The Challenges Group
“A track record for getting it right.” – Care International
The Challenges Group is a collection of service and software social businesses, which offer consulting, trade linkage assistance, investment support, e-learning, cloud project management and business performance tracking.
Challenges Worldwide is an educational charity, which delivers business support and conducts market research through volunteering.
The Challenges Group and Challenges Worldwide regularly work closely together, enabling each other to deliver more for beneficiaries.
The Challenges Group
The Challenges Group is a collection of award winning international social enterprises and a charity, headquartered in Scotland.
It exists to unlock the potential of markets, making them more inclusive and efficient. Since starting operations in 1999 the Challenges Group has built up a stable of services which we deliver directly and through partners.
Over the last 16 years we have provided £30 million onsite business support to around 2,000 growth businesses in 40 countries. These businesses have raised over £20 million investment and generated over £30m in trade linkages. Many hundreds of jobs have been created. Many families dependent on these inclusive businesses in vulnerable market systems have seen long term sustainable outcomes.
We are currently focused on a specific portfolio of 600 growth businesses in Zambia, Uganda and Ghana, driven by our women’s economic empowerment goal and youth development delivery mechanism.
We would like to engage with trade partners (import or export), investors, women and young people around these new opportunities because we know that together we can drive economic growth.
College is a social learning and project delivery platform. Some account holders are either managing or about to start managing a social enterprise. Others are part of Challenges local, social enterprise consultant capacity building training programme. Together they form the Challenges learning community. Individual learners can use their account to access:
• 900 tools and learning guides • A range of Chartered Management Institute vocational qualifications • Remote and in person tutors • Mentors and consultants • Participation in subject or enterprise specific social learning groups.
Results are unambiguously successful. Young people, previously excluded from employment, are now making a living supporting the sustainable growth of hundreds of social enterprises a year.
Challenges Marketplace (CM) is the consolidation of 17 years work with thousands of businesses in 40 countries around the world. It enables the operational, financial and impact performance of a social enterprise to be tracked and analyzed over time. This is set against its own plans and targets as well as regional, sector and global benchmarks.
Enterprises only enter CM once they have been through the 3 month Challenges Worldwide on-boarding process. Challenges local staff then verify the data each enterprise inserts into CM on a quarterly basis. This trusted platform of ‘real time’ data enables CM to connect trade and investment as well as ongoing incubation, acceleration and growth services to each enterprise in the system.
This process means that the cost, time and efficiency savings achieved by CM are tracked and thus offer all partners transparent, real time reporting in a shared cloud environment. CM partners with relevant stakeholders at a local, regional and international level.
The true innovation, and therefore drive, behind Marketplace is that it individualizes actionable partner portfolio views for organizations interested in facilitating and enabling the social enterprise environment. So stakeholders giving grants, running business plan competitions, delivering training, offering debt, angel investing or even selling accounting services will see Marketplace reports that are tailored to their needs.
This approach saves time, cost and hassle as it allows organizations truly wishing to progress access to finance and markets to enterprises in emerging economies to connect in a meaningful way. In short, CM reports lower risk and showcase opportunity – allowing investors to support more social enterprises for the same investment.
Consulting brings service and multinational trade partners into Marketplace to engage with portfolios of companies within sector or country specific supply chains. These relationships are managed wth the help of our digitial environment; saving time, cost and hassle.
People: Service and Trade Partners.
Process: Service companies led by locals are put in place, with localised volunteer ‘graduates’ serving as staff support. These entities are fed by experienced consultants, able to deliver focussed interventions in order to find companes that can successful deliver within local, national and global supply chains.
Capital brings money and business together. Finance partners are able to engage with portfolios of businesses and are incentivised by clear SME reporting and business structures.
People: Foundations, Philanthropists, Donor Agencies, Finance Houses, Development Funders
Process: By creating portfolio tracking through Marketplace, organisations can follow hundreds of investment ready companies at the same time. Capital empowers decision makers and then delivers the necessary business and legal documents to build upon its track record of successful delivery at scale.