OpenIDEO Thank you for your questions and feedback. Here are some of our thoughts:
- Tell us more about the viability of your idea. What does your funding structure look like? What are areas you want to grow into? Do you have questions or hypotheses you want to test to ensure the financial sustainability of your idea?
Currently, our program is entirely grant funded. Our primarily funder is the Walmart Foundation, but we have been actively pursuing other grant funding in an effort to reduce our reliance on any single funder.
We have been exploring a potential “sponsor a trainee” fundraising campaign targeted at individual donors. It costs roughly $150 to train one person, which we feel is a viable for an individual to fund. We have partnered with the fundraising platform Crowdrise, which enables individuals to leverage their social networks to fundraise on our behalf, and are preparing to pilot such a campaign soon.
Beyond grants and donations, we think that it could be interesting to test a crowdfunded student loan model in which students would only start to pay back their loans once they graduate and secure employment. For instance, if we partnered with an organization like Kiva.org, each student could crowdfund their tuition costs through a $150 loan, and then slowly pay it back once they get a job. Samasource Training could also potentially partner with a foundation to guarantee the loans, so in the event that a trainee doesn’t find work after graduation, the loan would be repaid by the foundation.
- What does your network of external partners look like? Have you mapped this out? Have you considered other partners as potential employers? What are potential barriers or needs for these users?
Our external partners fall into three groups: (i) funders, (ii) community partners, and (iii) employer partners. Currently, we have a strong set of community partners, and are focused on expanding our funders and employer partners. Once we have secured more funding, and have increased employer demand for our trainees, we will be in a position to further scale our community partners.
In terms of the needs of our employer partners, we actively reach out to them once our graduates start working in order to understand our trainees performance and strengthen our curriculum.
- What are your needs and what does success look like to you for working with the Amplify team? What existing resources and partnerships can you build off of Samasource?
Our hope is that working with Amplify will enable us to build the funding and employer partnerships that we need to scale. Our goal is to train 2,000 people in 2017, and begin to scale more aggressively in the following years.
In terms of existing resources built off Samasource, in 2017 we will begin hosting classes directly in the Samasource Center. We are also exploring additional cost-sharing possibilities across the two organizations, and funding possibilities with previous Samasource funders.
- To what extent is this primarily funding private organizations? Is the success of your idea dependent on the growth of the organization and then the number of people it can employ? For example, if this model was less attached to a particular organization would it be easier to scale-up?
This is an excellent question, and precisely the reason we are so focused on building additional employer partnerships. While Samasource is the currently the primary employer of Samasource Training graduates, we specifically designed Samasource Training as a separate program (instead of as the “training arm of Samasource”) so that it would be able to scale and train far more people that Samasource could ever hope to employ itself. We are not content to simply train for Samasource, our goal is to equip trainees with the skills they need to succeed in a broad range of formal jobs -- whether in the private, nonprofit, or public sector.
In terms of the ease of scale, the main bottlenecks are currently funding and employer partners. Additional funding will enable us to hire more trainers and establish more community partnerships in order to reach more trainees. Additional employer partners will ensure that these trainees are able to immediately transition to full-time employment.