Making an Impact Closer to Home


by Impact Business Leaders

When exploring career options after his MBA, combining his experience in manufacturing and education into a career in social enterprise was an obvious choice for Sudhanshu, a native of India: “I was very interested in getting into the social enterprise space. I thought I could apply my skills from my MBA at Oxford and my previous experience working in the education and manufacturing sector.”

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Sudhanshu talking with colleauges.

But where he would do this work was not as clear. To get more exposure to the field, during his time living in the UK, Sudhanshu did an internship with Clearly So and Acumen Fund. And in addition to learning about the mechanics of impact investing, Sudhanshu had an important realization: “during my internship in the UK with Clearly So, I realized that the definition of social impact for me was different than what I was seeing in the UK. Most of peoples’ basic needs are sorted out in the UK, and it was hard coming from India, knowing the challenges there, to work with a social enterprise company in the UK. So I decided to come back to India.”

Around this time, Sudhanshu found Impact Business Leaders (IBL). Impact Business Leaders aims to connect social enterprises around the world with the experienced talent they need to scale their impact. IBL provides each participant with personalized career guidance, a 7-day orientation workshop to the social enterprise sector, and job opportunities at growing social enterprises and impact investors around the world.

To find a role in India in impact investing, Sudhanshu started by talking to as many people as possible in the sector in India, leveraging his networks. He explained, “After talking to 40-45 people to understand the sector and opportunities available in India, I eventually ended up with two offers. I talked through my options with IBL’s director, David, and I decided it was best for me learn the sector by working with early stage start-ups at Villgro.” At Villgro, Sudhanshu is getting to use his business skills to support entrepreneurs, “I enjoy talking to the entrepreneurs, understanding their vision and requirements, and building it into numbers and projections.”

From ESDECS Edkskills Pvt Limited, an investment Sudhanshu is managing at Villgro.

From ESDECS Edkskills Pvt Limited, an investment Sudhanshu is managing at Villgro.

Sudhanshu’s experience is just one of many in IBL’s growing community of 64 professionals who have successfully made the transition to careers in social enterprise since 2014. And we plan to expand our efforts to meet the needs of the quickly growing global social enterprise sector.

We believe business professionals in the diaspora are key to filling the social enterprise talent gap. In our experience, social enterprises require that the staff they hire are committed to careers in the region and have a strong understanding of the local culture, context, and language. Diaspora professionals are in demand among our partners because they typically fulfill these criteria. Additionally, by definition, they have international experience and cultural understanding of both the region in which they have been living as well as their region of origin.

But despite this demand, it can be difficult for any professional to break into the social enterprise sector, much less someone currently living far from home. IBL can help professionals in the diaspora to have a structured way of returning to their region with high impact and career-advancing jobs in social enterprise. To date, IBL has helped five professionals living abroad to find roles in their home country, and we plan to double that number in 2015. We are actively recruiting East African and Indian diaspora professionals with 5-10 years of work experience and who are eager to use their business skills to make an impact to attend one of our upcoming programs in the UK, India, Kenya, and the US.

Apply to IBL@Oxford by August 25, IBL@ISB in South Asia by September 6, or IBL@Strathmore in East Africa by August 30. Questions? Contact Kim Hendler at khendler@impactbusinessleaders.com