In 2013, IIX will be embarking on several partnership opportunities with some of the world’s largest NGOs, some of which are in Bangladesh. To continue to drive momentum forward, I, as part of the IIX Business Development team, was very lucky to travel to Dhaka in October to see firsthand how our regional work can translate on a local level in one of the oldest and most effective social enterprise markets in Asia. Being there during Durga Puja and Eid-ul-Adha was an intense experience that I will also remember. Never have I seen such a sea of cows and traffic interacting so organically with one another!
During the trip, my colleague Saskia Werther and I had the opportunity to travel to Gazipur, an hour outside of Dhaka proper, to visit an enterprise that provides sustainable solutions throughout the entire agricultural value chain. This particular operation enhances local food security, improves incentives for small-scale farming, and generates employment opportunities for locals in the surrounding villages.
While I was busy learning from the workers of this project, the NGO was just as curious about how their work may translate outside of Bangladesh, particularly with regards to effectively emphasizing and communicating the social story of their work. During my time in Asia, I have found this to be a common topic of concern for projects that are considering expansion into outside markets.
Bangladesh remains one of the most sophisticated markets in Asia for Social Enterprises, though they have never formally been categorized as such. The distinguishing factor for these Social Enterprises is that almost all of them began their life as grant-financed not-for-profit entities. While opportunities for replication of successful models which transitioned from grant finance to financial sustainability are unlimited outside the country’s national borders, with BRAC, Grameen Bank, and ASA leading the group, the key factor for success will be turning the Social Enterprises into financially sustainable and investable entities.
In the coming year, the IIX team is excited to work with dedicated organizations operating throughout Asia Pacific to share success stories beyond their borders and most importantly, distill that key ingredient of social, environmental, and financial sustainability so that they can continue doing exceptional work.
Daniel Goldman is part of the Business Development Team at IIX.