Scaling Pathways

Why is impact at scale so elusive? Scaling Pathways seeks to equip enterprises to more effectively navigate the journey to scale by capturing tactical insights and hard-won lessons from social enterprises.

Scaling Pathways is a research series sharing tactical advice, guidance, examples, and lessons learned from social enterprises and funders who are navigating the road to scale. The content largely revolves around key topics that social enterprises told us were the largest challenges as they positioned themselves for scale: their people, their finances, their data, and partnerships with government.

In addition to cross-cutting themes, we have produced case studies on a number of social enterprises, looking at their organizational backgrounds, pivots made on their scaling journeys, and what they learned along the way.

Visit the Scaling Pathways website for more

Background: In 2013, the Innovation Investment Alliance, a funding and learning partnership between the Skoll Foundation and U.S. Agency for International Development’s Global Development Lab, with support from Mercy Corps, committed to investing $44.5 million in social enterprises across the globe. Their goal is to create systems-level change by supporting transformative social enterprises in reaching scale and to share findings from that work. In 2016, Mercy Corps, as the Innovation Investment Alliance’s implementing partner, engaged CASE to analyze and share early lessons from the initial scaling grants. What were their scaling strategies and tactics? What were the biggest surprises and pivots? What have we learned from their successes – and failures – along the way?

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Start Here: Pivoting to Impact

Pivoting to Impact: Navigating the Road to Scale What is scaling and why is it so hard? We cut across sectors and geographies to distill lessons for all enterprises and funders seeking impact at scale.

Scaling Pathways Theme Studies

Financing for Scaled Impact Tips and advice to maximize the impact of external funding and effectively leverage internal options to fuel the scaling journey.

Leveraging Government Partnerships Insights and tactics for effectively leveraging government partnerships to scale impact.

People Matter: Evolving Talent to Drive Impact at Scale Tips for evolving organizational structure, leveraging outside capacity, and maintaining culture through scale.

Using Data to Power Scale Tactics for setting a data foundation grounded in equity, the building blocks for a robust system and process, and strategies as you grow, partner, or pursue systems change.

Case Studies

Case Study

VisionSpring VisionSpring launched — and then shuttered — a retail “hub and spoke” model in Latin America. The scaling experiment led to valuable lessons about knowing when to pivot and preparing to fail.

Case Study

Evidence Action After a successful RCT and pilot, Evidence Action’s scaling efforts led to decreasing impact. It took a step back to focus on behavior change, right-sizing data collection, and improving infrastructure.

Case Study

Imazon Recognizing that they could not solve deforestation alone, Imazon scaled its impact through government partnerships and open source data — rather than growing its organization.

Scaling Snapshots

Mini case studies of scaling journeys, including pathways and lessons learned.

Scaling Through Mass Disruption

How do social enterprises and the funders that support them achieve impact at scale even in times of crisis, such as outbreak of war or disease? In the face of the mass disruption caused by COVID-19, we worked with our Scaling Pathways partners on a video series called Scaling Through Mass Disruption, capturing how social enterprises adapt, pivot, manage finances, engage teams, and so much more in times of crisis. The social enterprises interviewed share advice and insights that can prepare organizations for inevitable future crises and disruptions. Visit the Scaling Through Mass Disruption page for more.