Thinking Holistically to Impact Social Business Model

Updated: Dec 2, 2018


CONTEXT

Books International is a social enterprise with an aim to produce and provide books for children in Least Developing Countries (LDCs). I was attracted to its social mission of providing children’s books in native languages.

I found its mission distinctive from many existing charity-based projects like building libraries, and decided to become their pro-bono consultant. While I had years of expertise in business development, I did not have much knowledge on LDCs. Aware of this challenge, I embarked on the consulting project.


PROJECT

I learned to think holistically while being aware of my limitations. At the start of the consulting, I clearly communicated to the enterprise about areas I could feasibly and meaningfully contribute. Then I analyzed its social business model from perspectives of beneficiaries, consumers, and partners and proposed an updated business model. In the meantime, I tried to address my challenge by studying characteristics of LDC markets, interviewing area studies experts and attending seminars on African countries by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.




RESULT AND LESSON LEARNED

The founder of Books International was satisfied with consulting outcomes leading to many more strategic solutions than he had earlier expected. To date, this enterprise provides children’s books in native languages in 25 African countries. Strategy development tools drawn from my corporate experience helped the involved parties have a holistic view of a market while we are aware of limitations in applying these tools to non-corporate entities (i.e. social enterprises and NGOs). This project inspired me to contemplate how I could use my expertise to advance the social good.