Bridges for Enterprise
πŸš€ BfE Briefs, Vol. #2
Welcome to the June BfE newsletter! πŸŽ‰

Dear BfE family,

I found myself grinning wide after our inaugural Global Startup Review Committee went off without a hitch on Saturday. This was an event we had planned for months, and I was ecstatic to see it work so seamlessly. A massive thank you and nod of appreciation goes out to Jeson, Zack and all of the chapter Startup Recruitment teams. Thank you for your leadership!

To give some context: we first strategized about changing the way we review and accept startups into our Incubation Programme last year. At that time, we had been accepting startups on a case-by-case rolling basis for a few years without receiving input from any external professionals. While this formula worked in the past, we realized that we'd need to streamline our process to accommodate a growing influx of applications (woo!). We also recognized the need to consult professionals who work in the social impact, sustainability and investment fields; without their advice, we wouldn't be able to form as intelligent of an opinion as we otherwise would. 

We then recruited professionals to join our committee, refined our evaluation criteria for startup acceptance, created a voting algorithm, planned a 2-hour event and created 50+ pages of pre-circulated and pitch materials for the day of. Collectively, these steps took 6+ months of planning to create a smooth event. But we did it!

I share this story to draw a broader lesson about BfE. As an all-volunteer organization, we cannot do things alone, nor can we do things incredibly quickly. Big strategic changes take time. Rallying support from people at both the chapter and global levels, we were able to completely transform our startup recruitment process over the last year. Going forward, we now have a battle-tested blueprint for reviewing and accepting new startups into BfE cohorts twice per year. This is no small feat.

Are there lessons we can learn from this startup recruitment process that can be applied elsewhere in BfE to those working on long-term projects? Maybe. My word of advice: break up ambitious ideas into smaller, bite-sized steps that can be tackled on a week-to-week basis. Get consensus and buy-in from different stakeholders. Chart forth a plan and delegate tasks accordingly. Maintain a consistent communication channel, be flexible and execute according to the strategy that's been created. Surely this isn't an exact science, but hopefully it provides some food for thought.

I look forward to building on these successes and sharing more exciting updates in the months to come. This newsletter will be a short one (it's the summer, after all), but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

Keep dreaming big,


πŸ“‹ [TLDR] 5 Main Updates

Missed something within BfE this month? Here's what you need to know:

  • Our 3-year strategic vision will be released in the next few weeks! This 100+ page document has been in the works for many months. Inside, you'll discover everything you'd ever want to know about BfE. It will help guide our global strategy going forward, providing a North Star for us all to work towards πŸ’ͺ
  • With most students pursuing summer internships, our chapters have been taking it relatively slow this month. The BfE Vancouver and Rotterdam Chapters have been hard at work recruiting new members to join their team this Fall, and we're looking forward to their chapter expansion (fingers crossed)
  • The BfE Tech Division has made steady progress on some of our long-term goals, including charting out a roadmap for the tentative launch of BfE Members Portal next year
  • The Impact Research Division has finished a rough draft of our first ever BfE impact framework! This spreadsheet is a comprehensive 'wish list' of all the impact objectives, indicators and metrics that we'd like to capture across different BfE stakeholders. This framework will guide our impact data collection going forward; we hope to put it into motion soon πŸ‘€
  • Our summer internships are going smoothly! Please say a warm welcome to this stellar group of students if you haven't already πŸ‘
🌍 Global Updates

We've continued to make steady progress on various initiatives at the global level. This month was a busy one. Here's what each division was up to:

πŸ“Š Incubation

  • We welcomed Albert as our new Global Technical Advisory Manager!
  • The Incubation Division has formalized some documents to assist with onboarding and off-boarding new division members

🀝 Outreach

  • Communications: Shinyoung transitioned to a new role as Global Community Manager, where she'll be focusing on alumni engagement and internal social activities πŸŽ‰ We also finished a new case study from a Technical Advisory (TA) engagement with MCA Technologies (Tanzania). Check it out here before it launches on our website soon!
  • Partnerships: We're exploring a potential partnership with Einstein Rising (social enterprise accelerator in Uganda), and considering creating a new framework for approaching potential partners at both the chapter and global levels. Stay tuned!

πŸ”‹ Strategy & Operations

  • Please welcome Annie (former New York Chapter President) as our new Global Head of Strategy! In this new role, Annie will be working with BfE chapters to spearhead some exciting future growth plans
  • Our inaugural Global Startup Review Committee was a big success! The two-hour event featured 15 startup 'pitches' given by Startup Recruitment members across the BfE Cambridge, New York and Singapore chapters. The event helped us narrow down the 174 (!) startups that applied to join BfE for the Autumn cohort. Voting members are now casting their decisions; thereafter, we will welcome a new class of ~10 startups to BfE

πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» Impact Research

  • The Impact Research Division has finished a rough draft of our first ever impact framework, a comprehensive document that will help guide impact data collection going forward. We'll now be sharing it with AMNIe (BfE partner) and a few others to refine it and put it into motion πŸ’¨
  • Esther is currently trialing the UN SDG-aligned impact framework for BfE startup alumni with select startups. We hope to gather some concrete feedback on it to gauge its utility for startups to better track their impact
  • We are hoping to trial a quarterly newsletter for startup alumni in the next 1-2 months. Come across any interesting articles, resources or funding opportunities for our startups? Feel free to throw it in the #usefulstuff channel on Slack to help us compile stuff πŸ™

