HR solutions for BOP enterprises

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The Acumen Fund East Africa office recently hosted a breakfast meeting for all its investees. The motive of the breakfast was to provide Acumen’s investee organizations a platform to exchange ideas and explore avenues for collaboration. As an Acumen fellow I got a front row seat to see these brilliant entrepreneurs discuss issues and come up with solutions. The highlight for me was Ingrid Munro’s (Founder and Managing Trustee of Jamii Bora) response to the HR issues raised by some of the other investees, mainly around finding people (at all levels of an organization) willing to work for a social enterprise?

Ingrid suggested a tough but tested solution. She asked all the investees to search for future employees right at the BOP, amongst the poorest of the poor, a demographic that is often overlooked due to job descriptions that come with required skill sets and expected educational qualifications. She gave examples of how some of the poorest of her customers joined Jamii Bora on small jobs and then went on to lead some of the major departments (IT, finance etc) within the organization. Her examples clearly illustrated her contention that employees from the BOP are not only capable of doing small jobs but with the appropriate training & mentoring, they can also grow to take up senior management positions.

Ingrid’s strong belief in the innate ability of people living at the BOP is based on a simple truth – “The poor have to learn to survive and hence they just cannot afford to be dumb.” Ingrid opined that this survivor mentality combined with the hunger for opportunity to improve their lives makes people at the BOP bright prospective employees.



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