust, secured funding for expanding in Uganda; 8 new Right Light enterprises, 4 new Petal enterprises and 3 new Roots business!

 

Maintaining a 100% success rate on applications made for microfinance loans.

Business in a Box V2

Business in a Box V2

After testing our MVP in Uganda, we learned an immense amount about the operations, training and learning styles of other organisations. Always seeking to improve, and do so without delay, in November we launched and tested V2 of our “Business in a Box”.

 

It was a complete redesign of the training programmes, new product designs, and new marketing, education and operational strategies for the entrepreneurs.

Finalist for UK Social Enterprise Awards and Chivas Venture

Finalist for UK Social Enterprise Awards and Chivas Venture

We are pleased to announce that we were finalists for the “One to Watch” at the UK Social Enterprise Awards in November. The award is for social enterprises under two years old and WSV was only one year old!

 

To follow on from that success, we have also been selected to pitch at the UK final of the Chivas Venture in January.

Implementations in West Africa

Implementations in West Africa

In October we had our first implementations in West Africa, in Cameroon, with SHUMAS and their UK funder Building Schools for Africa.

 

SHUMAS will be setting up their first Right Light enterprise in the anglophone region of Western Cameroon in January.

We are always looking for ways to improve the way we work with communities. Partnering with Blupoint we were able to deliver content about Right Light through FM, WIFI and Bluetooth to even the most basic phones in the community and this is just the beginning…

 

We have big plans for 2018. With your help, we have no doubt we can achieve it all and more.

Social Enterprise UK Awards 2017

WSV is proud to announce that we were Finalists in the “One to Watch” category at this year’s UK Social Enterprise Awards. As the proportion of social enterprises being started in the UK continues to rise, the “One to Watch” category, sponsored by GLL, received the most applications from a variety of incredible and life changing businesses.

The UK’s Social Enterprise Awards recognise businesses that contribute to society – entrepreneurs who use their business to make an impact on social and environmental challenges at home and abroad. The award is exclusively for social enterprises under 2 years old, a testament to the work of our network as WSV is only 1 year’s old, as of June 2017. 

Bradley Heslop, co-Founder WSV represented WSV at the awards ceremony held at Royal Horticultural Hall. Seen here with Michael Sheen, an actor and political activist who showed his support for WSV by holding one of our Petal sanitary pads and Right Light solar lamps. ‘Of course, once Michael had got his hands on Right Light and Petal everyone else had to get involved...’

We are truly grateful to be finalists for the “One to Watch” award and hope to be back next year with more great stories from our entrepreneurs and partners.

Intern’s Insights: An Intern’s Guide to Business Development

First things first, I will start with some advice that I’d like to offer to any future interns. Generally-speaking, most organisations are not excessively regimental. This means a few things:

  • You won’t have to ask for permission to go to the toilet.
  • You wont have to ask for permission to take your lunch break.
  • You won’t have to ask for permission to breathe.

 

Of course the third one is an exaggeration (surprising – I know!), however, the point still stands: For those of you, like me, who do not have the advantage of having had previous office experience, just bare in mind that work is not like school. You will have relative autonomy in your endeavours.

 

As a business developer at WSV, I had a very dynamic role which was made particularly exciting by the current growth phase of WSV. I had the unique opportunity to develop new skills and build upon existing skills without the limitation of any blueprint. As such, when seeking to establish different forms of partnerships with other corporate organisations, I was easily able to discover the most suitable and effective method of doing so.

I found there to be two main aspects to seeking corporate partnerships:
  1. Finding an organisation with synergic values to those of your own organisation.
  2. Finding the right person to contact within that organisation and establishing a conversation with them.

The first aspect requires little more than a mere google search. The latter, on the other hand, is the real challenge. Whilst my experience in this is admittedly relatively modest, I feel able to offer you my nuggets of newfound wisdom:

  1. Make full use of any connections you have – even the most tenuous of links to an organisation can help you get that all important foot-in-the-door.
  1. Don’t underestimate the power of cold-calling – this technique is often overlooked as intrusive and obnoxious, however, the perception can be altered if you change your approach to the call. Be brief and give them a reason to continue listening. How might your proposal benefit them?
  1. Don’t just ask for money – some partnerships can offer reciprocal benefits to your organisation which will be worth far more than cash alone. Law firms, for example.
  1. Believe in your product/service!
  1. Finally, be relentless – perhaps the word ‘relentless’ is somewhat misleading due to its intense connotation, but the message holds true: don’t be afraid to follow up over, and over again. 80% of sales require 5 follow up calls after the meeting. 44% of sales people give up after 1 follow up. Don’t contribute to that 44%.

I hope that these pieces of advice will further enrich your wealth of existing knowledge and assist your ambitions in business development.

