Posts filed under ‘DDD Replication School’

Scaling through Sharing: How Digital Divide Data Spreads Innovation

In early 2012, Impact Entrepreneurs delivered a program to train social entrepreneurs from around the world how to apply Digital Divide Data‘s innovative model in their own countries. We recently released a detailed white paper about our approach and findings, which you can download for free. Read on for a brief introduction to the paper. 

While social innovations are widely recognized as desirable, the allure of new and exciting solutions over proven methodologies can be dangerously seductive. In an article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Daniel Ben-Horin noted, “…the problem is not the pace of innovation. The problem is the pace of propagation.” Innovations past need not be discarded in favor of innovations present, and innovation is not synonymous with impact.

With that approach in mind, in 2012 the Rockefeller Foundation awarded a grant to social enterprise Digital Divide Data (DDD) to share their award-winning model with entrepreneurs from around the world. DDD provides business process outsourcing services such as data entry, document digitization, and database support to a global clientele. Their offices in Cambodia, Laos, and Kenya employ staff with disabilities or from impoverished communities and offer them scholarships to pursue college educations. Impact Entrepreneurs was selected to deliver an eight-week training to help entrepreneurs from Africa and South Asia learn from, adapt and implement this innovative model.


DDD offices in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In early 2012, Impact Entrepreneurs worked with a team of MBA students from Portland State University to deliver the training onsite at DDD headquarters in Phnom Penh. Participants from organizations with the capacity to launch new or expanded “impact sourcing” programs based on the DDD model flew in from Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and Pakistan. During the training, they studied not only DDD’s history and approach, but also topics such as marketing, finance, continuous improvement, social innovation and leadership.

Building on the training they received, participants were able to develop and implement a number of successful new programs in 2012:

  • In northern Pakistan, one project received funding to provide employment to 2500 women, special needs individuals, and internally displaced persons.
  • In Nairobi, Kenya, another program hired 412 college students, providing work experience, additional income, and soft skills training.
  • Also in Nairobi, a business incubator adapted DDD’s model to train 20 entrepreneurs, who in turn hired 54 young employees from disadvantaged populations.

The training program was only a small-scale test of an open source model of scaling successful innovations, but it showed great promise. The pressure to identify and fund innovative, new solutions means that existing, proven solutions can sometimes be underresourced despite immense promise. Around the world, organizations like Digital Divide Data have developed and refined scalable, impactful models for creating positive change. We don’t need to reinvent these approaches; we just need to share them.

Ejaz Ali of KADO describes a concept that would go on to secure funding and create employment for 2500 disadvantaged persons in Pakistan.

Ejaz Ali of KADO describes a concept that would go on to secure funding and create employment for 2500 disadvantaged persons in Pakistan.

July 3, 2013 at 8:02 am Leave a comment

Impact Entrepreneurs’ Work Around the World in 2012

At Impact Entrepreneurs, our mission is to unleash the power of business for social impact, and our vision is a world in which all life flourishes. In 2012, we were honored to support a number of inspiring social entrepreneurs, and intrapreneurs, working on ventures demonstrating the amazing potential of business tools to generate positive change. From the entrepreneurial professors and students at our parent institution of PSU, to Portland’s rapidly expanding base of social innovators, to the global changemakers who participated in our training programs in Cambodia and Turkey, we saw firsthand the remarkable drive, insight and talent of those transforming the world for the better. Below, we link to a few of their stories from the past year.
The members of the 2012 Social Innovation Incubator Circuit Program

Graduates of the 2012 Circuit Program, L to R: Lindsey Newkirk, Jon Zintel, Ahmed Abidine, Caren Prentice, Arnold Strong

In Portland, the Social Innovation Incubator graduated its very first Vector Program members, Sustainable Harvest and Preciva, and a new cohort of Circuit Program members. This January, we welcome the next cohort of startup social entrepreneurs in the Circuit Program.

We celebrated PSU’s induction into the prestigious Ashoka U Changemaker Campus Consortium, a recognition of the university’s efforts to advance social entrepreneurship and an exciting opportunity to enhance our impact.

As one element of our Business Leadership Program, employees of The Standard worked on pro bono consulting projects with local nonprofits, helping both sides to see the power of business tools for generating social impact.


Ready Public Charter School, one of the pro bono projects of Business Leadership Program participants.

In Istanbul, we celebrated the graduation of the fourth Mercy Corps cohort of our Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, which trains NGO managers in leadership effectiveness, business fundamentals, and social innovation. More than 150 participants from over 30 countries have now completed the program.

Ejaz Ali, a graduate of our Replication School in Cambodia, used what he learned in the program to develop and launch a new impact sourcing venture that will provide employment to an estimated 2500 women, refugees, and other underserved groups in Northern Pakistan.

