ThinkImpact: Struggles to Success

As we already know social entrepreneurship is a mechanism for organizing problem solving, growing solutions from the bottom up through trial and error; willingness to persevere through adversity and being accountable. Mr. Galick from ThinkImpact was raising about $400,000 a year to support the cause of helping others. Not only just running the enterprise he had to raise funds, monitor and evaluate programs but also provide transparency. His employees were being paid below-market wages, the hours seemed continuous and the organization was soon missing payrolls. Nonprofits are hard because there is always the endless pressure to raise funds and this takes time away from time spent doing the organization’s work. Many aspirational young nonprofit employees become beggars and looking for a way out of the financial reality.

ThinkImpact diversified reached out to seek donations in smaller amounts. Mr. Garlick realized trying to please hundreds of stakeholders was chaotic to try to raise money and run a business all at the same time. ThinkImpact was able to adapt to local needs, provide health workshops that reached hundreds of villages in Kenya. They have over 50 homegrown development project with the collaboration with the local community. In 2010 Garlick wanted to grow to remain nonprofit he estimated he would need about $200.000 to $250,000 more and would keep the company in endlessly locked into fundraising mode.

He thought also about close the nonprofit and start a not for profit company. The new company would buy the assets from the nonprofit to pay off debts which would give him a fresh start. This would inevitably create a new identity for the organization. Universities would pay a fee to ThinkImpact to lead student trips to Africa so they could immerse the students in the field and also give them hands on training in social enterprise. The payments from the university would be the primary source of revenue which would cover the organization’s operating expenses. It would take about 3 years before the company would actually make a profit.

The other option he came up with was keep the nonprofit but start a for profit subsidiary. They would be able to use the advantages of both approaches. The nonprofit side could still pursue grants to pay for certain activities. While the for profit side could take on debt and make use of traditional sources of financing which would make the company less dependent on grant cycles and donations. This would eventually bring a return of a greater pool of capital. ThinkImpact could grow at its own pace which were based on revenues and they would have to worry about donor fickleness.

The company was born from the idea that going abroad should impact you and the people you meet. They currently have over 100 micro enterprises that have been launched and that create over 300 jobs. This is a great example of how perseverance and trying different things to make it work proves to reign through in the end. If they would have given up they wouldn’t be where they are today. This is a great example of some struggles you might face as you end down the pathc of your own social entrepreneurship.

http://www.thinkimpact.com/#!about/cobj

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