Business Model (R)Evolution – or how Changemakers keep evolving as they go

business model revolution Changemakers Association

Changemakers (aka Impact Entrepreneurs, and Social Business owners) are Business Revolutionaries: we hack traditional business models to not only make a profit but first and foremost make a difference in the world.

In order to make this change happen in our societies, we often undergo personal revolutions – and our entrepreneurial journeys are full of actions, reaction, and iterations!

And just like any other entrepreneur, the Changemakers’s journey can look like :

 

At Changemakers Association, we’ve supported as well as interviewed & collaborated with 100s of impact-driven entrepreneurs, and there is one thing EVERYONE agrees on: success is not about having a “perfect plan” when you start, it is about your capacity to Learn, Evolve, Iterate, and Persist as you go. 

Learn, Evolve, Iterate, and Persist. 

 

In this article, you’ll discover 3 “real life” stories (from Kenya, Norway and Canada) of how Changemakers keep evolving as they go!


Hopefully it will encourage YOU to continue to persist on your journey to create a better world, and especially if you are not (yet!) creating the impact and/or revenues of your dreams (if that’s your case, make sure you read till the end and keep an eye 👓 for the free resource we have created for you to (r)evolution your own business model! 😉 )


 

Take Crowd Farm Africa for instance. The Kenyan start’up aims at transforming African Agriculture by promoting shareholding/crowd farming in the continent.

Sammy Wachieni, the co-founder and CEO of Crowd farm Africa, had initially noticed a poverty cycle affecting farmers in Kenya when working on Health Development indicators after his studies. He noticed first hand how most farmers don’t consider their activity as an actual business, and that there where many key gaps in the agriculture value chain.

From this initial outlook, the Business Model actually evolved: 1st, Crowd Farm Africa helped farmer expand their land (so that they can not just only try to survive off it, but also create extra value and profit) by tapping into unused “community land” bought thanks to equity crowdfunding.

Then, they ambitioned to also address other gaps in the value chain – so that not only production increases, but also financial literacy, distribution, marketing, export… and came to realize they had to refocus in one area, where they could make the most impact, in a sustainable way.

They are now working on increasing the production of added-value agricultural goods so that Kenya exports less raw goods and can keep the revenues of the transformation on its soil.

“The thing that remains constant is that we are still working in agriculture, and we want to transform it, but in terms of the how, the how keeps on changing.

And as a startup, you have to be open to all those changing things. You cannot say, this is it. It might take 2 to 3 years before you can say, this is it.

The world is changing really fast. If you are static, it may actually work against you. So we are willing to be open to learn, to change, to mutate.”

 

 – Visit Crow Farm Africa’s website –

 

The founder of Rank & File (Purpose-Driven Entrepreneur’s most qualitative online magazine) Kari Enge also emphasize on the importance to iterate as you go and be flexible when it comes to changing plan (or business model).

 

 

What’s especially important in her view is to realize that these iterations are normal, and should not discourage or demotivate you to persist in the direction of your impact dream!

“To early stage Social Entrepreneurs out there, I would say to get ready for the emotional roller coaster that is building an impactful business. The plan that you have in mind at the beginning, is not the plan that will end up going to work.

I remember being told at the very beginning of my journey (and I later only realise how amazing this advise is!) : Plan A never works. And that’s OK. Even when looking at big successful companies, they did not succeed in their plan A. Even facebook, is now in “plan C”. Or paypal, which is actually in it’s 7th iteration (!) from what it’s founder actually thought it would be at the beginning.

I can tell first how those changes of plan will make you feel like a complete failure at times. These roller coaster of going from plan A to Plan B, and from B to C, can be really demotivating. So if you can just cut yourself some slack in these moment, and realise it’s just normal, then you can take that pressure of of yourself.”

 – Visit Rank & File’s website –

 

If iteration is definitely part of every startup’s journey, that doesn’t mean it ever “stops”. Iteration is part of the journey, and shifts in Business Models might be needed even after your model has proven to be both super impactful and financially sustainable. 

Our world is evolving and just as we grow our initiatives, it is important to keep an eye on our industry’s (r)evolutions as well (or end up like Kodak, a once beloved global leader got broke)

Take TEXTBOOK FOR CHANGE for instance. This amazing Canadian BCorp has donated 135,000 used textbooks to East African Universities, and reused + recycled 91,000 … since 2014 (only!)

 

And yet, there will be a (not so distant) day when students won’t study in textbooks anymore (and digital course material will be upgraded without any ongoing recycling needs).

So… what will Textbook for Change do ?!

Here is what Chris Janssen, founder of Textbook for Change, shared with us during his interview for Changemakers Show (episode 17) :

“Looking 3-5 years out, it’s really hard to see what the publishing industry is looking like…. So we’re chatting about a new type of direction.

Still keeping our Canadian model – it is sustainable and creates an amazing amount of impact, and we have an amazing team to running the model.

But we’ve pivoted in 2 different directions. One is that in the early days, it is a nightmare for any organization who sells products online, but we have learned the shipping and fulfillment game inside out.

So we’ve recently had a few organizations reach out to us to ask if we could fulfill and ship products out of our warehouse. So we’ve opened a new arm, Impact Fulfillment, to house product and handle the backend for other charities as well.”

 – Visit Textbook for Change’s website –

 

So !

Now that we’ve established that Business Model iteration is part of the journey, you might be wondering: how to know what to shift?!

Once you’re already launched, and when you “feel” you need to shift some things to reach your impact and/or earnings goals, chances are you don’t need to stop everything, but rather find leverages in areas of your strategy that could be more effective.

And well, this is where the Impact & Earning Strategy Check comes into place!

As you probably know, we’re passionate about helping Changemakers succeed. And well, over the past few years of supporting 100+ changemakers all around the world, we’ve noticed a few patterns (7, to be precise) most people stumble on in the first few years of business.

We’ve summarized them for you in this guidebook, so you can identify your missing pieces easier, shift your strategy faster, and gain momentum as soon as possible!

Click here to download your free PDF :

 

Inside, you’ll discover the 7 issues we have witnessed Changemakers struggle with (including Business Model complexity, gap between amount of work and actual results, reaching out to enough ideal customers; just to name a few) AND the most important strategy to focus on if you find yourself in this situation.


What about YOU? Have you made your Business Model evolve since you became a Changemaker?

Don’t hesitate to share your story in the comments below! We’re always on the lookout for authentic and inspiring entrepreneurs for our Show, so sharing your story here could be a great way to get your invitation ticket for our interview guest list ^^


 

 

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