The fourth year of our Social Enterprise Field Studies program in India gave graduate students the opportunity to work directly with Indian social entrepreneurs addressing some of the world’s most challenging problems. Participants wrote about their life-changing experiences in the program blog.


Photo taken at CARE India, a field study partner.

Through our programs, we seek to assist social innovators at every stage of their personal and professional journey, whether they are discovering the field for the first time, launching their own ventures, or seeking to accelerate their organizational growth and build staff capacity. We are humbled by the wonderful individuals and organizations we have the good fortune to work with, and look forward to continuing our work with them—and to working with you—in the coming year.

January 4, 2013 at 9:48 am Leave a comment

A Cambodian Social Enterprise Model in Pakistan

By Jacen Greene, Ames Fellow for Social Entrepreneurship at Portland State University

This is the story of how a Cambodian social enterprise, a Portland State University social entrepreneurship program, and a Pakistani nonprofit worked together to develop a program that will employ more than 2500 women, individuals with special needs, and internally displaced persons in one of the most remote and impoverished areas in the world.

In early 2012, Impact Entrepreneurs delivered a “Replication School” in Cambodia to five social entrepreneurs from around the world. Participants from South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Pakistan gathered at the headquarters of Digital Divide Data (DDD), an award-winning social enterprise, to learn how to replicate its successful impact sourcing model. Impact sourcing is the new approach of hiring individuals from the base of the pyramid — those making less than $3000/year [1] — to provide high-quality information technology services. With funding from The Rockefeller Foundation, DDD contracted Impact Entrepreneurs to design and deliver the eight-week program onsite in Phnom Penh.

The Rockefeller Foundation selected participants from high-performing organizations that had demonstrated the potential to create  similar impact sourcing programs. Over the course of the training program, participants learned how DDD provides scholarships and employment to disadvantaged individuals, from participant selection and training to best practices for business process outsourcing and working with foreign clients. In addition, the Replication School delivered specialized instruction in business fundamentals, social innovation, and leadership effectiveness — core capacity-building topics that Impact Entrepreneurs also delivers in its Entrepreneurial Leadership Program to the staff of global organizations such as Mercy Corps. Using this knowledge, each of the participants developed and refined a plan to implement or expand impact sourcing operations through their own organizations.

Ejaz Ali

Ejaz Ali

Ejaz Ali, working for the Karakoram Area Development Agency in Pakistan, developed a proposal for a new impact sourcing program in his remote home of Gilgit-Baltistan. Incorporating what he learned in Replication School courses such as financial management and business process design, Ali was able to design a robust, scalable model with measurable impact. Based on the strength of his proposal, the program was recently awarded funding by German aid agency GIZ and is now ready to launch.

Through this project, we are going to create employment opportunities for 2500 disadvantaged people: 60% women, 5% people with special needs, 10% [internally displaced persons], and 25% male youth of Gilgit-Baltistan. This project will help to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged, frustrated youth and will create a healthy environment in our society. — Ejaz Ali

The success of this proposal demonstrates the promise of social innovation replication. By taking a proven model and training others how to adapt it to the unique needs of their own community, new social ventures can be launched with less uncertainty and risk. Combining a strong organizational foundation with DDD’s generous, open-source model of social innovation and Impact Entrepreneurs’ customized trainings, Ali acquired the leadership, skills and knowledge needed to connect the most effective solutions to those with the greatest need.

For materials on replicating impact sourcing operations or to learn more about the Replication School, please email Impact Entrepreneurs.


[1] As defined by the Monitor Group and Rockefeller Foundation in “Job Creation Through Building the Field of Impact Sourcing.”

December 18, 2012 at 7:07 am 3 comments

Impact Entrepreneurs Replication School: Week 5 Business Process Improvement – Day 3

PSU’s Impact entrepreneurs, in partnership with Digital Divide Data and The Rockefeller Foundation, has been delivering Impact Sourcing Training to social entrepreneurs hand selected by Rockefeller. The training, hosted by digital Divide Data, is preparing these entrepreneurs from Africa and South Asia to launch or expand their own social enterprise initiatives in the Business Process Outsourcing space in their countries.

By Joel Barranger, MBA Portland State University

The group is using the terms from the course content in their everyday language!  This is amazing to me.  It is a display of their learning and their willingness and excitement to begin using the content in their lives.

We’ve been talking about “value” since Day 1.  I’ve challenged each one of them to reflect on value in the form of a deliverable to me.  I did not put many boundaries on it because I really want to see how they shape value in their own minds and use this as an opportunity to be creative.

I also realized that I was not loosened up enough.  I’d spent so little time really speaking to each of the participants.  This came to me when I was asked by Gift, at the end of the day, if he could interview me for their video project.  As he was asking, Carol drifted by and said “yes, Joel, we don’t know anything about you”.  I laughed and said, “wasn’t one slide on the first day enough?”  I knew it wasn’t.  It is not typical of me to be cold and impersonal.

