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On June 13th, 2024, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (DRK) welcomed 50+ entrepreneurs and partners from its European network in The Hague (the Netherlands) for an advanced masterclass on scaling and a working session on structuring high-value non-financial support to social enterprises. 

DRK finds, funds, and supports exceptional leaders with innovative and highly impactful ideas that have the potential to scale. DRK focuses on supporting exceptional entrepreneurs, who are eradicating some of the most intangible problems for vulnerable communities globally. DRK provides social entrepreneurs with the two things they need most: unrestricted capital and three years of intensive, hands-on operational support by joining the board of directors and partnering with the leader to help build capacity in the organisation and scale its impact.

Currently, 25 organisations in DRK’s portfolio are operating in Europe solving social issues across the street and across the globe. The vast majority of these organisations came together in person for DRK’s advanced masterclass.

“We are thrilled to convene 50 European partners and entrepreneurs to share examples of DRK’s global portfolio organisations who have innovative solutions and are now serving millions of people in the United States, Africa, India, and Europe,” shares Lisa Jordan, Senior Managing Director and Europe Director at DRK.

From scaling impact to impact at scale

DRK’s event started with an advanced masterclass on scaling. “Early stage social enterprises with the potential to make real impact in their fields fail at an alarming rate and very few crack the code to scale,” Jordan shared. “Embedding the design for scale early as well as building robust organisational capacity is essential to ensuring social and environmental innovations scale. Preventing premature ‘mortality’ amongst early stage enterprises requires targeted expertise and high engagement to enable the enterprises to excel.” 

During the masterclass, Jim Bildner, CEO of DRK, and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and Senior Research Fellow at the Hauser Institute for Civil Society and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University, imparted the three key challenges that every entrepreneur faces in their journey to scale a solution: defining the problem with great clarity, sequencing the solution, and embedding solutions by repurposing existing infrastructural and distribution channels in systems. Bildner was joined by four entrepreneurs from DRK’s global portfolio who exemplified the recipe for scaling: Wairimu Nyandia (COO of Food for Education), Wole Coaxum (Founder and CEO of MoCaFi), Jürgen Griesbeck (Co-founder and CEO of Common Goal) and Ari Johnson (Co-founder and CEO of Muso). All four entrepreneurs emphasised the value of parting ways with conventional methods of solving issues in order to reach those most vulnerable globally.

The advanced masterclass was kindly hosted by one of DRK’s long-term partners, ImpactCity, in The Hague. Recognized throughout Europe as a city for entrepreneurs who want to build a better world, The Hague residents, businesses, and government are working together on a better future and providing solutions that combat poverty, inequality, and injustice. 




Cracking the code to scale through targeted non-financial support

The day continued with a working session on non-financial support, moderated by Lisa Jordan. Jordan noted, “DRK provides social entrepreneurs with the two things they need most in the earlier stages of their enterprise development: unrestricted catalytic capital and hands-on, intensive support provided through three years of board service. Our board service is 100% of the reason why DRK entrepreneurs crack the code to scale.” DRK has been honing its non-financial support through board service for 22 years across high-impact themes. 


Four entrepreneurs from DRK’s European portfolio – Renée Frissen (Founder and Co-Director of OpenEmbassy), Jolanda van Gerwe (Director of Join Us), Bram van den Bosch (CEO of Emata), and Ben Metz (Executive Director of TCLP) shared their experiences with non-financial support from DRK. They highlighted the consistency of DRK’s support, solving problems in real-time with DRK guidance, and the personal touch that comes with having an expert join the board of directors of their organisation. 



“What has worked for us partnering with DRK is the personal connection that has formed over the past few years,” says Renée Frissen from OpenEmbassy. Frissen continues “She [Lisa Jordan] knows what to say and when to say it, making it possible for us to bridge gaps in our scaling strategy at the most crucial times”. 

Bram van den Bosch from Emata comments “DRK truly sets the standards for non-financial support and they are our voice in rooms where we are not present. Their unique intensive, hands-on approach focuses on building organisational capacity. The vast number of tools available to portfolio organisations has been super useful to us as we grow.”

The working session concluded a day full of learning and sharing experiences, which transcended in meaningful conversations about scaling impact, mitigating risks and positive global change. This event allowed the entrepreneurs from DRK’s portfolio and partners in Europe to make new connections with like-minded and ambitious individuals striving towards making a difference in the lives of those most vulnerable.