How did you scale your social innovation and what tips for scaling could you share?
Building and scaling a successful project is a collective effort. Different groups of stakeholders within and outside your company join forces and contribute to the sustainable scale up of your project. There are many ways of scaling up. We made interview with 8 inspiring social innovators from different fields, sectors and countries running today some of the most successful projects in the field to share with us how they scaled their projects and organizations and here is what we’ve learned.
Our approach to scaling is to work with as much of the industry sector as we can, and to add value to their work. If indoor navigation app developers use our standard and provide audio navigation, their products become accessible to vision impaired people. The standard is free to use and saves developers time and research costs. This also means as many end users as possible will benefit from our innovation, by having a wide range of navigation apps which use the standard to choose from. When scaling up, it is important to understand what value your innovation adds to an existing or emerging market and the best ways to speak to the players active in that market.
Tiernan Kenny, Wayfindr
Quid managed to scale thanks to the network it was able to create on the local as well as national level, not only with other non-profit organizations and NGOs, but also with for profit companies and other fashion brands. The network with NGOs and non-profits has been essential as it is through this network that the project has been able to learn from other social projects on the territory, understand what the true needs there are and on which of them it can direct its own activity without duplicating something that already exists. At the same time this network is proving crucial in developing further, connecting with others and creating greater impact through these very collaborations. With regards to the for profit companies and the other fashion brands, such players prove relevant for Quid as a consequence of its intention of creating more awareness on the issues raised by the new-born ethical fashion sector; the realization of these brands of the latest consumers’ needs, who are asking companies to implement more responsible production patterns as they become more and more prone to responsible consumption their selves, have led many brands to start collaborating with Quid or at least to start getting to know us. The expansion of the number of collaborations that has come as a consequence of this market shift, has led the Cooperative to greater production volumes, thus sustaining the increase in number of people that the cooperative can employ.
Giulia Houston, Progetto Qiud
We come up with new ideas for scaling our business almost every day. In my opinion, it is very important to think outside the box. But if we are talking about getting a social innovation recognised across the world, this is the result of a good product, backed up by good marketing.
Željko Khermayer, Feelif
It will sound simple but is more cumbersome in practice: start contacting people and focus on developing relationships not on getting some money from the people you call. Those relationships will bring more information and opportunities in time. That’s how I started scaling the Fear & Fail initiative, soon after we were organising events in Vienna. Then I signed-up to a program called Impact Hub Scaling Program and that supported me to travel to Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Jose Antonio Morales, Lincoln Island Initiatives
There was some business knowledge missing from our organisation. So we got ourselves many mentors from social enterprises and some CEOs, some experts in marketing, and this really helped. Having a mentor in marketing is always cool. I think this brought us to another level. We were involved in a programme that was about social educating, people from social enterprises. We had reciprocal relationships with them. We are also a valuable source of information. We are also experienced in how things are done sustainably.
Maja Rijavec and Alenka Kreč Bricelj, Smetumet
It was a very intuitive process. It was never a very planned process. This was the background for our NGO. Nefiks is not the only thing we do. We build strong activities around Nefiks (employment club, career club, the ‘Kolegice’ project for young women). Nefiks grows with these activities. We also have a group of Nefiks tutors. These are young people who promote Nefiks and they give us feedback on how to make it even better for young people. This is a very spontaneous process that would be difficult to scale.
Alenka Blazinšek, Nefiks
Part of our scaling is collaboration with offline stores from Romania. We deliver products to the biggest chain of libraries in Romania and this helps us to sell our products and also helps us to be present on the Romanian market. We haven’t planned to scale our social business yet, but we will do it in the future.
Andreea Zaharescu, Upside Down
We haven’t yet made an analysis on how many people we reach, but at this point it is enough to make our business viable. We believe that the most important thing for reaching users is the quality of the product, which speaks for itself. And another important thing is putting a lot of energy into explaining and educating users, so that they know, what they are buying and why the products are different.
Živa Lopatič, BUNA
Would you like to learn how inspiring social innovators answer other important questions such as how to start your project from scratch or how to make sure that your idea actually fits the needs of the users?
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