The real changemakers
In the wrong hands, it could have been the opener to a very off-colour gag. ‘What do you get when you cross Richard Branson with Mother Teresa?’ Pamela Hartigan’s eyes gleamed as she answered ‘a social entrepreneur!’ and a room of SVA social investors immediately ‘got’ who they were there to meet and learn more about.
Pamela, a world authority on social entrepreneurship, was speaking at an SVA event dubbed ‘Changemakers: A New Conversation about Social Innovation’. A combination of panel discussion, introductions to SVA’s venture partners and inspirational speech from Pamela, the event marked the culmination of 12 months’ work to evaluate the effectiveness of SVA’s venture partnerships, refine our model for stronger service and transition not only SVA’s team but our venture partners – each led by a social entrepreneur – to our engagement model for the future.
Over the last year all of SVA’s venture partners were asked to reapply for new multi-year, engaged partnerships with SVA. It was an intense and rigorous process that saw the development of a three-five year strategic plan for each venture to maximise their potential social impact. SVA’s Venture Development and Consulting teams challenged the social entrepreneurs and their boards to re-align to new visions for change as well as to become accountable for clear stretch goals. Six of SVA’s former stable of 12 venture partners have since transitioned into SVA’s new portfolio of eight ventures, which also includes two new venture partners.
In preparation for ‘Changemakers’ and as the first engagement activity to build their fundraising expertise, each venture partner spent considerable time with SVA’s Social Investment team developing their investor pitches. On the morning of the big event, SVA gathered these eight social entrepreneurs together for them to share their visions for growth with each other and the team at SVA. What unfolded in that session was amazing.
As each of the social entrepreneurs stood up and shared their story, there was a palpable sense that these leaders were an unstoppable force armed with the passion, persistence and determination to bring about a better world for their organisation’s participants and communities. In the conversations that followed, the power of the portfolio approach was at play, with ideas swapped, experiences shared and opportunities to connect across programs, networks and IP exchanged.
Not only was there a deep sense of pride for these social entrepreneurs for all they had achieved, but the broader SVA team were deeply touched, some to the point of tears. This session did something that we hadn’t planned, and that was to reconnect us all to why we worked for SVA, to remind us of the power and importance of these changemakers in our country and to reinforce, certainly for myself, what is important in life.
These social entrepreneurs continue to be a source of hope, strengthening my desire help them realise their full potential by harnessing the power of SVA’s team of specialists, our social investors and supporters.