Tell Me About Some Of Your Projects
I am lucky to be involved in a range of projects that have a common theme:
Working with good people who are using businesses to change the world.
Part of my time is spent overseas, working on the design and rollout of inclusive businesses.
Part of my time is spent running incubator and accelerator programs in various countries.
Part of my time is spent as a mentor and advisor to social entrepreneurs, who are on their way to scaling up their businesses.
Here are some examples of those projects…
Indigenous Business Australia
Indigenous Business Australia have programs for promising enterprises that have genuine social impact. I’m a facilitator of the accelerator program, running sessions on topics like business modelling, value proposition design, real world testing, financial modelling and ugly questions (the confronting conversations that strengthen your business). I love working with their entrepreneurs, they have a remarkable combination of passion, empathy and humility. It’s much easier to teach people with these qualities how to build a strong business, rather than teaching corporate drones how to care about the world around them.
The Difference Incubator runs an accelerator program called Two Feet – named after the idea of getting early stage founders to “stand on their own two feet”.
We focus on building businesses that are desirable to a customer, feasible to run, financially viable and that create real social change. My role is to facilitate the cohorts in Melbourne and Sydney – delivering workshops, mentoring teams and keeping them in good spirits through what is quite a difficult and transformative journey.
Piloting Inclusive Businesses
Morobe Province in Papua New Guinea has tremendous natural resources, and yet most residents live in extreme poverty. Most families are smallholder farmers, who tend a plot of less that 1 hectare for their annual income (usually less than US$300). As part of Business for Development, we work with companies in the area to design new community-owned businesses that can lift at least 1,000 families out of extreme poverty, usually through the power of agriculture. By connecting farmers to supply chains, improving their practices through training and helping them switch to more valuable crops, it is possible to triple their income within five years.
My work is in evaluating the various options for development, then designing an inclusive business that is desirable, feasible and viable. This involves a lot of community consultations, financial modelling, agronomic research, trialling a pilot program and then rolling it out more broadly.
Deakin University run an accelerator program called SPARK, which helps new ventures to test and scale their businesses over a six-month period. I run workshops on business modelling and value proposition design, and am an ongoing mentor for impact focused teams – and have taken four groups through this process so far.
World Vision International
World Vision International use their local representatives in the Pacific to deliver business training, helping entrepreneurs to sell things people want, and build resilient businesses that create employment and develop local industries. Through Pacific RISE, I worked with 26 of their staff as part of a “Train The Trainer” program, teaching them how to coach people in their villages (across Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands). These materials were then adapted to suit each local context, translated and structured to be as simple as possible.
Many parts of the world still have industries that collude against poor farming families. By using middlemen and bottlenecks to set low prices for crops, farmers are kept in extreme poverty and can get caught up in human trafficking and slavery. I worked with Stop The Traffik, an NGO dedicated to helping families escape these awful situations, who were exploring the development of a tea processing factory in Assam, India. Farmers are able to sell their tea leaves for a fairer price, and are able to pay their workers are reasonable wage. Increased competition for tea leaves lifts the market price, and therefore lifts the income of some of the poorest people in the world. We worked with local farmers groups and community leaders to design the business model and investment structure.
YGAP support social entrepreneurs across Australia, Bangladesh, South Africa and Kenya. Their First Gens program takes twelve new businesses that are each founded by a first generation migrant, asylum seeker or refugee. Entrepreneurs attend an intensive accelerator, three months of mentoring and training sessions, then pitch for up to $25,000 of funding. I am fortunate enough to be a facilitator of the intensive workshops, and a judge of their pitch competition. These businesses create inclusive communities, help new migrants connect into corporate networks, inspire young people to enter fields like law and STEM, access appropriate medical care, and levels the job application playing field.
Fitzroy Academy is an online school for entrepreneurs and changemakers. It uses engaging videos and resources to teach essential topics like Design for impact at scale, Customer discovery interviews, Sales for people who don’t like selling and Pitching for early stage investment. I am the teacher for the Business Model Canvas, with twelve short video lessons that walk you through the process. These videos are used by a wide range of incubators, accelerators, schools and not-for-profits, we use them ourselves in Two Feet, IBA and YGAP.
Grow Asia exist to support smallholder farmers in the ASEAN region, using technology to increase their harvests and incomes. There are a lot of innovative projects in the region that use technology to improve farmers’ lives, but they are not well known. I worked with Grow Asia to compile their Digital Solutions Directory, a comprehensive guide to over 60 projects that can be expanded into other countries, allowing investors and NGOs to bring in proven solutions rather than re-inventing the wheel. Solutions cover areas like drones, IoT sensors, microfinance, weather information, access to higher quality farming inputs, price information and blockchain ledgers.
Evaluating Inclusive Businesses
Some communities in developing countries have an economy that is built around unsustainable industries, like mining. While they may provide good incomes when operational, mine closure spells disaster for families that depended on those jobs and royalties. Business for Development works with these companies who are 5-10 years away from mine closure, helping them design new agribusinesses that create employment for anyone who would like to participate, and providing decent incomes for those who take farming seriously. We work alongside community leaders and local farmers to design industries that are appropriate for the local area and that are appealing to farmers, and which have a range of interested buyers for what farmers produce.
Monash University develop social enterprises through their SEED program. Participants refine and iterate their businesses over a four-month process, with the winning team receiving funding. I deliver workshops on topics like business modelling, value proposition design and running effective tests, and help support teams outside of the program.
Future Dreamers run programs that inspire and empower young women in the Byron Bay area. They recently applied to become a Public Benevolent Institution, and as part of the process needed a strong business plan for their application. I worked alongside the founding team to create a clear and compelling overview of Future Dreamers mission, programs, impact and financial sustainability.
Incubate Foundation empower young African Australians to reach their full potential through a range of programs and networks. I was recently the lead facilitator at their social enterprise hackathon, which saw 70 participants design new businesses in the fields of social inclusion, employment, cultural identity and migration. The concepts that came out of the event were fantastic, ranging from hip-hop yoga programs in schools, to employability training for young people, and upskilling workers facing replacement by automation.
Life Without Barriers
Life Without Barriers provide disability support services that help people live life to the fullest. As part of the move to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), organisations are designing new business models that increase the quality of life for a person with a disability. I work with groups like Life Without Barriers to create innovative ideas, map out the business model, test it with customers, run a pilot and then take a range of concepts to the board for a broader rollout. The ideas that come out of this process are fantastic, creating services that customers genuinely want that are also financially sustainable for the organisation to deliver.
Ethical Property Australia
Ethical Property Australia create spaces that make a difference, by building positive communities, reducing environmental impact and delivering solid financial returns to investors. They operate a range of large buildings across Australia, which are made environmentally sustainable and become social impact hubs. I worked with Ethical Property for their first three years in Australia, walking the journey alongside the CEO as they raised their first investment rounds and bought their first large properties. This involved a lot of adjustments to their model, evaluating a range of potential acquisitions, raising funds from investors and winning a NAB Impact Investment Readiness Grant.
If you’d like me to work with your business or program, please send me an email at Isaac@isaacjeffries.com