I analyzed why that was and came up with a few conclusions.  First, I want this to be taken seriously.  I realize that you still need to have some elements of fun to make the learning environment strong and positive, but I really needed the group to stay on task to get through all of the material.  I wanted to be able to give them as much of the content I’d prepared as possible.  I did tell them that this is a large reason why I haven’t been too social.  I’ve also started to find that in my professional life I wasn’t advancing my career as fast as I thought I should be.  I attributed this to my lack of seriousness in the workplace.

This helped me realize that there is so much more to being a business professional than just understanding business principles.  It’s time for me to begin analyzing the balance of seriousness and fun within all my professional endeavors.  It starts now as I don’t want this group to slip away from me.

March 5, 2012 at 8:06 pm Leave a comment

Impact Entrepreneurs Replication School: Week 5 Business Process Improvement – Day One

PSU’s Impact entrepreneurs, in partnership with Digital Divide Data and The Rockefeller Foundation, has been delivering Impact Sourcing Training to social entrepreneurs hand selected by Rockefeller. The training, hosted by digital Divide Data, is preparing these entrepreneurs from Africa and South Asia to launch or expand their own social enterprise initiatives in the Business Process Outsourcing space in their countries.

By Joel Barranger, MBA Candidate at Portland State University

My nerves were going crazy.  I was walking into a room full of people I’d never met and only heard some stories about.  They had already spent 4 weeks away from their homes, families and most of the comforts they enjoy in their countries.  In total, there were representatives from 6 countries.  This group was looking to me to teach them about business operations and processes.  Considering what I’d heard about the participants, I wasn’t sure that they’d even find this subject matter interesting.

I’d taught in many different forums, including sessions with this subject matter.  However, it was typically in front of Americans whose first language was English.  Luckily, I have a great support network in the States and I had a facilitator in Cambodia.  The best words I heard before I left the states were from my colleagues, re-assuring me that this would be no trouble for me at all.  Neil, in particular, said “you have this natural way of teaching”.  Thanks Neil, that helped me more than you know.

I’d spent countless hours working on content, from multiple sources.  I’d sat cramped up on a flight from San Francisco to Seoul, S. Korea putting the finishing touches on my slides, only to find myself modifying them again the day before the kick-off (thank you Kathleen for your help!).  I kept thinking to myself, “this is never going to end”.  I had to step back and remind myself of an old quote, “don’t let perfect get in the way of good”.   I shared this same quote with the group on the first day.

That first day came and went.  In my opinion, we pulled it off brilliantly.  It wasn’t perfect, there were flaws, but the most important part was that the students were more than satisfied.  They shared their reflections at the end of the day.  Some admitted they were not too thrilled about the subject matter and one was not sure how this subject could be approached.  Others were quite thrilled to learn more and were really looking forward to the practical applications that would be forthcoming.

I was at ease, for now.  I headed to dinner with Kathleen and discuss the many different aspects of how the 1st day had gone and I had a better sense of how to change future curriculum.

February 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

Impact Entrepreneurs Replication School: Business Process Design & Improvement in Cambodia – Introduction

PSU’s Impact entrepreneurs, in partnership with Digital Divide Data and The Rockefeller Foundation, has been delivering Impact Sourcing Training to social entrepreneurs hand selected by Rockefeller. The training, hosted by digital Divide Data, is preparing these entrepreneurs from Africa and South Asia to launch or expand their own social enterprise initiatives in the Business Process Outsourcing space in their countries.

By Joel Barranger, MBA Candidate at Portland State University

Here I am in Asia.  Yet another trip that takes me halfway around the world.  I’ve almost circled it now.  I never imagined this would happen before I started my MBA program.  And to think, if I’d never started this program, who knows if and when I’d take these kinds of travels.  More specifically, would I ever even reach out to assist with social programs without having been in a program that was particularly involved in social efforts at home and abroad?

It feels familiar now.  No, I haven’t been to Cambodia before.  However, there is that certain “je ne sais que” about travelling internationally.  I felt it as soon as we left the airport in Phnom Penh (it never feels real until you get off the plane and out of the airport).  There was something in the air, the sounds, and the feel of it all.  And it wasn’t even light out yet. 

Insert chuckle here.  This is only the 2nd time I’ve been anywhere outside the western world.  Yes, I will soon have almost a month under my belt, but it’s nothing compared to the people I work with and meet in my travels.  I spoke with a woman on the flight from Seoul, Korea to Phnom Penh.  She’s been to Cambodia 10 times in 8 years with her Christian organization to help with various projects involving the Cambodian people’s development.  There are innumerable ex-patriots and tourists that seem so at home here in Cambodia.  Just last night our colleague Kathleen gave us a rundown of all the places she’s been and I’m having a hard time counting.

