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Serve2Gether Consulting Goes Global Helping Social Entrepreneurs

June 3, 2013

Serve2Gether Consulting, the American Express pro bono consulting program, has recently gone global.

Started in 2012 as a U.S.-based initiative, Serve2Gether Consulting offers project-based volunteer consulting by American Express employees to nonprofit organizations in eight practice areas, including:

  • Key Messages and Brand Strategy
  • Digital Marketing Strategy
  • Building Customer Relationships
  • Targeting New Audiences
  • Peer Benchmarking
  • Opportunity Analysis
  • Human Resources Capacity Build
  • Performance Management

In its inaugural year, the program delivered close to $750,000 in consulting services and $125,000 in direct seed funding to the nonprofit organizations participating. In New York, the program engaged 70 American Express employees who volunteered 3,000 hours on behalf of 14 projects with nonprofit organizations. Our nonprofit partner in this U.S.-based program is the Taproot Foundation.

This year, American Express partnered with Ashoka to develop an international program aimed at assisting emerging nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs in the U.S., Argentina, Canada, India and Mexico (this is in addition to the ongoing U.S.-based program mentioned above). Participating employees will use their professional skills to help solve business problems that have been presented by these 15 organizations and entrepreneurs in the areas of marketing, social media communications, management, technology and human resources.

"Regardless of market, business unit or job title, one thing we all share here at American Express is a spirit of service – it's core to who we are as a company," said Ed Gilligan, President of American Express and Executive Sponsor of Serve2Gether Consulting. "With the newly expanded Consulting Challenge, we are able to take our focus on service and combine it with our unique business skills and expertise to help social entrepreneurs make a meaningful impact on communities around the world."

The 15 projects selected for this global effort in Argentina, Mexico, Canada, India and the U.S., include:

  • Providing product strategy to digital start-up Sameboat, whose mission is to harness the collective power of the community to improve public transportation and commuting in Toronto;
  • Helping Habitat for Humanity Argentina develop marketing efforts to generate revenue to fund affordable housing units in the La Boca neighborhood in Buenos Aires;
  • Supporting the development of a staffing strategy for the Kutnab Foundation, an innovative alternative learning program for children living in the slums of New Delhi;
  • Helping improve the acquisition targeting and messaging for Kubo.Financero, an online banking solution for micro-entrepreneurs in Mexico; and
  • Leveraging product/channel development expertise to assist Bould, an innovative social enterprise that is helping build the green building/jobs sector through hands-on training programs in the United States.

At the end of the program in August, American Express consulting teams will be invited to submit proposals for seed grants to help implement the changes they have recommended.

Our partner in this effort is Ashoka, a nonprofit organization that specializes in assisting social entrepreneurs through start-up financing, professional development support services, and connections to a global network across the business and social sectors. Ashoka solicited projects through its Changemakers Network, and then assisted with the selection of the 15 projects included in this inaugural international program.

This effort builds on our ongoing partnership with Ashoka to develop the skills of social entrepreneurs around the globe. Last year, we launched our American Express Emerging Innovators Boot Camp, which brought together a group of 15 outstanding social entrepreneurs from around the world for three days of developmental meetings. In addition to this select group, over 4,000 other changemakers benefited from the program through online learning programs and Twitter chats.

This year, we hosted a similar three-day workshop for social entrepreneurs from the United States in New York. Speakers during the three-day meeting included Josh Silverman, President of U.S. Consumer Services at American Express; entrepreneur, author and speaker Seth Godin; Catherine Rohr, founder of Defy Ventures; and Charles Best, founder of Donors Choose. We are planning similar workshops this summer in Toronto and Mexico City for Canadian and Mexican social entrepreneurs.

The combination of these efforts points to our continuing CSR goal here at American Express of developing the next generation of leaders – both in the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors -- here in the United States and around the world.

If you have a question or comment, please share it here. Or, alternatively, follow me on Twitter at @tmcclimonCSRNow and comment there. Thanks for reading and sharing.


P.S. Did you know that Ashoka is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries?


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