Social Enterprise: Endeavor Global
Social Entrepreneur(s): Linda Rottenberg
Sector(s): Enterprise Development
Location(s): Latin America, Middle East, Southeast Asia
Enable high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets to create jobs and grow their companies by helping them overcome significant barriers to growth.
The Innovation Explained:
Entrepreneurs in emerging markets face tremendous cultural and structural barriers that hinder the growth of their companies – lack of access to role models, contacts, capital and qualified management expertise, to name but a few – which slows not only their organization’s growth but also the sustained, broad-based economic growth they could collectively unleash. “Incubators, accelerators and business competitions focus on the start-up phase,” said Linda Rottenberg. “But it’s really during scale-up phase when entrepreneurs get stuck and need the most support. So we focus on supporting scale-ups, not start-ups.”
Currently operating in 17 countries, Endeavor’s “pull model” requires engagement by local private sector leaders who pledge their time and money to open an Endeavor affiliate. “We built a franchise system whereby we raise funding, support and board commitments from the private sector before we go into any country,” said Linda Rottenberg. “Everyone’s using the same strategic plan, the same set of goals and the same global network, but they can adapt and customize it for their country. We co-create with our local boards.”
Endeavor developed a six to twelve month selection process whereby candidates applying to any one of the 17 national affiliates must first pass a series of local and regional interviews before being presented to one of Endeavor’s international selection panels. Over the last 15 years, Endeavor has screened and provided feedback to over 30,000 candidates and selected more than 766 high-impact entrepreneurs through this process. “Our search and selection process is so rigorous, it’s a seal of approval that attracts investors and strategic partners and enables the entrepreneurs to secure resources even beyond what we provide directly,” said Rottenberg.
Once selected, the high-impact entrepreneurs have access to an unrivalled network of seasoned business leaders, called the VentureCorps, which they can tap into for mentorship, networks, strategic advice and inspiration. In this way, Endeavor not only selects high-potential entrepreneurial talent but enhances the ecosystem in which these companies operate by connecting them with top local business leaders and creating a comprehensive support system.
Endeavor Entrepreneurs have created over to 200,000 high, value jobs, generating US$ 5 billion in revenue in 2011 alone and averaging a 69.4% growth rate within the first two years of selection into the Endeavor network.
Why This Matters
The key to unleashing the potential in emerging markets is oftentimes in supporting their entrepreneurial ecosystems. In Silicon Valley, for example, where the environment is well-developed for innovation and entrepreneurial activities, it is not simply a concentration of entrepreneurs, but also a community that actively supports them – from universities with excellent research and development capacity to investors and advisers willing to take risks and get involved.
By promoting high-impact entrepreneurs and creating role models, Endeavor is fostering a larger culture of entrepreneurship in developing countries. As a result, jobs are created, and most importantly, human, social, intellectual and cultural capital are all enhanced, creating pockets of future Silicon Valleys around the world.
Be clear on what’s core and what can be compromised. “I realized I had to give up a lot of control if I wanted top leaders in these countries to contribute a serious amount of their time,” said Rottenberg. “It’s helpful if you understand what are the things that cannot be changed – in our case, the brand has to be consistent, all entrepreneurs have to be selected through an international panel, things like that – and what are the things you can be flexible and adaptable on.”
Collect data to evaluate and improve your customers’ satisfaction. “We are very data driven and we are constantly tweaking our services based on what’s popular and what’s working and what’s not,” said Rottenberg. “We survey our entrepreneurs several times a year with the Bain Net Promoter System to determine how satisfied our customers are – not overall, but how satisfied they are with every service.”
Build a solid team. “Too many social entrepreneurs complain about the ‘cult of the charismatic leader syndrome’,” said Rottenberg. “I always say, ‘You can’t be a pop star – you have to be a rock band.’ You have to invest the resources to build a really strong senior team so it’s not just a one person show. Endeavor has an incredible senior management team.”