“In the private sector, you innovate or you die. You have to bring new ideas, new approaches, new products, more efficient services to the marketplace, or you don’t thrive. There’s nothing analogous to this in the social marketplace. That’s why social entrepreneurship is so promising: it brings together the systems, the methods, the reach, of both the public and private sectors to tackle these very difficult problems. We’ve learned the role of NGOs should increasingly be as facilitators and innovators. For Mercy Corps, we wanted to be among the world’s leaders in bringing different approaches, new ideas, new partnerships and new methodologies to development that potentially could be breakthroughs. To that end, we created a dedicated social innovations team that looks for interventions with the potential to leverage markets, benefit large numbers of people and achieve financial sustainability. This team serves as internal consultants to help with a brand new idea that’s just forming, with designing a pilot program or developing a business model, as well as with thinking through investment, partnership and fund-raising strategies for initiatives that meet our “breakthrough” criteria. Along the way, one of the important things we’ve learned is that you have to have constant mechanisms for feedback and learning internally and with partners.”

Interview with Mercy Corps CEO on NextBillion.net

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