Backing Entrepreneurs & Social Enterprises in Poverty – Scott Duncan

Meet Scott Duncan. Founding Member of YGAP, a not-for-profit organisation that finds and backs impact entrepreneurs helping some of the world’s toughest communities. This is his entrepreneurial story.

Where did you get the idea for your business?

Whilst travelling and volunteering in India, we were exposed to the living standards of the poor and lack of access to basic human rights, such as an education and clean drinking water. This had a huge effect on our decision making around career direction, and I knew whatever was next would contribute towards improving the lives of those in need.

How did you get your business started?

With the collective energy of an amazing group of friends, who selflessly volunteered their time to make a difference, we found two projects in Africa to partner with and then needed to raise funds. We chose a name, started a bank account and began by throwing ‘parties for purpose’ and developing collateral to engage donors.

What lessons have you learned so far on your business journey?

  • In every organisation, it comes down to the people you work with: choose them wisely and develop deep, authentic relationships beyond just being co-workers.
  • Fail forward: not every initiative or project will work. Embrace failing as doing research, and take time to reflect upon why something went wrong in order to learn for whatever is next.
  • Focus on self-awareness: it is vital to grow as an individual as well as an organisation. Ensure you factor in time to work on personal development, goals, meditation and having fun for yourself and your employees.

How important for you has it been to have a mentor?

Vital! Receiving wisdom from elders provides an avenue to learn from those who have walked the path before us. A great deal of YGAP’s success is due to the love and support of many mentors who have contributed in numerous ways. Always keep in mind that we can learn and receive knowledge from many people and places: children, animals and nature etc.

What are your top three tips for starting a business?

  1. Make sure it aligns with your personal why and values.
  2. Plan ahead: develop an exit strategy.
  3. Enjoy the ride: if you’re going to be your own boss and spend the majority of your waking hours focused on your business, be sure that it inspires you each and every day.

What is your current project?

I’m currently working on an exciting new project called FOLO (For Love). FOLO is a simple and powerful tool that enables you to generate free donations for the cause of your choice when you shop online. It’s a ‘profit-for-purpose’ business that builds infrastructure to help to create recurring revenue streams for not-for-profit organisations. Check it out and raise money for your favourite charity at no cost!

Scott Duncan is a graduate of the RMIT Diploma of Business, Frontline Management (2008).

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