Revolutionizing Economic Development: Introducing the Concept of Social Career alongside a Business Career
By Sagi Shahar and Arik Fuss, Founders of Nachshons
The trajectory of our careers as business professionals has always included an active level of social involvement. Our experience navigating the waters of the Israeli startup ecosystem and the social sphere has led us to identify the following three major challenges as the main barriers that block the way of economic development in the Israeli social sphere. The three are:
- Extreme inequality in resource distribution
- Process-dependent distribution of resources that are offered by government and business corporations make access to these resources difficult, and in some cases even impossible to those who need them most.
- ’Transparency’ of the actual need – many nonprofits and small businesses in national priority areas are so far off the grid that their needs are not visible by whomever would like to help them.
To address these needs, we began searching for a path that would simultaneously be solution-oriented, sustainable and value-generating for everyone involved. This search led us to develop a new approach to the question of economic development: Developing a Social Career alongside a Business Career. This new concept is an innovative way to engage the most talented people in the Israeli startup ecosystem, and the business community as a whole, in the economic growth of nonprofit organizations and small businesses in national priority areas.
Here is an example of what we mean by a ’transparent’ small business with a need for resources, and what we did to address it:
Amany Alzynati, a 26-year-old business owner from the city of Lod, ran a very small Nail Salon from her home. The sole breadwinner in her family, she was facing the challenge of growing her business into a fully-fledged beauty salon to keep food on her family’s table. As a resident of Lod, a national priority town of 72,000 people that ranks 4 out of 10 on the Israeli socio-economic index, she had practically no access to resources that could help her grow her business. She did not even have a bank account registered to her name.
In order to help Amany grow her business in a way that would be sustainable, a team of 6 top-tier young business professionals was tasked with assessing the issues she faced, and with helping her achieve her goals. This ‘Dream Team’ worked with Amany for 3 months as her business development team, clocking in more than 250 hours to create a tailor-made growth plan that included a customer survey, benchmark analysis, financial model building, and even her very own logo.
6 months after the project ended, Amany’s business moved into a brick-and-mortar retail location, she hired 2 employees, and increased her revenues by 40%. A real success story by every standard.
Amany in her a new Beauty Salon in the Center of Lod
Now, when we help one business like Amany’s thrive, we have the ability to impact one family. When we help five businesses thrive, the magic of scalability appears. When we help 50 such businesses thrive in one city, it becomes a game changer for the entire city.
In any standard economic development process, this kind of business development process would cost an arm and a leg. In reality, the process was virtually costless.
So, the big question is, how do we persuade the best members of the business community to invest so much of their time (6 hours per week on average) in our platform?
The answer, like it most often is in economics, is ‘incentives’.
For young professionals, the incentive lies in the opportunity to build an actual Social Career alongside one’s business career. A Social Career allows young professionals to boost their business career while doing significant, impactful work and contributing to the economic growth of those who really need it.
The social sphere, as we came to realize along the way, holds infinite potential for young professionals in the form of real world challenges. These untapped challenges allow them to tackle actual business problems, learn and practice new skills, and grow their professional network. It’s probably the best “training program” there is.
The way we know it today, a ‘career’ is a linear concept that includes only what one can write in the ‘experience’ section of a traditional CV. That means business experience only. Any and all knowledge gained outside the confines of the well-defined monolithic world of a traditional CV is relegated to the ‘volunteering’ section, and thus marginalized in value to both the person presenting the CV and to their prospective employer. Social contributions are of course not considered a part of one’s actual ‘career’.
This is how we envision the CV of the future:
The idea of a ‘career’ being non-monolithic facilitates the creation of the kind of value we all look for when we talk about growth. When ‘career’ comprises a variety of skills and experiences, a new definition of how these skills and experiences interact is called for, so that the value they create can be fully realized and made available for the good of both business and social communities.
When the social segment of a CV occupies a separate column alongside the business segment on the same piece of paper, it re-defines the path of two very familiar terms in the world of employment, bringing them together in a way that is disruptive to the standard world of ‘career’ vs. ‘volunteering’.
This juxtaposition of the two most rudimentary building blocks of personal development next to one another results in a kind of creative friction that can move mountains.
Developing a Social career alongside a Business career is what drives this creative friction and leads to the disruptive change we all need to see in the world of economic development.