Let’s face it: corporate governance isn’t exactly a topic that gets most people’s pulses racing, especially if those people are the founders or executives of innovative social enterprises working on the next big disruptions. Given the recent high-profile corporate governance debacles at social impact-oriented companies like WeWork, however, it’s clear what can happen if board leadership practices are not honed and refined from an early stage.
While the explosive growth of innovative, early-stage startups serving underserved consumers in the developing world – along with advances in data science and artificial intelligence – holds tremendous promise, founders don’t exactly time to pore over the corporate governance strategies they will need for success.
But executive leadership is crucial for helping these firms go from an idea, to proof of concept, to a tangible, lasting benefits underserved customers. By having a dedicated board of directors that has the right experience, network, expectations and is fit for purpose overall, these growth-stage companies not only can scale their business models, but also put in place governance structures that evolve as an innovative company matures – not to mention help them become more appealing impact investments.
Corporate Governance for Early-Stage Innovative Companies: A Practical Resource Guide, compiled by CFI and FMO (the Dutch development bank), is a guide that’s both practical and aspirational, featuring resources and testimonials gleaned from consultative interviews from company founders, investors, academics and others who have been closely involved with growth-stage innovative startups. This resource includes insights and testimonials from peer professionals in the social investment sector: investors, investees and board members.
At a few thousand words long, the report isn’t meant to be exhaustive or encompass all situations and companies, but it raises key topics and points users to further resources, such as a best board practices slide presentation from Accion’s Venture Lab and our “cheat sheet” Maturity Matrix.
This resource is a field guide that a potential board member or a COO can read on a lunch break, something board members can have a printed copy of in their board packs.
This resource’s intended main audience is both board members and founders/executives of innovative companies, but it’s also of interest to financial community professionals, academics, students and anyone with a general interest in financial inclusion or impact investing.
For detailed explanations on the principles, don’t forget to check out the report. What would you add or change?