Practitioner Innovation Community Projects

Byrraju Foundation (India)

seToolbelt is embarking on a new Practitioner Innovation Community with the Byrraju Foundation.

The objectives of the PIC will be to:

  1. focus on the question of how to ground seToolbelt’s web platform with its virtual resources and knowledge sharing among local technical assistance providers, so they can effectively use, customize and add to seToolbelt resources based on their own knowledge, experience and client needs; and
  2. address specific issues and nuances of social enterprise methodology in the context of rural India and integrated community development.

Together with its partner, the Byrraju Foundation, seToolbelt will convene a Practitioner Innovation Community of practitioners and local technical assistance providers in India in order to perform a systematic analysis of how these providers use participatory diagnostic tools to assess practitioner needs. The group will explore what methods technical assistance providers use to assess practitioner needs, what methods are working and what is not proving effective in the field.

About the Byrraju Foundation - Based in Hyderabad, the Byrraju Foundation founded in 2001 seeks to build progressive self-reliant rural communities, with a holistic approach, by providing services in the areas of health care, environment, sanitation, primary education, adult literacy and skills development. The Foundation currently works in 180 villages in 6 districts of Andhra Pradesh (East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Ranga Reddy and Visakhapatnam), positively transforming the lives of nearly a million people.

Virtue Ventures is collaborating with the Byrraju Foundation on other social enterprise programs and maintains solid relationship with Foundation Leader, Verghese K Jacob. Recipient of a World Bank Innovative Virtual Project award, Byrraju Foundation will be an excellent leader of the Practitioner Innovation Community under this grant and long time partner of seToolbelt.


Grassroots Business Fund Collaboration (Global)

As social enterprises seek to grow sustainably and scale up, they confront a broad range of external and internal obstacles including challenging operating environments, deficient infrastructure, limited access to capital and low organizational capacity, and inadequate business strategies. Through its hands-on approach with investee companies, the Grassroots Business Fund (GBF) recognized that its investee social enterprises were all struggling with the similar challenges which could impede their future growth and profitability. For that reason, in 2010 GBF worked with seToolbelt/Virtue Ventures to hold a workshop for its investees to focus on developing their capacity in three technical areas: investment readiness, managing by numbers, and corporate governance.

The objectives of the workshop were to explore systematic ways of approaching and addressing these common themes, to assist the entrepreneurs in adopting a framework to think about these issues, share potential solutions, create synergies, and develop a follow-on program to support the practical application of these solutions.

The desired outcome of the workshop was to prepare investee firms to apply for grant funding as part of the GBF Challenge Fund and ultimately focus on building their capacity.

For more information about GBF’s Capacity Building Workshop and Practitioner Innovation Community, visit the GBF website.

About Grassroots Business Fund (GBF) - GBF provides investment capital and capacity building to high impact businesses in several developing countries across the globe. GBF’s global approach is to build and support these businesses, which provide sustainable economic opportunities to millions of people at the base of the economic pyramid. The businesses empower the poor in developing countries as independent entrepreneurs and consumers of affordable goods and services.


The SEEP Network (Global)

The SEEP Network has done for microfinance what seToolbelt hopes to do for social enterprise. A main convener of microenterprise practitioners in developing countries, SEEP has championed practitioner led resource creation and methodology development for 25 years. The design of seToolbelt's Collaborate programs are inspired and shaped by the SEEP experience.

In 2009, The SEEP Network and seTool belt, through parent organization Virtue Ventures collaborated to pilot two PICs as a part of SEEP’s Value Initiative.

  • The first PIC aimed to frame social enterprise benefits, synergies, value added, and risks, related to other poverty alleviation practices. More information and outputs are available at here.
  • The second PIC focused on access to social investment. As its primary product, the PIC produced an Introduction to Understanding and Accessing Social Investment.

About SEEP - The Small Enterprise Education and Promotion (SEEP) Network connects microenterprise practitioners from around the world to develop practical guidance and tools, build capacity, and help set standards to advance our common vision: a sustainable income in every household.

In 1985, SEEP was founded by a group of practitioners who believed that sharing practical experiences within a trusting environment would result in improved microenterprise development practices. Today, SEEP's members are active in over 180 countries and reach over 23 million micro-entrepreneurs and their families. SEEP’s most valuable resource is the experience of its members and their commitment to collaboration. This exchange utilizes problem solving, experimentation, and peer-to-peer learning in order to identify common obstacles and develop solutions for reducing poverty.

The unique ability to convene practitioners in a global learning network results in credible, practical approaches that increase the power of enterprise to reduce poverty worldwide.