January 4, 2021
Member Spotlight: Social Value International

From its global newsletter to its major annual events, ANDE members have access to a multitude of platforms for promoting their work and co-creating knowledge with other members. The ANDE Member Spotlight is a series of short, interview-based blog posts highlighting an ANDE member organization and any new projects, recent investments, or ongoing research with interesting learnings that add value to the ANDE community.

Social Value International (SVI) is a global network focused on social impact and social value. ANDE spoke with Dr. Adam Richards to learn more about SVI’s new partnership with Belgian non-profit Efiko Academy to provide online self-directed access to high quality impact management training.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity purposes.

Tell us about Social Value International and the role you play in the SGB ecosystem.

Social Value International is made up of about 25 international networks, and we now have members across 45 countries. SVI is an international collaboration of networks that share a real passion around the seven principles of social value. We want to change the way the world accounts for value. This means increasing people’s wellbeing, reducing inequalities, environmental harm and destruction through decision making. How do we change how we make decisions, or change how decision makers make decisions? SVI argues that it is by considering the financial, social, and environmental effects. This way, money isn’t the only thing that drives decision making.

Although SVI is a small team, we have a large global footprint because of the strength of our membership — similar to ANDE. We work with organizations such as ANDE, the UNDP and OECD, and we’re part of initiatives such as the The Impact Management Project trying to influence how impact investors think about their decision making. We work with all types of organizations to try and shift how decisions are made because we have to take into account the effects our decisions have on people and the planet. We are at a tipping point where impact management and social value are ideas whose time has come. I keep asking myself and others, “if not now, when?” — when are we going to do things differently? We have just over nine years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and we are way off. So, if not now, when? What that means for SVI is doing things differently. Doing things far more democratically, shifting power, and empowering people to influence the decisions that affect their lives. I believe we are at a tipping point because there are all these forces coming together.

Academia has become far more interested in social value, and impact investing is really ramping up. We are also seeing corporates shift their thinking. The business of business is no longer business — it’s profit and purpose, it’s the stakeholder rather than the shareholder models. If we are to improve people’s lives and reduce all of the negative environmental effects that are going on right now, we need to ramp up our efforts. Inequality affects everybody For instance, even if you compare wealthy people in a more equal society to those in an unequal society, those in a more equal society will live longer, on average.

At SVI, we are bold, and we are going to be bolder. My role, as the newly appointed Director of Impact, is to support networks to become more self-sustaining, by delivering quality training, assurance, and accreditation. SVI’s role is to be a global standard setter. Everyone is talking about impact and social value, and we help to set the standards in collaboration with others.

How is SVI helping to set standards at the global level?

We recently entered into a new strategic partnership with a nonprofit based in Belgium, Efiko AcademyEfiko is Esperanto for “impact.” Esperanto is the universal language, and the idea behind Efiko is that if the practice of social impact is for everybody, then we should use language that’s for everybody.

Efiko Academy is an online platform that will have a range of different training services. The first is the one developed in partnership with SVI, called “Social Impact Management: Applying the Principles of Social Value.” The course is a series of self-directed and self-paced sessions, so people can access it from anywhere at any time to really help them become a social impact leader. Efiko Academy wants to make training much more accessible to people, so that the trainer and trainees don’t have to travel.

That sounds like an interesting course! What makes it unique?

The course is all about being highly interactive and personalized. Participants can tune in from anywhere and at any time — we wanted to cater to people’s individual learning styles. The course is made up of short videos from me as the lead trainer, and experts around the world. We have also incorporated case studies and over 100 activities so participants can customize their learnings based on their interests and goals. We’re trying to talk directly to all the actors across different sectors— impact investors, social entrepreneurs, NGOs, small and growing businesses, consultants, corporates — so the course offers specific case study examples from different fields to personalize the experience. For example, if you’re taking the course as a social enterprise, you can watch expert contributions and read case studies from social enterprises around the world, while an impact investor may pursue a different route. By allowing this customization, participants can test their knowledge and apply their understanding in a really practical way.

I also want to highlight Efiko’s growing community. The platform really allows and encourages participants to ask questions and learn from one another, as well as engage with a series of live interactions and events. I’m always saying that we are on a journey — impact management social value ideas are rapidly maturing, but nobody is at the end of the journey. There is a lot of benefit from having people at different stages of their journey. The course, and Efiko platform, is just a great space where people can come together to learn and challenge one another.

Since the training launched fairly recently, how do you see it evolving in the future?

We launched the training at our international conference this past fall. We see our partnership with Efiko as a long-term one, which will be just one of many. Efiko will have a number of different programs on their platform, so they’ll work with other standard setters to develop these programs, not just around the social value principles but all of the skills or capabilities that are required for people to maximize social impact.

While I’m the lead trainer and we co-created the content, this is a collaborative practice. A huge part of collaboration is highlighting the diversity we have within the social impact space. We have to be able to learn from all the great practices happening in different parts of the world, but we’re not hearing those voices. And Efiko showcases these voices fantastically well. Through this platform I believe we can harness the learnings from collective actions across our sector and share it with others. Going back to the journey metaphor, none of us are at the end. I’ve been doing this a while now, but there’s still so much to learn and that’s what’s really exciting about Efiko’s platform — I’m forever learning from people on there as well.

This sounds like a great co-learning opportunity. How can ANDE members get engaged?

We are always looking for people who have experience applying impact management ideas and social value principles. If anyone wants to be involved in the course, please do reach out to Efiko or myself. We would be really happy to discuss people becoming expert contributors, or if they have case studies they want to share as well. I envision that we will keep adding fresh content to the course and keep it really grounded in practice.

I would also encourage members to take the course because — if not now, when? Also, given the relationship between SVI and ANDE, ANDE members can get a 10% discount on the course by contacting Anna Santiago.

Lastly, I genuinely believe that the way we can maximize our impact and effectively make change is through partnerships between the likes of SVI and Efiko, or SVI and ANDE. We are not yet doing enough, so we do need to do things differently. Impact management is a crucial part of that goal, as it will help us achieve our impact goals to meet the SDGs. As a movement, impact management’s time has come.