βš™οΈ Technology

  • Kevin (Global Technology Head) and Pranav (Global DevOps Manager) have been reviewing applicants for DevOps volunteer roles, as well as integrating UI standardisation into our codebase
  • Kathi (Global Tech Programme Manager) has created a suite of tech project management tools for our developers to use. She has also been leading progress on creating a Tech Leaders Fellowship (new BfE Tech initiative!) by outlining modules and speaking to all the global tech managers about potential courses that would be helpful for incoming tech talent
  • Brie (Global Tech Strategies Manager) has created a talent profiling system to track skillsets of various past and current tech members. She has also devised wireframes for rebranding BfE Tech and updating the Tech website
  • Brenda (Global Product Manager) has organized all feature requests for BfE Members Portal on a Trello board. She is speaking to different people in BfE to validate user requests to then create a roadmap for executing on various projects for the tentative launch of Members Portal late next year. Look out for an invitation to an open forum event where we'll discuss ideas you all have for Members Portal!
  • Xing (Global Analytics and Algorithms Manager) has been creating NLP training modules for future machine learning projects within BfE
  • Ian (Global UI/UX Manager) has created a thorough plan for a new BfE design system on Figma, Zeroheight and Storybook. He is also interviewing candidates for an 8-week volunteer project to help create this integrated design system for BfE Tech (kicking off soon)
Watch the Global Startup Review Committee Event

(Please do not share the above recording with anyone outside of BfE. It includes confidential information. Thank you.)

πŸ“š Chapter Updates

Our chapters have been taking it slower this month, with many pursuing summer internships. But they also have some exciting updates to share, including:

πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ Cambridge

  • We have set up our Chapter’s Facebook page – do support us by following and liking it!

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ New York

  • We have successfully onboarded 21 new BfE members for Fall 2021! We are planning a socially distanced in-person meet up in July
  • Our Incubation teams have received post-engagement feedback from Sustainable Youth Development Foundation (Uganda), Coronet Blockchain (South Africa) and She Wins Mexico. Coronet Blockchain and She Wins Mexico, in particular, were very satisfied with their BfE experiences

πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¬ Singapore

  • The Singapore Chapter has been starting to reach out to organizations that they hope to consider partnering with. There will be more updates over the next two months after chapter members conclude their internships and return to school

πŸ‡³πŸ‡± Rotterdam

  • After some delays and scheduling challenges, our consulting team officially concluded its engagement with Teamcoby Nigeria. We have also been busy recruiting for next semester!

πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Vancouver

  • We have been busy recruiting for next semester! We will have confirmed our new chapter members in the next week
πŸ™‹ Members Corner

We are so grateful for the outstanding contributions made by the following BfE members this month. Thank you and well done! πŸ‘

  • 🌍 From the BfE Global Team: A huge shoutout goes to Jeson (Global Operations Head) and Zack (Global Startup Recruitment Manager) for successfully leading our inaugural Startup Review Committee event. Also, we'd like to give a nod of recognition to Kathi (Global Tech Programme Manager) for her hard work, ownership and swift progress on her key tasks
  • πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ From BfE Cambridge: We would like to highlight Keene (Cambridge Communications Director) and the Comms Team for their good work in organising a social media schedule and sending around internal email updates
  • πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ From BfE Vancouver: Shoutout to Inbal (Vancouver President) and Hanting (Vancouver Vice President) for leading a successful recruitment cycle for new members, interviewing over 15 people for their chapter!
  • πŸ“š From multiple chapters: Thank you to all the Startup Recruitment members from BfE Cambridge, New York and Singapore for their efforts at the Startup Review Committee! Your pitches were excellent and you should be proud of your efforts πŸ‘
πŸ’‘ Startup Spotlight

Curious what our startups have been up to? This month, we're spotlighting a few in our portfolio for their impactful work:

  • Safeplan UgandaFounded in 2017, Safeplan Uganda is a youth-led organisation selling and distributing efficient cooking and light technologies (e.g. self-produced solar lanterns and cookstoves) in Uganda
    • Safeplan Uganda worked with the BfE Cambridge Chapter (Autumn 2020, Spring 2021) to research human resource practices, fundraising sources and business growth strategies
    • Safeplan Uganda is currently crowdfunding for their women-owned beehive enterprise business! Click here to read about this impactful initiative and consider donating if you're able πŸ’°
  • Angaza ElimuAngaza Elimu is a Kenyan edtech startup that delivers personalized learning experiences to students through an interactive and adaptive e-learning platform
    • Angaza Elimu worked with the BfE Cambridge Chapter on Consulting, Finance and Technical Advisory engagements in Spring and Autumn 2019
    • The startup was recently announced as one of 15 startups to be selected for the 6th annual Google for Startups Accelerator in Africa! The 3-month online programme includes virtual training bootcamp, mentorship and Google product support
πŸ“† Upcoming Events

πŸŽ‰ We're co-hosting another event with our partner, Stepchange Africa, on 8 July. Focusing on business expansion for African startups and SMEs, this event will feature Brad Magrath (Co-Founder and former CEO of pan-African fintech Zoona), Millicent Muigai (CEO of MumsVillage Kenya) and Aparupa Chakravarti (Director at Botho Emerging Markets Group - and a BfE Advisor!)

πŸ—ž News, Resources and Jobs



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