Founders of social enterprises are often those who drive the organizations and shape their culture, ethos, and strategic direction. Like all businesses, however, social enterprises need to plan for the future. How can a social enterprise engage effectively in founder succession planning, and what are some of the benefits that may occur when a founder is able to share the ownership, control, and culture of the business with a successor, or even a wider group of social leaders?
This was one theme of a plenary session at this year’s annual Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP14) in San Francisco—the premier conference on impact investing and social enterprise. Benetech CEO, Jim Fruchterman, and VP of the Benetech Global Literacy Program, Betsy Beaumon, joined moderator Penelope Douglas, SOCAP Board Chair, for a dynamic conversation titled “Make Yourself Invaluable, Not Irreplaceable.”
Fruchterman and Beaumon recounted how they first met at the inaugural SOCAP conference in 2008. At that time, Fruchterman was looking to hire an executive who could run and scale Benetech’s Bookshare initiative, which had just won its first significant award from the U.S. Department of Education. Instead of a COO, he wanted to hire an entrepreneur, with the drive and vision to shape Bookshare’s strategy, build a product line, and ultimately take Benetech’s Global Literacy Program to the next level. Good news for Benetech, Beaumon happened to be considering the switch from for-profit high tech to the tech-for-good space.
Today, Fruchterman is able to focus on being a national and international “ambassador” for the field of education accessibility while Beaumon implements a new vision as the General Manager and Vice President of the Global Literacy Program. This move, Fruchterman and Beaumon say, has been critical for Benetech’s success, impact, and growth in other program areas such as the Human Rights Program, for improving the organization’s process of developing new tech-for-good ventures, and for establishing Benetech Labs.
You can watch the complete video of the conversation with Fruchterman and Beaumon, below.