The pandemic has highlighted that change at scale is needed to tackle societal challenges, such as the global health crisis, environmental pollution, climate change, and growing economic inequality. These societal challenges also present a major entrepreneurial opportunity for innovation, job creation and economic development.

Impact scale-ups address these challenges, creating value that enables people and the planet to thrive, now and in the future. And contrary to popular belief, they prove it’s possible to combine social impact and financial sustainability. In fact, our research indicates that dual aims of commercial growth and societal impact lead to improved odds of success.

Our findings show that impact-oriented organizations in the scale-up phase have a 43% higher chance of scaling (growing more than 20% annually in FTE) as opposed to non-impact oriented organizations in the same phase (see Figure 1).

Fig 1. Impact orientation as a success factor for scaling.

In order to be commercially viable, impact scale-ups need to have a strong scalable lockstep model – an offer that generates both economic and social value. But even a great lockstep model is no guarantee for success. Scale-ups are going through a major transformation from an informal team to a well-organized enterprise and from a first product launch to efficient product delivery at scale. So what are the success factors for scaling impact?

In this article we’ve highlighted five critical factors that require special attention:

  • Competitive impact edge
  • Innovating for impact
  • Fostering a tribe
  • (C)lean and fair operations
  • Organizing for patient capital
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