Matchmaking is notoriously difficult to do, with few successful examples and participants often leaving events with unmet expectations. We decided to have a very focused and targeted event that brought the right mix of people together to connect and explore replication opportunities. Our focus was on creating an initial contact, our hypothesis was that if this happened successfully, match-making and pairing up between successful IB’s, second movers and partners would more likely happen as a next step. We piloted an innovative structured networking format, the Meet and Multiply event at the IDB’s Base Forum last month to test out this hypothesis.
As a company of experts focused on the creation of wealth at the base of the economic pyramid, one of Endeva’s objectives is to support and accelerate the replication of successful inclusive businesses.
Last year we published a report commissioned by BMZ that focused on 12 ways ecosystems players can promote replication. This year we decided to try out some of these recommendations ourselves. We took on recommendation #7: “Connect inclusive businesses with potential replication partners and second movers”. As one of the interviewees for report, Harvey Koh from Delotte put it “If you want more replication to happen “by accident”, you need to increase the probability that such accidents will occur, such as by getting more of the right people together in one room.”
Endeva came up with the idea of the Meet and Multiply event, a new and innovative format that was based on the simple idea of bringing the right group of people together in one room. IDB agreed to have us pilot it at the Base Forum as a half-day event on June 28. This pilot event focused on replicating 4 inclusive businesses from India to Latin America. The effort evolved into a joint initiative of several partners. IBAN, BOP Inc and SNV provided funding to cover part of the event costs, IDB and ADB brought in the heads of the Indian inclusive businesses, R4D helped with the design of the event and finding adopters, Minka Dev helped with dissemination and Connovo co-organised the event with Endeva.
The event had 3 key elements.
The Right people
The event featured a well-curated participant list. Attendance was by invitation only and those interested in participating had to submit an application form for consideration. Three groups were invited:
- Originators: 4 successful inclusive businesses with replicable models. The models where from the agriculture sector; Jain Irrigation and EKutir as well as the Health sector; Narayana Health and Ross Clinics. All models had an interest in replication and were seeking partners to adopt or replicate their business model in Latin America.
- Adopters: About 25 intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs that where keen to adopt and adapt one of the originator models in Latin America.
- Partners: investors, banks, donors, consultancies, intermediaries, NGOs and experts who can support the successful replication of a business model.
A significant amount of time was spent on identifying the right people to participate in the event. Leveraging the networks of key partners with local contacts was crucial. The networks of Mexican business builder Connovo as well as the IDB through their Base Forum registration list were particularly valuable. It was important to keep the event small. We aimed to have around 50 participants. The event received very strong interest from Ecosystem partners who were keen to support replication. Partners who could clearly offer a product or service to participants where invited to attend.
An interactive session
Once we had the right people in one room it was important not to bore them with PowerPoint presentations and glossy accounts of success. Instead we focused on small group discussions and structured networking formats. Candidates were encouraged to speak frankly and openly about their experiences. We kicked off the event with a short talk by Javier Okhuysen cofounder of Sala Uno, a company that has successfully replicated that Arvind eye care model from India to Mexico. Javier’s reflections on Sala Uno’s replication journey were both inspiring and grounded in reality. Javier did not shy away from addressing the challenges they faced along the way. We then spent most of the afternoon in small group discussions where moderators guided discussions with a Q and A format. Each group had an originator, up to 10 adopters and several ecosystem partners
More than just an event
Meet and multiply was designed as more than just an event from the beginning. The event is the beginning of a process along which we hope to accompany some of the participants and respond to needs where possible. This is why a strong partnership network is crucial.
At the end of the event we asked participants to make commitments on what concrete actions they would take to move replication forward. We received 30 commitments that we will follow up on during the course of the year. This close contact with originators and adopters will also allow us to explore how best to continue to support and accelerate replication as matches as begin to be formed.
For now it seems the pilot round of meet and multiply was successful. Many participants left the event feeling excited, inspired and keen to take things forward. The event feedback survey confirmed this as did follow up discussions with several participants. We know that a few organisations have started to pursue replication more seriously. Our strong partner network means that we can help connect replication pairs with rescoures and support e.g BOP Inc’s platform can support adopters with useful resources to start and grow their business, R4D’s community practice can help primary care adopters of the Ross Clincs model learn and exchange with like minded entrepreneurs. While financing partners such as IFC, IDB and ADB can support with financing certain businesses.
Finally, while things seem promising at this stage. It will be important to see how things progress over time and what specific outcomes start to emerge over the next months. We plan to run the event at other conferences, including at the ADB’s conference in Manila in January 2016. I hope to post an update on how things progress. Feel free to get in touch with me if you would like to join as a partner to the event or you would like to look into incorporating this format at a relevant conference.
This blog originally appeared on the Inclusive Business Hub, and is a part of the July 2015 series on inclusive business in Latin America and the Caribbean. View the full series for more from practitioners, inclusive businesses and researchers in the region.
-By Tendai Pasipanodya
Photo: Ross Clinics