Bryce Luke

Research and Business Development Internship

Intern’s Insights: 7 steps to the perfect nudge

Nudge Theory utilities the psychological rules and shortcuts that people use on a daily basis. These rules are used to find out where and when to intervene in order to change a negative behaviour an individual is displaying. A common use of nudge theory is in preventing people from displaying negative health behaviours.

7 steps to the perfect nudge

  1. Help the audience into a positive mindset

    Priming: Incorporate some kind of positive/ familiar smells, memories, photos, or anything to trigger the desired frame of mind.

  2. Timing and location are key

    Mental Accounting: Encourage them to rethink their allocated spending by appearing in places where they are deciding how to spend their money. Then convince them as to the benefits of spending it on your product.

    Changes to physical environment: These may affect their mood, so think about where they are when they hear about the product.

    Emotional appeal: Trigger some emotion in them through a nudge, or find a time at which they are emotional in which to target them with a nudge.

  3. Make the decision for them

    Mindless Choosing: Eliminate alternative options, make this a choice they don’t need to make.

    Path of least resistance: Make the product or service the easiest option, in comparison to alternatives, remove the need for effort.

    Choice Architecture: Place product where people will see them/ experience them.

  4. Tell them what others are doing

    Optimism & overconfidence: People hold a bias that they are better than average, so play on this feeling when promoting a product to them.

    Comparison: Make alternatives seem complicated compared to neighbours.

    Herd Behaviour: Conformity (target farmers union), train people in groups to create a sense of a norm.

    Social Norms: How to normalise a behaviour- visible use of products- pads on line, Roots fertile field, solar lights to travel at night.

    Status quo bias: Make something the norm e.g. targetting younger people/ children before they familiarise themselves with an existing norm.

  5. Link it to something they already trust

    Positive Association: Link onto an existing product or concept that already has a positive reputation. The positive view will then be attached to your own product.

  6. Tell them what they could lose

    Framing: Use smart wording, make it look like the odds are in your favour, reverse statistics.

    Loss aversion: The fear of losing something is a twice as strong as the pleasure gained from gaining something.

  7. Ensure they verbally commit to desired actions

    Implementation Intentions: When someone verbally states they intend to perform a certain action, it has been shown that they are far more likely to take that action. However, it is essential that they including precise details such as where, when, and how.

Beckie Thomas FRSA

Marketing Communications Internship

Interns Insights: Remote-working for a social enterprise

Marketing for a social enterprise

Interning for a company with such a diverse portfolio of social franchises means you are engaged with a variety of social issues on a daily basis. It was a great experience working with an organisation who are providing sustainable solutions to social issues. One who is quite deliberately contributing to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Working as Marketing and Communications Officer I learnt more about social media strategies, writing press releases, speaking to journalists, brand design, nudge theory, and marketing to developing communities. I made first links with contacts using elevator pitches, and gained expertise in simplifying the business model explanation. The fact I was remote-working for all of this provided an extra challenge in ensuring I stayed in constant communication with my team.

With WSV there is the added advantage of being able to network with both the business community, as well as charities- and knowing that you have something to offer to both. All of this was made all the more valuable because, when sharing the message of a social enterprise, you know that you are doing social good. It felt incredibly positive to know WSV are not providing aid, which can make developing communities dependent on this support, instead they are providing people with a business which they can use to support their families and communities.

The Royal Society of Arts

For 4 weeks I worked part-time at the Royal Society of Arts in London. I used the open working space, met interesting people and helpful staff, and used the library space and facilities. During my internship I became a fellow of the RSA due to my work so far in social enterprise at university. Becoming a fellow connects you to a network of 28,000 people across the world whom you can contact for collaboration/guidance. I would recommend it if you are interested in social progress.

Start-up-life

Working for a start up was a dynamic and fast paced experience. There are very few obstacles slowing you down. Processes are streamlined, and meetings are efficient. As a small team, we socialised at lunchtimes, got to know each other, recognised each other’s strengths, collaborated on ideas and projects, and shared expertise and knowledge. Working as a team in this way made the experience so much more useful, as six minds are always better than one!

Tips on remote-working

Remote-working teaches you to manage your time, maintain motivation, and reach out to colleagues for information whenever needed. Here are a few lessons I took from the experience:

  • Morning and afternoon goals- Set yourself a main goal for each morning and afternoon, and stick to them. Other things will come along, but you need to get your big ‘rocks’ in first.
  • Colour code progress- If you’re a visual learner, like me, use a traffic light system to keep track of your progress on goals.
  • Sync your deadlines– If one of your deadlines relies on someone else meeting theres, check in with them regularly so that you can adjust your workload accordingly.
  • Remember no question is silly. It’s always better to contact a colleague to check detail than to make a mistake. Especially in a marketing role.

