WASHINGTON, D.C., USA | November 18, 2015 – Unreasonable Institute, a leading incubator, and Pact, an international development organization, recently partnered to support nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Ukraine that are launching social enterprises.
The NGOs are working to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine. As they have seen funding from international donors decrease over the past few years with further reductions expected in the future, some have proactively begun building revenue-generating businesses to support their social missions.
In addition to creating revenue to support the organizations’ mission, the businesses have also built social missions into their models – from a furniture business staffed by people from marginalized and difficult-to-employ populations to a daycare that uses revenue from non-subsidized clients to subsidize care for children whose parents are receiving an NGO’s help.
“We are excited to see these mission-driven organizations innovate new ways to combat the epidemic in Ukraine. They bring the same creativity and ambition to their resourcing strategy as they do to working with their clients. We know that donor-funded organizations like ours and our partners’ need to be creating new funding models if we are to be sustainable for the long-term,” said Alyona Gerasimova, Chief of Party for Pact’s RESPOND project, which is funded by USAID and supports Ukrainian organizations fighting HIV/AIDS.
The idea of supporting social enterprises emerging from Ukrainian civil society came from USAID, Gerasimova reports, as part of their overall push for sustainability.
The participating NGOs will be part of a yearlong initiative, which began with a five-day business model validation workshop in Kiev last week. The workshop, based on lean start-up principles, helped participants question their assumptions, hear directly from their customers and rapidly iterate their ideas. The year of support will also include ongoing mentoring from Ukrainian social entrepreneurs, further training on business principles and a study tour to the United States.
“I’ve been to multiple trainings on resource mobilization and business development,” said Dmytro Tygach, a participant from Lviv. “But this is the first workshop that truly equipped me with a set of tools that will help me to get the right start. And one of the most valuable takeaways is that we need to listen to our customers.”
Unreasonable Institute CEO Teju Ravilochan described the launch workshop this way: “The workshop we ran with these organizations pushed them to the edge of their comfort zones, forcing them to talk to customers on the street and build and test real prototypes within a matter of days. In a short time, we saw the participants move from skepticism and reluctance to an eagerness to experiment and to learn deeply from their customers. I can’t get enough of watching that transformation happen. It’s exhilarating to witness the dedication these organizations have manifest in a courage to try new things they’ve never done before in service of their missions. I’m inspired by what Pact is making happen in Ukraine and I hope it can be a model we can replicate anywhere else in the world there are populations in need.”
View a slideshow of the workshop on YouTube.
For more information, please contact Stephanie Marienau Turpin, Pact’s Director of Social Enterprise Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Pact – Pact is the promise of a better tomorrow for all those who are poor and marginalized. Working in partnership to develop local solutions that enable people to own their future, Pact helps people and communities build their capacity to generate income, improve access to quality health services, and gain lasting benefit from the sustainable use of the natural resources around them. At work in more than 25 countries, Pact is building local promise with an integrated, adaptive approach that is shaping the future of international development. Learn more at www.pactworld.org.
About Unreasonable Institute – Unreasonable Institute gets entrepreneurs what they need to scale solutions to the world’s biggest problems. We do this by identifying entrepreneurs with the potential to address problems like poverty, lack of education, and social injustice at scale, and then by swarming them with hand-picked mentors, funders, and partners as well as workshops to help grow their impact. And once entrepreneurs leave our program they can forever access and engage with this global network of entrepreneurs, mentors, and funders that now spans over 50 countries. Our goal is to help each of these ventures scale up to meaningfully impact the lives of at least one million people each. Learn more at www.unreasonableinstitute.org.