BFP: What do you do?
NC:I currently work for the BoP Innovation Center which provides an incubator space where private parties can develop their business strategies towards BoP markets in a multi-stakeholder environment. The center’s involvement in numerous BoP business development strategies enables us to capture, process and share learnings about market-based sustainable innovations. Ultimately, learning by doing allows us to accelerate the impact and scale of these innovations.
As a programme manager at the BoP Innovation center, I manage a portfolio of inclusive innovations in the water, energy and food sectors. It implies initiating, building and nurturing partnerships with industrial partners, international organizations, public authorities, NGOs, private foundations, and social entrepreneurs. This function has diverse components like partnership building, business opportunity identification, implementation business strategies and securing adequate investment finance.
BFP: What is the best part about your job?
NC: Seeing every day the impact of these innovations and believing strongly that it features the future of our societies. Aiming at developing innovations with social impact and reaching financial sustainability at the same time give you this incredible force of doing good while being efficient and long lasting.
BFP: What have been your greatest challenges?
NC: One surely is the integration of diverse and apparently conflicting ideas (long term impact with short term financial return) and combining different organization DNAs (multinational companies with social entrepreneurs) to create impactful trajectories that deliver services and products for and with low-income groups. Dealing adequately with diversity is a key to success at the BoP but to handle this heterogeneity is also a significant challenge.
BFP: How have you overcome these challenges?/ What advice, would you give to others?
NC: It is interesting to reflect on this for me. Initially, I was trained as a telecommunication engineer and then as a researcher, later on I received executive education on social entrepreneurship. Right now I manage innovation projects at the intersection of business, innovation and development in the food, energy and water sectors so quite far from my original qualification. Along the way I have worked for a multinational corporation, a leading governmental laboratory, a knowledge institute and an NGO. These diverse experiences both in developed and developing economies allow me to do what I do today by having the necessary level of understanding or empathy of different viewpoints.
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do, where should they start?
NC: Firstly, be passionate. This is the one attribute that makes you go the extra mile. Secondly, picture the end and stay focused. I have always wanted to combine in my work business/innovation and development to reach impact. By being focused on this goal, I was able to make unusual career choices that do make sense ultimately.
BFP: Finally; what do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
NC: The BFP community is a central point of knowledge and exchange for the work I do. At the BoP, due to major institutional or market constrains, one cannot innovate alone so I am constantly in search of new partners. Furthermore, we are still at the early stage of bringing this BoP/Inclusive business industry to maturity and to exchange on best practices is essential for me.
Thank you to Nicolas Chevrollier for taking the time to do this interview.
Read previous Member of the Week interviews here.