 

Beckie Thomas FRSA

Marketing Communications Internship

 

 

Interns Insights: Training in developing communities

Think outside the box

The role of training developer requires a ‘think outside the box’ approach in order to make the training interactive, easily digestible and effective. This is especially the case when writing training manuals for developing countries where messages, examples and activities don’t translate in the same way. For example, when thinking about how a social enterprise can promote their brand through marketing, it would be redundant to use examples of businesses well known in the western world. Instead, it is useful to find out what brands and businesses people from rural communities will be familiar with, and base examples around those instead. In my experience, this is often fizzy drinks labels and sim card providers!

Cultural differences

A training developer must also be aware of cultural differences when writing any manuals and be careful with how things are worded. A prime example, which I experienced during my time with WSV, is sexual health teaching. Petal, a social enterprise involving the making and selling of reusable sanitary towels, is marketed using menstrual health education which the entrepreneurs learn and then teach to others in their community. There are many myths and stigmas around menstruation which is something that training developer should be sensitive towards. Therefore, it is important to find a way to dispel these myths and promote the importance of this kind of health education for the empowerment of women.

 

 6 Top Tips for developing training material:

1. Know your audience: Who will receive the training? Is the message translatable? Are there any cultural barriers that need to be crossed?

2. Keep it visual: A fun and exciting page will attract the reader and help them to remember the information.

3. Use interactive, energetic games frequently: The training manual contains games and activities that get the entrepreneurs up on their feet, role playing and even some friendly competition.

4. Don’t be afraid of leaving white space on a page: The more packed a page of the manual is, the less likely the entrepreneur will read it because it is overwhelming.

5. Create a good line of communication between you and the illustrator: The illustrator is a huge asset to you as a training developer because they are the ones who bring your ideas to life and make the manuals look exciting.

6. Do the activities yourself: Creating activities from scratch that need to reinforce a message can be challenging. I find it helpful to do the activity myself to make sure the instructions make sense and that it gets the message across clearly.

 

Imogen Jacques FRSA

Training Developer Internship

 

 

 

 

Intern’s Insights: The power of networking

‘Wandering around a room full of strangers; trying to spark conversations and desperately hand out business cards. All this in the hope of meeting the perfect connection.’

This may be what comes to mind when you think of networking. Terrifying, right? As scary as it may initially seem, networking is your gateway to accessing a wealth of knowledge, experience and opportunities. Whatever sector you are in and whatever it is you do, building your network and making important connections has immeasurable value. You never know where a connection will lead you!

The Power of Networking

In just 4 short weeks working for WSV, I have written hundreds of emails, attempted to master the art of cold calling and attended some truly inspirational conferences! From meeting a consultant neurosurgeon from Bahrain to the founder of the Africa Technology Business Network… you never know who you might come across! And whilst connections may not always be directly relevant, you never know how they could help you out in the future. Or more importantly, what you could offer them!

Last week, I atended the Planet Earth Institute’s ‘Scientific Independence for Africa’ conference. I was sat at a table with academics, policy makers, scientists and doctors, all working in the field of international development. As you can imagine, I was feeling pretty under-qualified, and was thinking ‘what on earth do I have to offer them?’ The man I was sat next to turned out to be a lecturer in global challenges who was seeking people with links to universities. I was able to share with him some key contacts from Environmental Sciences at the University of Southampton, to which he was incredibly grateful. It is these chance collaborations which can lead to the mutual exchanges of contacts, knowledge and skills that make networking so rewarding.

My top tips

Whilst after 4 weeks I am not claiming to be a networking genius, I have learnt a few things I want to share:

  1. Never overlook a contact as irrelevant – you don’t know who they might be able to put you in touch with!
  2. Think about how you can help others as well as what they can offer you  – the more you can help someone out, the more willing they’ll be to return the favour!
  3. Bring and collect enough business cards! The worst thing is running out halfway through or relying on others to email you – get those contacts to remember you and send a follow up email ASAP!

 

Amelia Gullett FRSA

Network Development Internship

Intern’s Insights: Illustrations for developing communities

Design and illustration can be a way to make connections to people who are of completely different backgrounds, and creativity is essential to any brand that is looking to grow and be part of a global movement. Design is also in every part of daily life, from the signs on a tube, to the poster you sit next to at a bus stop, to the design of a website telling you key information. When used correctly, it can make things more clear, when used incorrectly, it can completely confuse the matter.

