Notes from Global Health & Innovation Conference at Yale University

I wanted to bring you some information that I thought was interesting from the recent Global Health & Innovation Conference that was held on April 17-18, 2010 at Yale University sponsored by Unite for Sight. I was very pleased with the emphasis on social enterprise and entrepreneurship within this conference. Many times as health professionals we get so deep into our work that we fail to see the bigger picture and how we can make much greater impact. Below are some of the takeaways from the conference:

“Social Enterprise Workshop: The Promise and the Perils” presented by Jerr Boschee
Most non-profits operate on a dependency model where they are dependent upon philanthropists and various subsidies including grants. As a non-profit community, we need to move in line with business models and creating at least a mixed revenue sustainable model. This could include: angel seed, working capital, fundraising, business ventures, and other earned revenue sources. Moving to a new model is important because of the increasing costs, decreasing revenues, increasing number of people in need, competition, greater demands for accountability, and wavering public trust.

Entrepreneurs are nothing more than people with ideas who can turn them into business ventures. They are able to confront the social needs of society or a community through the business itself. Entrepreneurs need (1) elbow room, (2) flexibility, and (3) be able to take pride in their work performance. Entrepreneurship comes down to YOU, and profit is merely a way to finance tomorrow. People are what make great ideas run. Not everything or every program is replicable.

There are different types of leaders within social enterprises including: (1) Innovators or dreamers; (2) Entrepreneurs or builders; and (3) Professional managers or trustees.

Finally, here are some critical success factors:
1. Candor and delusions of adequacy
2. Passion
3. Clarity of purpose
4. Sufficient resources
5. Courage and commitment
6. Market pull
7. Willingness to plan
8. Use of a “niche” mentality
9. Be a player or don’t play at all
10. Aggressive pricing
11. Strategic partnerships
12. Flexibility

The bottom line is that you have to DO SOMETHING. There’s never going to be a perfect time or absolute perfect conditions. Make something happen.

“Can You Hear Me Now? Influencing Policymakers to Hear Your Call for Increased Support” presented by Suzanne N. Smith
Some of the most important things to remember about advocacy are that: (1) long-term gains are more important than short-term rewards, (2) building relationships takes time and nurturing, and (3) you can’t forget the “What have you done for me lately?” syndrome.

There are six principles of successful advocacy. These principles include:
1. Reciprocation – People believe that favors must be repaid.
2. Scarcity – Products/services seem more valuable when in limited supply or are exclusive.
3. Authority – People defer to authority.
4. Consistency – People feel that they should be consistent even when it no longer makes sense.
5. Consensus – People often decide what is correct based on what others think. When people see themselves as similar to another, they are more likely to follow their lead.
6. Liking – People prefer to comply with requests from people that they know and like.


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