Observing partners of The 1010 Project in Kenya, as well as listening to our indigenous leaders, I’ve discerned three elements that must be present for a social innovation to succeed.
- Aptitude: A social entrepreneur’s skill or competency which they are offering to their community and to the marketplace.
- Business Acumen: Knowledge of basic business principles and strategies
- Capital Investment: Resources for startup costs, including financial, intellectual, and human capital
In metaphor format, if the entrepreneur and their skill is a Computer, Capital is the hardware and Business acumen is the software.
Development at times has focused primarily on the third element, Capital Investment. And it is true that hardworking, creative social entrepreneurs in impoverished countries have remarkable aptitude but often lack access to basic capital.
However, as Michael Nyangi of LOMORO reminded me in February, many of these community leaders have not received the kind of business knowledge we take for granted in the United States. The average American would have a primary understanding of concepts like budgeting, marketing, and finding your business “niche.” In my experience, the same assumptions cannot be made in the developing world.