“During our strategy process, we realised that in order to achieve more impact and stronger sustainability for our projects we have to consider different avenues. We observed the potential to collaborate with other stakeholders such as the private sector and academia. Ten years ago, we already had one successful experience in forming a social business: in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malteser International founded together with other stakeholders a central pharmacy for the professional import and the distribution of high-quality medication. Today, the pharmacy has become more and more independent and has been able to expand. Building on this positive example, we are currently looking into more ideas that allow us to work differently from the traditional development approach.“
Roland Hansen and the social business partner in Uganda - Copyright Peter Pauls
“Aside from the example in DRC, more recently we decided to make a social investment in Uganda. We supported the construction of a factory to produce zero-carbon construction materials in an area where Malteser works with refugees and host communities. This joint project seeks to train young, unemployed refugees and Ugandans. It creates jobs in an innovative business. At the same time, this reliefs pressure on the environment that is already affected by the more than 1.4 million refugees in Uganda who cut the trees for firewood and construction purposes. Traditionally, houses are built with fired bricks that are produced in illegal and inefficient brick clamps. The newly produced construction materials provide a better alternative. We have been able to build schools and health facilities in Uganda and Kenya with the alternative zero-carbon material and support the partner to get access to other communities too. We are not a shareholder, but a strategic partner helping to get this social business started.“
“In the session with Lisa and Thijs, I learned a lot about successful examples. I was astonished how much is possible in this field and how far some other organisations, have already come on a large scale or in small pilots. Lisa and Thijs gave me some tools to convince my sceptical Project and Program Managers in my organisation about the importance and added value of using a business mindset while ensuring social impact. We now have a Regional Business Development Manager based in Africa who has the task to go ahead with this approach. It’s not an easy task: it needs time to change the NGO mentality, where people are generally critical towards the private sector.“
“If you want to invest or become a social business, in my experience, you need to have a vision. Otherwise, your organisation may give up in case of hick-ups or setbacks during the first pilots. It really requires a change in people‘s mindset to really want it and make it happen. It is important to develop the capacity of your staff at an international and regional level and have a dedicated person like our Business Development Manager who can push the approach forward.“
Do you also want to be bold and use a business mindset to turn your projects and project tools into valuable products or services? Join us in the Enterprising Project Design course or contact Lisa Freiburg for more information about the other services we offer.