Is it possible to be an entrepreneur AND work for a large organization? Intrapreneurship, defined as entrepreneurial behavior within an established bureaucratic organization, is offering new graduates, young professionals and those working in the international development field a new way to drive innovation and increase social returns on investment in their work. The importance of the “start-up” mentality for aide since the recent global financial uncertainty has ignited a rapid growth in social entrepreneurship. Now large institutions such as the United Nations, World Bank and academia are hiring former entrepreneurs or those suited to become intrapreneurs.
I became an intrapreneur in early 2010. After taking a public bus ride from Kampala Uganda to Cape Town, South Africa I attempted to launch a network that would screen live World Cup games on inflatable screens and deliver educational content before, between and after matches. The process of starting up the program and getting the brand visible was incredibly difficult. Even when someone liked the concept, they questioned if we had the capacity to carry out the logistics and security of bringing hundreds of people together in rural villages without electricity.
Fatefully, I connected with a team within UNICEF New York Headquarters called the Youth Section. The Youth Section (now the Social and Civic Media Section) was filled with creative and innovative risk takers who were pushing the envelope in social media and digital engagement within the organization. The Youth Section picked up the World Cup idea and with their support and vision a version of the concept called World Cup in My Village was able to reach thousands of young people in Rwanda and Zambia
Without the UNICEF network of offices providing financial resources, security, and technical support, the project would have never been realized. Since the completion of the project, I’ve been working with the UNICEF Social and Civic Media section team to form innovative technical partnerships and helped start-up a growing youth led digital mapping initiative.
Intrapreneurship is a perfect option for international development professionals and those aspiring to work in the field who feel the need to unleash their creative talents and satisfy their urge to create something new, but without risking everything as an entrepreneur. Intrapreneurship is also becoming more and more valuable for companies who are looking for people that take initiative to drive innovation and add to the company’s competitive edge. Accordingly, intrapreneurs are now some of the most valuable and sought after employees to an international development organization.
New and emerging technology is giving millennials, social entrepreneurs and bureaucrats the opportunity to become invaluable intrapreneurs and generate new and sustaining value for their companies. The intrapreneurs borrow from the principles of entrepreneurship and adapt these principles to fit within their organization. A limited group will have the opportunity to be a part of the first ever Tech Change Summer Mini Course which will teach the essentials for intrapreneurship and discuss about the latest strategies for becoming and working with intrapreneurs . Guest speakers will range from academic experts to practicing intrapreneurs from UNICEF and the World Bank.
To learn more about the power of intrapreneurship and to unlock your intrapreneurial potential, apply now to our Social Intrapreneurship: Innovation Within Institutions online course with Ashoka Changemakers. The course runs February 24 – March 21, 2014.