Achieving scale is a challenge as old as the field of social enterprise itself, one whose wide-reaching implications cut to the heart of what it means to make meaningful impact. Any strategy to positively affect the wellbeing of the poor and vulnerable must account for the vastness and pervasiveness of the problems that these populations face. Increasingly, social actors are proposing market-based solutions to reach that critical goal.
Market-based solutions, which have been known by multiple other names—including inclusive businesses and impact enterprises—are businesses that, with the help of funders, investors, foundations and other providers of capital, look to generate both financial returns and social impact at a large scale.
This increasing interest prompted Monitor Deloitte to conduct a study titled Beyond the Pioneer, carried out by the Monitor Inclusive Market (MIM) team in Mumbai, India, exploring cases of industry facilitation and growth, specifically in Asia and Africa. Cases were identified in a range of sectors, including financial services, energy, agribusiness and healthcare. The Rockefeller Foundation supported this research, and recently hosted Monitor Deloitte for the launch of the report.
The report focuses on 5 different objectives, each providing stakeholders with the resources and examples needed to identify barriers, and develop scalable solutions:
- Describes the key scaling barriers that exist within and outside the firm
- Spotlights the crucial role played by industry facilitators, who are critical in resolving key scaling barriers
- Analyzes historical and current cases where business models have scaled, to understand the practices that underpin successful facilitation
- Explains the new risks that emerge after scale has been achieved
- Provides practical recommendations for funders and policy-makers
The Beyond the Pioneer report makes a strong case for how market based solutions, not just single firms but at the level of entire industries, can get to larger scale. Similarly, The Rockefeller Foundation is currently exploring why impact enterprises—which intentionally seek to grow to sustain financial viability, realize increasing social impact, and influence the broader system in which they operate—suffer similar barriers to growth. The project, which identified 5 unique platforms, each developing solutions to address barriers to growth at the enterprise level, will culminate this year with detailed analyses on the success and challenges for each proposed innovation.
The Foundation’s Impact Enterprise work, Monitor Deloitte’s Beyond The Pioneer report, and numerous other activities undertaken by our partners have all identified the importance of inclusive business growth, with the hope that this emerging body of research will empower other stakeholders to fund, support, and promote innovative solutions.