October 28, 2009Doug Hadden
More entrepreneurs should consider the For Profit Social Enterprise route. More companies doing “good” should consider this approach. FreeBalance is a For Profit Social Enterprise software company that helps governments around the world to leverage robust Government Resource Planning (GRP) technology to accelerate country growth.
FOPSE is much more than Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In fact, it’s more than CSR on steroids. FOPSE is a commitment where CSR is core. We had some difficulty in expressing how this core commitment differs from traditional for profit company CSR programs until we read a landmark study by Harvard professor Daniel J. Isenberg. We knew that we had found our definition. We’re sharing what we have learned.
1. FOPSE requires addressing a social issue as core to the company mission
In many ways, FOPSE companies differ from Non-Profits in only one respect: profit. There must be a social linkage for FOPSE products and services. FOPSE is not marketing – it requires a real commitment.
FreeBalance GRP products and focused methodology support financial reform and modernization to improve governance, transparency and accountability. Good governance is required to improve development results – across all sectors: education, health, economics, etc.
2. FOPSE requires leveraging the for-profit model to improve efficiency and effectiveness
The for-profit model drives company effectiveness because of the competitive environment. Competition means gives customers choice. It improves products and services. It validates that products and services have value.
FreeBalance operates in a highly competitive field of Government Resource Planning. There are numerous IT alternatives for governments. This environment has driven product features and technology choices.
3. FOPSE is global in nature
Professor Isenberg suggests that FOPSE companies must have a global footprint. It may be unrealistic to create a global company immediately. But, FOPSE companies focus on global growth. And, there are many tools available to assist organizations to enter global markets.
FreeBalance has customers in 15 countries around the world. We have at least one Ministry of Finance-level implementation at the national level in every World Bank region.
3. FOPSE requires local delivery
FOPSE companies do not just extend products and services to address social needs. It is more than changing product labels. FOPSE companies deliver products and services directly to the local customer. They do not place a set of intermediaries between the company and the customer.
We’re involved in every FreeBalance GRP solution. We deliver it to governments around the world. We hire local staff to provide on-going support. And, we have set up regional development and support centres around the world.
4. FOPSE requires a customer-innovation approach
Companies traditionally expand globally with existing products and services. These products and services are reluctantly adapted to meet the local context. FOPSE companies question traditional business models and conventional thinking. They do not think about extending markets. They look at the customer context and innovate from there. They must find more ways to engage with customers.
We changed our business model in 2006 to become customer-centric and drive innovation by direct contact with governments. We enabled customers to drive our product roadmap. Our organizational structure was changed. We continue to innovate this ISO-9001/2000 certified process to more effectively meet customer needs.
5. FOPSE means sustainability
FOPSE companies examine the consequences of their actions. FOPSE companies are environmentally conscious. They do not upset the local business ecosystem by putting local entrepreneurs out of business. Their solutions are financially sustainable by customers.
Sustainability is a key theme in Government Resource Planning. That’s why we started this Blog last year. Many of our customers implement GRP using donor funds. But, as World Bank statistics show, many governments are unable to sustain these solutions when the funding ends. We have been able to improve sustainability through product design and capacity building.
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