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French Connections for Local Impact

PULSE was established in 2006, with the mission to support and promote entrepreneurship as a lever for inclusive and sustainable development. Elsa Walwer, Operations Manager at PULSE , highlights the importance of partnerships and the experience that she and her team have had working with Oribi Village.

How did this partnership emerge?

PULSE identified Oribi Village as the ideal partner to expand the work we were doing through Lab’ess and Bidaya in territories we had not yet reached nor had any running partnerships in. South Africa was seen as a hub for entrepreneurship in Africa, and also a country where entrepreneurship is a real lever for economic development. We saw a real opportunity to introduce social and environmental impact through entrepreneurial development.

What has your experience been with Oribi Village?

This has been the first recreation of an incubator by PULSE ; we have noticed the development of its activities for the last three years now and it has been amazing. At the end of 2019, after just one year, Oribi already had legitimacy and visibility within the environmental entrepreneurship ecosystem. Oribi quickly developed its first cohorts and special methodology. The organisation is so agile because it learns and changes, testing everything; understanding the industry, pinning down the needs of beneficiaries and finding the best ways to support them. This has led to an incubator that is highly tailored to each cohort and also easily adjustable.

In the beginning, the support from PULSE to Oribi was largely financial but we also provided a lot of technical support and assisted in the development of the team. Oribi had a novel approach and was hyper-focused in a sector, first sustainable tourism and then the food system, figuring out how the whole sector behaves as a system and how to improve it. By connecting with universities, public actors, and key stakeholders in the sector; entrepreneurs could be connected to the right people and change the system itself. This way of working was of great inspiration to the other organisations under PULSE.

Why is the systemic approach so important?

It is very interesting, as it puts many different stakeholders together; people who, when they meet and are able to work together, can affect real change to the whole system. It’s more than just a “theme” or simply an industry focus, having all these people work together in a different way in the value chain of the system will change that very value chain.

Why is partnership important for social innovation?

We embrace partnership because together we’re stronger and we know more. We have partners in Paris, Morocco, Tunisia, and the Balkan region now. All of them are developing methodologies, a lot of which could be easily transferrable to other countries. Oribi’s approach to partnerships enables collaboration between various actors in the system working together around one issue to bring about systemic change. This allows for greater innovation by entrepreneurs and that is very interesting, think of the possibilities you could have for awareness, activism, and advocacy that could be developed through the projects of these entrepreneurs.

What does the future of this partnership look like?

Well, this is only the beginning. Oribi is young, PULSE is young too and we have the basis for good cooperation and an opportunity to grow together. The idea is for PULSE to go further as an international organisation. The idea is always to have an increasingly collective test force that grows together as each part innovates and shares its knowledge.

We’d like to further take advantage of our international positioning, though it currently isn’t the best time for international mobility, it is a key point to consider. I’d like to see more continuous training for teams to learn more from each other about how each team is solving various issues in their respective region. For entrepreneurs of course this should also be pursued, as a solution in one market could have incredible impact across the world.

What would you say to other organisations looking to partner with Oribi Village?

They have a great team, go! Oribi is fully engaged in reaching its mission with oriented action and energy; because it is impact-driven. This is evident in the way it functions and the integrity of its people. Oribi has an incredible capacity to reach the right partners to implement things contextually; they are not isolated and can connect you to a vast and actionable network.

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