Illustration, and the arts in general, are a way to overcome cultural and language barriers. Most companies in today’s society will use icons to represent themselves because they are devoid of any text and, therefore, can be understood in any language. They can also be used to show a brand’s values or ethos. In my time at WSV, I have helped to illustrate training manuals, how-to guides and even helped to develop a new brand logo (spoiler alert). Each of these tasks requires me to think about how my illustrations will be understood by someone who has no attachment to the company. If I were a stranger, walking past one of my illustrations in a part of the world I haven’t yet been, would it make sense?

These tasks also came with a responsibility, I had to make sure that people would be able to fully understand what we were teaching them and that they would understand how to use the products. If used incorrectly, it could effect them in any number of ways. Obviously, these illustrations are accompanied by text, but the illustration should not be reliant on that text to make sense, especially when it could be used in a community where not many people can read.

Tips for illustrating for developing communities:

  1. Make sure your illustration style is cohesive, so it can be clearly understood.
  2. Make sure your illustrations make sense without any text.
  3. Be mindful of cultural differences, what might be used to symbolise one thing in a culture, may not make sense for another e.g. a piggybank to represent money.
  4. Think laterally. Some of the best ideas may come from being experimental and creative in your thinking. Generate lots of ideas fast. If it doesn’t feel right straight away, don’t try and fix it, move on to another. At the end of the day, you could end up back at one of your first ideas anyway.

 

Alice Clark FRSA

Illustrator Internship

       

 

 

Gender inequality- The unfortunate reality for developing communities.

 

When people say “we’ve already beaten gender inequality” this list of gender issues immediately comes to mind…

Domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, lack of access to education, arranged marriage, anti-abortion laws, rape culture, media sexualisation, gender roles, the glass ceiling, parental leave policies, sex trafficking, under representation in politics, breastfeeding in public, sexual harassment, women in sport, women in tech, body image, restricted freedom, honor killings.

An uncomfortable list, yet we clearly need to start somewhere. For many women in sub-Saharan Africa, the reality is that they must overcome barriers to education before they can aim for equality in other important realms. Nelson Mandela wishfully philosophised that

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

But globally, 65 million girls are not in school (Unicef 2013). So something has to change. We need people in communities to help break down the barriers preventing girls from the opportunity of education.

Menstruation prevents many girls from attending school. A girl who misses school due to menstruation for four days each month loses 156 learning days throughout four years of high school. Health advancements to support girls with menstruation could give them back 24 weeks of education. This would give them a more equal chance at education as their male peers.

Petal pads

‘Petal’ is one of three enterprises in the WSV portfolio. The micro-enterprise trains small groups of local people to become entrepreneurs and empower themselves and their communities by running a Petal franchise where they supply their communities with re-usable sanitary towels. As well as this, they educate their community on menstruation for free, as ‘87% of girls are completely unaware about menstruation and have no knowledge regarding its purpose as a biological process.’ (Unicef, 2012). This education breaks down the stigma and barriers that menstruation has historically caused for girls across the world.

When we provide a solution to one problem, such as menstruation stigma, we often provide solutions to multiple other gender issues. In the case of ‘Petal’, local women, and where possible men, are included in the process and are empowered to start a business together. This may address traditional gender roles in their communities, putting women on a more equal footing with the men. Furthermore, breaking down the stigma surrounding menstruation by educating the community will benefit not only school aged girls. It will benefit adult women too; freeing them from judgement and potential discrimination.

We are still a long way from achieving real gender equality. But the good news is that social enterprise ‘Petal’ is effective and ready to be franchised out to charities.

Bringing it all together

Day 6 & 7 of the training and it is all coming together! The Organisation for Community Action (OCA) team have absorbed the training like a sponge! Huge credit must go to the Step Up programme, for which there is so much complementary content.

On one side of the room we have the team practicing the entrepreneur selection interviews. On another side, people are making towels to show the Step Up communities tomorrow. And on yet another, the team are practicing the training for the entrepreneurs. The room is buzzing!

One of my favourite moments from the whole trip so far, was Ken, a senior consultant working with the OCA team, overlocking a towel. Concentration etched across his face trying to make the perfect towel by going all the way around in one go (no simple task!). All of sudden the normal quiet hum of conversation is disturbed by this massive whoop and dance, as Ken  smashes the task. The whole room, burst out cheering.

It is great to see how the OCA team are using the training they received throughout the past week and bringing it all together in these practice sessions. Taking it a step further, the OCA team are applying some of the training and thought processes to their Step-Up programme; always looking to improve. The exact mentality we look for in partners.

We are all eager to test and experience. So, not content on waiting for the Roots EcoSan toilets to be built, we instead decided to build a Roots urinal for the OCA team during the lunch break. The first thing the OCA team did (after trying it of course) was to start thinking how to make one for the girls…


Tomorrow, we travel into the field to excite the community with these businesses and start the entrepreneur selection process. And somehow, Bradley has got a bit lost and has ended up in Kenya…