The social vision you have for your social enterprise may turn your focus to international territories. Perhaps, the community that you are intending to help is based internationally and so from the outset your organisation will need to be operational in more than one market. This can present certain challenges in the same way that it does for commercial organisations trying to enter new markets. How do you deliver your social vision?
 
1. Online
If you are a social enterprise with a retail based business model you potentially have a major head-start particularly if you are selling your products online. Consider an enterprise that creates ethically produced clothing or bags. Your website with ecommerce functionality can be your introduction to international markets. Review your Google Analytics reports to track the visitors from international countries and assess where you have the most interest.  You may already be selling to international markets – this could provide a basis for you to deliver your social vision internationally.
 
2. Fools rush in
You will need to do your due diligence before you either operate or attempt to deliver social impact in an international market. Is there a market for your products or services? Are there already local organisations focused on the same area? If you are physically intending to have a presence in the new country what are the legal and logistical challenges that need to be overcome?
 
3. Local Market testing
Eric Ries’, concept of the minimum viable product of (MVP) articulated in his The Lean Startup applies to social startups and enterprises too. You will need to ensure that there is a market for your product or services in this new territory. Many commercial and social organisations historically have assumed that because their products sell in their home market they will automatically sell internationally. Do not make this mistake – test the new market and be aware of cultural differences.
 
4. Local partners / local agents
It may be that the most effective way to enter an international market will be via local agents or partners. Local market expertise is what they will bring to the table. They can help you trade locally and also deliver social impact. It’s important that you take time to find the right local partners because they will be your representatives in that country and will effectively create your reputation in that country.
 
5.  Recruiting local staff
Once you have committed to entering a new international market you should set yourself the task of recruiting a great local team. They will help you navigate potential pitfalls and highlight any adjustments that need to be made. Just as in your home market your staff will be crucial to your success.
 
 6. Currency transfers
There are commercial businesses who create healthy profits solely off their ability to trade international currencies. Any social enterprise entering a new international market will need to take steps to mitigate their risk by setting up processes to protect themselves. Your local partners will be able to help you but you should also seek from official sources such as UKTI.
Signing up here will also give you some additional support.
 
 7. Logistics 
Where do you produce your products?  Will you be exporting them to the new territory? It will take longer and items could be held up at customs. There are lots of new considerations that you will need to assess. These could impact on your cash-flow and ability to generate the profit needed to deliver your social vision.
 
We hope you have found this information useful. If you have any questions relating to this post feel free to give us a call on +44 (0)207 148 6720
Follow us on twitter @hubwestminster to keep up to date with our Impact community.
 
Best wishes
 
Impact Hub Westminster Team