Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Non Profits Can't Scale"

The next time you hear someone say this, confront them. Confront them with One Acre Fund, or Envirofit, or Root Capital, or Doctors Without Borders, or VisionSpring, or Aravind Eye Care.

Successful non-profits can scale, and some of them are doing it. It is time to study what they are doing right, and stop the silly talk.

Last year, there was good news about progress on maternal mortality. In the past few weeks, there has been good news about malaria mortality. Non- profits played a big role in both of these. Certainly, neither of these problems are past, and I am sure non-profits will continue to play a role in building on these gains.

Yes, there are unique challenges for non-profits, but some of these organizations are solving them. And yes, of course, we need for profit enterprises working in these fields as well. If you are working on a BOP start up, I still suggest you try to find a for profit business model first. But if that doesn't work (as it did not with Envirofit), you don't need to give up. Non profits can scale. The organizations listed above are a good place to start if you want to study how.
NOTE: this picture is from a recent article about One Acre Fund in Good Magazine.

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