But the people are part of what makes it so special.  It doesn’t matter what country they happen to be from, they all make up part of the international experience.  Even the ridiculously angry American tourist who just can’t quite get their pizza right in Asia to the Cambodian military police officer that drives tourists around part time in order to pay for his children to go to college.  It’s the children begging behind a wire fence at Cheung Ek or the monks drifting in and out of shops and schools.  They all help you develop a sense of how magnificent and frightening the world can be all at once.

I am very lucky that I get to partake in this particular experience.  I get to spend my time with people from around the world.  I will be teaching to managers and entrepreneurs from 6 different countries.  How amazing is that?!  I can’t wait to see the changes in them and myself.

Without the people around you, it is so difficult to help establish who you are in the greater world around you.  Of course I’m being vague here, because you can’t know it until you experience it and open yourself up to it.  I challenge you all to do it, but make sure you are accepting of a little challenge and be ready to open your mind.  It will come to you as well, the “je ne sais que”.

February 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm Leave a comment

Impact Entrepreneurs Replication School: Week 2 – Contribution from Participants

PSU’s Impact entrepreneurs, in partnership with Digital Divide Data and The Rockefeller Foundation, has been delivering Impact Sourcing Training to social entrepreneurs hand selected by Rockefeller. The training, hosted by digital Divide Data, is preparing these entrepreneurs from Africa and South Asia to launch or expand their own social enterprise initiatives in the Business Process Outsourcing space in their countries.

By Neil Schimmel, MBA Candidate at Portland State University, Week 2 Instructor (Finance)

I have thoroughly enjoyed my week with the participants of this program and it is important to me their voices are represented in this reporting.  I assess that we have made significant progress in our learning, and it is incredibly relevant to read the perspective of each training program participant.  Following are contributions from the students, which highlight their assessments, their wisdom, their gratitude and general feedback about this process. 

“Receiving information and immediately knowing how to apply it within my personal and organizational sphere makes this training very unique.  As a leader, I know and believe it is my responsibility to ensure the output of the training is replicated to enhance my personal and organizational development.  We are learning a lot from the teachers, fellow participants and mostly the DDD team. It is totally worth my time.”  -Joan Wekesa (Enablis, Nairobi, Kenya)

“This is my first week here, yet so enjoyable. It is amazing how Finance Management, Impact Investing, Innovations and other subjects merge and correlate. [There have been] great lessons from our very informative and interesting instructor, Neil Schimmel.  And not to forget: the incorporation of leadership excellence in our daily learnings—I learned this from Carolyn.”  -Caroline Wanjiku (Daproim, Nairobi, Kenya)

“I am very grateful to Professor Carolyn for her continuous motivational words, encouragements, care, tools, experience sharing and selection of talented co-facilitators. Last week I got great insight from Ms. Lindsey Dietz about the marketing and I have developed the marketing plan for my proposed project with the use of innovative marketing tools. This week I have great opportunity to dive into the knowledge of my co-facilitator, Mr. Neil Schimmel, and upgrade my knowledge of financial management. In last three days, as per my expectation, I got lot of knowledge and tools for analyzing accounts and financial management with his comprehensive knowledge and practical experiences in NIKE, DDD model and other social business experiences. I like very much his style of teaching with the use of different innovative tools, methods and way of engaging participants. It is very difficult to understand accounting and financial terminologies in one go, but I achieved my learning objectives in these days. I must also appreciate my colleagues for their practical experience, intellect, time and knowledge sharing with me. Now I am confident in this week I will be able to develop financial plan for my proposed social business.”  -Ejaz Ali (KADO, Northern Areas of Pakistan)

“The replication school is tailored towards improving our level of knowledge of social enterprises and the level of impact I can bring to bear on the social problems in my country.  Listening to other participants from Kenya, South Africa, Pakistan and the DDD example gives me an impression of what is happening around the world and that is exciting to me.”  -Hayford Dorvlo (E.Services, Accra, Ghana)

“When a group of people come together to engage and share knowledge a whole new world of possibilities opens up to them. Last week my mind was soaked in Marketing and Customer Relationship Management and on how we can attract, retain and grow our customer base as a business. This week we plunged into the whole new world of numbers. Finance is a discipline we are studying this week and Neil is helping us understand how to make investment decisions that would bring our organisations in the social enterprise space return on investment. When I heard that this week we are going to be dealing with numbers, my mind switched off immediately and here am I after two days– its light on again, and I am craving for more numbers.  I want to make those important decisions that will give investors value for their investment (ROI). Welcome to Finance made easy. Neil, bring it on.”  -Gift Serero (Invincible Outsourcing, South Africa)

February 2, 2012 at 8:15 am 1 comment

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