Junxion Strategy in the Exciting Playing Field of Social Venture

Junxion Strategy in the Exciting Playing Field of Social Venture

Canadian consulting firm finds India ripe for social business

From the abundance of opportunities with small to medium business in India to eager interest from extraction companies in West Africa, Michael Rowlands of the recently restructured Canadian consulting firm, Junxion Strategy, sees an exciting playing field before him in the social venture sector.

Rowlands, owner of Octopus Strategies, merged his company with a former and “most respected competitor” Junxion Strategy last month, a move both he and his new partner Peter ter Weeme see as a decided catapult forward in their mutual drive to “move the needle on social responsibility.”

“By developing a stronger service suite, by engaging with bigger, more impactful organizations and by delivering services across a range of different geographies, we think we're setting ourselves up to be a really solid social change leader and exemplar for some other companies,” Rowlands tells Axiom News.

  Michael Rowlands

For starters, Junxion sees tremendous movement in the non-profit and social enterprise space to use the pragmatics of business in a “really socially engaged way.”

The firm has helped develop some powerful case studies on this , and Rowlands says supporting organizations on this front is a top focus for Junxion. 

In many of the constituencies where the firm works, conservative governments are having to cut funding for a number of fiscal management reasons, leaving arts and culture organizations, health non-profits and similar agencies, without the support they're used to.

“Anything we can do to help lift social enterprise as a sector, help increase adoption of those tools and techniques and share best practices is bound to help some of the organizations continue the good work they're doing and hopefully accelerate their impact,” says Rowlands.

The complexity of services now delivered by Junxion to impact social change also includes helping bigger companies model sustainability and what it looks like to successfully run a triple bottom line organization.

“Anything we can do to support high-profile, limelight companies and show off their success is bound to encourage others to adopt sustainability thinking,” says Rowlands.

He notes there are many companies trying to do “really good things” in their communities, often driven by pet projects of senior leaders, but Junxion is interested in a different approach – embedding corporate social sustainability in a way that's mutually beneficial, so it's not just a social do-good exercise, but drives financial returns at the same time.

As an example, Junxion is looking to extraction companies in Africa and how it could help them develop communities that continue to thrive even after the company has pulled out, rather than just create as-needed work camps as is currently the norm.

Rowlands notes while the ideal is that extraction wouldn't happen at all, that's highly unlikely anytime soon, so Junxion's intent is to help ensure the legacy of these companies is as positive as possible.

Junxion is asking would it would look like if these companies started social enterprises in the community and helped seed for-profits and community projects like schools and daycare, as an example, with the goal of leaving behind a legacy of community investment and a strong, thriving social sector.

Rowlands notes the buy-in is huge.

“Most of those mining companies are vilified in the press as extraction companies that are raping and pillaging environments and so on, when realistically there are lots of good people trying to do good things, and they're putting community development people on the ground.

“What we want to do is help them accelerate the work they're doing.”

With offices in Vancouver, Toronto, London, England and Delhi, India, Junxion is working in a number of different geographies, which has the added benefit of being able to cross-pollinate ideas and best practices.

Rowlands says Junxion sees Delhi as a key opportunity for making an impact on global environmental change and advancement.

In India there is an incredible range and diversity of small- to medium-sized businesses that are looking for ways to differentiate themselves, so there's a significant openness to using sustainability to establish new enterprises.

“When you've got some connections, and when you really embrace the local culture and local staff and teams, we think we can have a pretty significant impact pretty quickly, both on the environmental side and on the social side,” says Rowlands, noting he sees India, along with China and Brazil, as the central platforms in the world economy over the next 10-20 years.

Asked about changes in the momentum and depth of engagement in the social venture sector over the years he's been a part of it, Rowlands says the diversity is noteworthy, as is the rapid dissemination of information and insights through social media networks.

-- More to Come

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Michelle Strutzenberger

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