However, since the field is scattered and nascent, finding work in social enterprise is almost never a clear path from submitting an application to getting that interview and landing a job. The leap can be a daunting journey.
“If you decide tomorrow that you want to quit your corporate job and go work for a water organization in Africa, what you would likely do is go on a job platform and look for jobs in that space. Or you might go to Google to search. That might work, but the problem with that is you have no understanding of the credibility of the organization,” said Shweta Sharma, CEO and co-founder of Karmany.org, an India-based startup that connects social enterprises with talented job candidates.
Sharma was herself one of those who leapt into the world of social enterprise after seven years working at AT&T. She embarked on a new direction after dabbing into the startup space in Chicago and working on an education nonprofit in India while still maintaining her day job. These experiences eventually led her to build Karmany.org, after noticing that finding the right talent was an obstacle for social enterprises.
The business model for Karmany.org pivoted over 30 times. Sharma originally assumed that the reason social enterprises couldn’t attract talent was because they didn’t have the money to bring them on. The idea was to provide low-cost loans to grassroots-level entrepreneurs.
When she thought the model was robust enough, she quit her day job and moved to India. There she found out that money wasn’t the issue. “It was actually more of an issue of awareness of the sector and also a filtering for relevance of people that are interested in the sector,” said Sharma.
Funding always came up in her conversations with social entrepreneurs, especially at the grassroots level, but it came up secondarily to talent. As a matter of fact, social enterprises with sound business models ready to hire tend to have one thing in common – funding from accredited investors.
Social entrepreneurs would say, “Listen, I’m willing to pay the money if you can get the right people. How can you help us?”
Turns out, they are very willing, contrary to an earlier belief that the sector pays low salaries. “We ended up finding that these salaries are actually really high. They were paying market if not higher,” said Sharma.
Launched in March, Karmany.org is a job search website for those interested in social enterprise jobs, particularly in India. Employers include Drishtee, Hippocampus, and Simpa Networks. The company would run a credibility check on new organizations that want to post jobs, meaning they seek for-profits that are funded by an accredited investor over the last three years.
The jobs currently posted on the website are aimed at those with graduate degrees and have three to ten years of work experience. To find the perfect fit, Karmany.org uses an algorithm to score potential candidates based on their functional fit – such as their technical skills and certifications, social fit – such as interests and motivation, and an x-factor – what sets them apart. Once candidates fill out their profile, they can place bids for jobs to express interest in a position.
Applicants can create a profile on the ReWork website. ReWork would try to match an organization’s job posting to the profile of the candidate. Qualified candidates would then be contacted through email with job opportunities and can choose to apply for those positions. ReWork screens the application and if there is a good fit, the interview process kicks off.
Give to Get Jobs is a job search platform founded in 2011 by a mother-daughter team with a focus on US-based social enterprises. Whereas Idealist provides a database of over 10,000 jobs mainly in the volunteer and nonprofit sectors in the US, but there are worldwide opportunities as well.
While they are not job search platforms, NextBillion and the Skoll World Forum frequently update their job boards with occasional opportunities from social enterprises. For something a little less organized but with relevant and updated job postings, members of the Social Enterprise Jobs Google Group post announcements for jobs in social innovation and social enterprise.
Over the last two years, there have been a burst of job opportunities in the social enterprise sector. But since the field is still developing, job seekers should expect to forfeit benefits and perks that they would get from larger organizations.
Yet Sharma says that social enterprises are appealing in their social mission, desire to become sustainable, and innovative abilities. “In terms of innovation, I don’t think any engineer or business development person could go to a better place than a social enterprise.”
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