Ready, Steady, Scale!

PDF icon Ready, Steady, Scale! 2017, 31 pages


A lot of faith has been put in social businesses to sustainably solve large-scale development challenges. Many social enterprises have proven it is possible to design and successfully deliver appropriate poverty solutions through inclusive business.

However, only a few have had a significant impact on the problems they are trying to solve. Scaling social businesses in Base-of-the-Pyramid (BoP) markets requires a new generation of highly adaptive organizations that can operate and grow in uncertain and resource-limited markets where traditional business approaches often don’t apply. Such organizations need to develop solid foundations in order to
be ready for the complexities of scale in BoP markets. Yet we have seen time and again pressures - internal or external - to achieve scale too quickly, jeopardizing the chances of success for social businesses.

How can social ventures assess their own readiness to scale? And what aspects of their business need to be adapted to accommodate scale? Funders and ecosystem enablers want to be able to identify scalable social businesses, decide on the right time to invest in them, and develop the appropriate support needed to help them scale their impact.

This document answers some of these questions through a practical self-assessment tool built from the collective knowledge of practitioners who have been engaged in scaling social businesses. It is a simple checklist that enables practitioners to quickly assess their organization’s readiness for scale and to clearly identify areas for improvement in four distinct areas: Social Impact, Financial Viability, Internal Capacity, and External Enablers.

The tool also offers a collection of best practices gathered from the experiences of social enterprises who are presently scaling inclusive business solutions in nutrition, water, health, agriculture, and energy. The best practices are illustrated by concrete lessons learned from these organizations along their scaling journeys.