Talk by Rebecca Teo, Deputy Head for Strategic Perspectives at Consulus Global, at the EoC Asia Pacific Summit 2021, Day 2: Community and Impact
Hello and good afternoon to everyone. It has been a really enriching experience so far being a part of this summit yesterday and today, listening to all the amazing experiences of people and companies, and how they, in their own ways and areas of influences, are playing a role in shaping a fairer economy and a more equitable world. What a truly inspiring group we have gathered here.
I am Rebecca, I serve as the Deputy Head for Strategic Perspectives at Consulus Global and today I am grateful for the opportunity to share a little about my experience serving in Consulus and helping businesses during covid-19 for social impact.
Introduction to Consulus and our EoC Approach
So for those of you who might not be too familiar with Consulus, we are a global innovation consultancy present in over 16 countries globally that believes that a culture of purpose and unity is essential for innovation and inclusive growth. We believe in shaping an inclusive economic system and since our inception in 2004, we have implemented systemic innovation solutions for leaders, organisations, and cities from the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.
If you are sitting there thinking about how our beliefs and goals sound very thematically familiar, it’s because the Consulus business model is in fact inspired by the principles of EoC, which was established to enable a new economic system for a united world through a new way of consulting.
Consulus Covid-19 Crisis Clinic
To share an example of how we at Consulus make tangible our EoC commitment through our consulting work, last year, when COVID-19 struck so unexpectedly, many companies and business owners were left in a state of loss, not knowing what to do or how to react to not just stay afloat but to make sure that their employees were taken care of in such an unprecedented time.
In responses to this, we decided to launch an EoC commitment initiative, Covid-19 Crisis Consultation to help vulnerable non-profits and small and medium enterprises by offering our advice on possible strategic or tactical ways to pivot in the uncertain environment. We conducted over 55 complimentary consultations with companies from 7 countries across Asia, South America and Europe.
To ensure that we provided them with concrete and actionable solutions, we conducted a pre-consultation survey to assess the current state of the company and the impact covid-19 has had on the company. Through these surveys, we could very quickly see how covid-19 affected different companies in very similar ways, drastically affecting companies’ production ability and cash flows and leaving them cornered in their weak ability to pivot with new solutions.
I remember one particular consultation session that left a lasting memory was with an engineering firm that despite losing revenue 90% of their revenue and not being able to generate revenue because of a halt on-site engineering works, the primary focus of the company was to ensure that they could make sure that their employees could still put food on the table. Hearing the concerns of the business owners made me realise how important these consultation sessions were, that we were reaching out to others to share in their challenges, and to give to them in whatever ways we can, even if it is just our time or advice because we might never know how many lives can be impacted by this giving.
Besides that, the session ended very well with us guiding them towards formulating a business continuity plan through analysis of the impact covid had on their various customer segments. After the session, this company wrote to us to thank us for our time and guidance.
Measuring Impact: Mapping out Theory of Change
Serving in Consulus for over the past 2 years, I have experienced many moments like this where as part of our EoC commitment, we take the opportunity to give our time and expertise to serve social enterprises, non-profits, and even foundations. And many times, these projects affirmed the importance of such actions and were moments of affirmation for us that we are indeed shaping a better economy by design.
Last year, amid COVID-19 as well, we partnered with the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise, raiSE, to partially sponsor 12 social enterprises in their business transformation journey. One particular enterprise that I worked with as part of this projects was Beam & Go, an e-commerce company operating in Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan, that served a very unique target customer group, Filipino Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs).
Getting to know the co-founders was an absolute joy and we could see their passion and determination to serve the needs of these OFWs. This passion and desire to operate a business with a social impact was something that over the years helped them successfully attract partners, investors and many supporters. And so, one of the key objectives of their transformation journey for us was to help them define their social impact through measurable and trackable metrics, something that they had not yet done.
Through developing a deep understanding of their business model and impact model, we worked with them to develop a Theory of Change model, that clearly defines how key business inputs produces outputs that drive specific outcomes and finally help actualise impact.
Through this model, we were able to provide them with a visual representation of the change they want to create in the world – in their case, to increase financial inclusion, security and resilience of OFWs – and to define the components or key levers interacting towards creating a real and tangible change. More importantly, this provided them with a blueprint for tracking, measurement and evaluating their incremental successes, holding them accountable towards the change they want to create and growing the impact they want to make in the world.
Defining this theory of change model, made a huge impact on the co-founder’s perspectives of what they were trying to build as entrepreneurs. At the start of this journey, they saw themselves in the business of transactions, as an e-commerce company, however, through this process, they were able to see themselves as an ecosystem and a lifelong partner to every migrant worker, capable of uplifting the dignity and lives migrant workers, their family and even their future generations. Through this process, they were also able to define new products and services that they could offer that were in strong alignment with their vision to uplift OFWs, initiatives that they had thought about previously but now were clear strategic priorities towards achieving their impact.
This project taught me two important things. First, that if we desire change and desire to create an impact, we need to make the effort to define how we plan on getting there. And second, only by defining our own unique way of making an impact, can we innovate towards growing the impact we actually create.
So I would like to leave you with some questions to think about. What is the impact that you envision creating? What are the outcomes you need to see to know that you are creating an impact? What are the inputs and outputs you need to create this desired outcome? What is your theory of change as an EoC professional or an EoC business?