Justin Bedard – founder of The JUMP! Foundation, which is a non-profit social enterprise that uses experiential education to advance a world in which individuals, community leaders, and global citizens realize their passions and potential.
Q1: What do you appreciate yourself in the business mainly for?
Next weekend there is a conference in Nairobi and for me it’s one of our biggest successes. We run a program in an international school in Nairobi and out of that we got to know Tito who wanted to get involved and help facilitating. Tito lives in a very beautiful and dynamic community, but there is a lot of poverty in it. He is trying to grow and develop a non-profit organization, build the trust. He is doing a lot, he is an innovator, a social entrepreneur, he has amazing energy. He started to facilitate with us in his local context, then we flew him to Abu-Dhabi and he was facilitating for us there and now he is not only our facilitator but he is also running Jump Development Conferences. For me this is a successful model, where there are multiple inputs to create impact. Jump and Tito have created so much together, both for Jump values and revenue but also for our development work and there is no clear line between them. Also over the last 10 years we trained hundreds of Jump facilitators which have taken our activities and methodology and improved them, making them better and using them in different kind of organizations so although we had a lot of financial successes as business and a lot of success in our development work, the biggest thing, the long term impact, is to give people tools which they can adapt and use in their local environments.
Q2: What is the biggest challenge for you now?
For the structure as enterprise and the nature of our business I would say our biggest challenge is to balance between global growth and local sustainability. We are fortunate that there is high demand in what we do but then with all those opportunities it’s not easy to say “no, it doesn’t fit within our real cause” or ”Yes, we could do it, but it will not give us as much impact”. So the challenge is saying no and saying no in the right way or maybe saying yes to the right things. People joke we will do everything and anything as it’s the nature of any startup enterprise but we are no longer a startup. And sometimes when we meet with people we say: you know, we work for startups but, we are not one of them. We are no longer a startup, we are 10 years on the road, established, and now we are starting to make those strategic decisions, so that’s a challenge. I think challenge is also holding through to the local capacity building. If we are building a program in Malaysia and we are flying people to this program it’s not necessarily the most sustainable approach, to fly people in, and it will be more sustainable to build the capacity of people in Malaysia to deliver the program. That’s another challenge, to build local capacity so we don’t have to base on this flying facilitator model.
Q3: What advice do you have for yourself in this situation?
I don’t know if we want to develop more. From the organization perspective it’s the strategic decision. We’ve grown over 300% during the last 12 months considering workers, revenues, scale of projects, so… it’s almost the opposite. How do you limit the growth to maintain sustainability. Because too much growth is unsafe and unsustainable. At this time last year we had 11-12 people working in the organization, now we have… 28 on the payroll. The plan now is to grow internally, focus on developing the organization inside and not try to expend to new projects or partners, but grow and innovate existing project and existing partners. And curate the values within those existing work we are doing.
Would you like to add something more?
Everything we do here about social entrepreneurship seems to be very western, as for example the event we had few days ago. There were not so many Thai people, and that’s why I think Saks [Broccoli Revolution] and Gift [M:aD] are very important as one of few who are really local. I think in Asia and Africa and other parts of the world, social entrepreneurship may not have the model that westerns have. There can be a lot of enterprises with high social impact which may not be seen as social enterprises. For example, a factory in Bangladesh which pays its workers decent wages and creates jobs for the community so everyone can go to school and everyone gets health care it may not look like a social enterprise but the way Bangladeshi runs it maybe be very much social focused. And I personally try to make sure that I recognize lenses and bias which I have, that I look at community project and social impact in a very Western context. And then I think also that to be a successful social entrepreneur you need to be connected with people and have empathy. You can be very successful if you remove your ego from the business and concentrate exclusively on collaboration. How can I help other social enterprises grow and extend?
The questions were asked on our behalf by Anna and Andrea from How to (ex) change the world.
Bangkok, Thailand, 11th June 2016