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Model C, applied in AMAZ's pre-acceleration, encourages business and impact to be thought of together

Photo: Antonio Ribeiro (Move Social) and Lucas Harada (Sense-Lab) during AMAZ pre-acceleration | by Rodrigo Duarte – Odara Audiovisual

O Model C, methodology used in AMAZ's pre-acceleration, was created in partnership between the Sense-Lab and the Social Move, with the support of the ice and the Grupo Boticário Foundation. Based on two tools that have been used to model socio-environmental impact businesses – Business Model Canvas and Theory of Change -, Model C proposes an approach that respects, values and nurtures both with the purpose of contributing to mature impact businesses , guiding and encouraging that the business and the impact are thought of together. 

Launched in 2018, the tool has been applied in various acceleration and training processes, with different profiles. According to a survey carried out by Sense-Lab in November this year, 3,723 downloads of the Model C Guide have already been carried out, including 24 Brazilian states and 11 countries. The tool has also been the object of academic studies. 

Model C was used by the Acceleration and Impact Investment Program of PPA, coordinated by the Idesam and which evolved into the independent accelerator AMAZ, which concluded in December this year the selection of its first Call for Business. 

The last stage of the AMAZ selection process is the pre-acceleration, which took place during the month of November from a face-to-face meeting between the finalist entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in Presidente Figueiredo, Amazonas. During a four-day workshop, Model C was presented to a group of 12 finalist businesses, who worked on it on an individual scale, with application in their own business, and collectively, as they met other entrepreneurs and opened up to suggestions brought by them to from the design of the models of each one.

AMAZ spoke with Antonio Ribeiro, from Move Social, and Lucas Harada, from Sense-Lab, who facilitated the application of Model C with the group. In this interview, the duo assesses the tool, its application to businesses operating in the Amazon ecosystem, and highlights adjustments that have gradually proved necessary since the creation of Model C from practice. 

Where did the snap to create Model C come from?

Antonio Ribeiro (AR): The two organizations, Move Social and Sense-Lab, have a practice of working with impactful businesses and in different ways. And the two were already facing limitations of some approaches and tools. Sense-Lab in relation to the Business Model Canvas and Move in relation to the Theory of Change. When we sat down with an impact thing and started thinking about the Theory of Change, we realized that it couldn't handle it alone. We tested a few things and got to Canvas, which also couldn't handle it. We started exchanging ideas and came a movement to sketch something together. What we knew beforehand was that it couldn't come from our minds, because we weren't in the field, we weren't leading projects of that type. So it would be necessary to somehow involve these other actors who were in the field.

Lucas Harada (LH): At Sense-Lab, we were working with our own acceleration programs and impact businesses. And there, we got stuck a lot, because looking at impact is looking at a whole matter of intentionality, seeing what the person believes, their view of the world, in short. It takes a descent so big that it is not possible to represent it in a business model that only brings the value proposition, which is the Business Model Canvas. We created a more impact-oriented Business Model, but we realized that it still didn't deliver what was needed. Because we experienced the entire impact journey with the entrepreneur and the model did not reflect that. I don't remember exactly how Sense-Lab and Move Social came together, but ICE was a good intermediary, I remember his good provocations. 

AIR: ICE has a very interesting role, instigating, bringing references, and also in appointing Fundação Grupo Boticário as a supporter. And there was a whole construction involving several actors. Model C has things that the Theory of Change doesn't have and that Canvas doesn't have either, but essentially it is an instrument that starts from these two tools, which are already very well known. And that gives a legitimacy. 

Since the creation of Model C, what balance do you make about the implementation of the acceleration processes you have been working on and the impacts?

AIR: Acceptance and usage has been good. There is a wide range of organizations using, and even a master's thesis on Model C. The main power of Model C is the questions it raises for people. It's a non-copyright tool, open for people to use. What we've noticed all this time is that the better the support, the facilitation, the better Model C works. We've already done processes to make the template available for people to fill out and then schedule a two-hour meeting, but that hasn't worked well for everyone. It is an instrument that gains with facilitation, support and time. And time has also shown us that the time for a review is coming. Either to change the names in the boxes or to include the individual. We still don't have a consensus on this, but I argue that we need to enter with another dimension, which is the individual.

LH: Model C, in this format that we are applying with AMAZ, in pre-acceleration, works very well. It's a good diagnosis, a good place for initial questions, a guide to realize how much clarity you have about the business. And then how it unfolds into a development plan of action. But what I always hear is that, as much as we try to involve many organizations, many visions, it still has some formats and nomenclatures that generate doubt. And we also have challenges in applying for community business models or those that have less of an entrepreneurial, startup footprint, are more collective. 

AMAZ is experimenting with Model C in the pre-acceleration of the business, and before, when we were acting as a program under the PPA, the application was made with the business already accelerating. It's a format change brought about by our experience for AMAZ. How do you analyze this? 

AIR: When this demand came from AMAZ, to include Model C in pre-acceleration, we analyzed that it was very pertinent. We had already used the model as a business diagnosis in 2020. In two or three days we were unable to come out with a super round Model C. We have qualified, improved the steps we take so that businesses come out with a model as round as possible, but it is not enough time to leave with everything finalized. Coming to the end of a facilitation process with Model C ready is not the end point. The entrepreneurs' reflection process already shows the moment they are in their business, what are the weaknesses and strengths. There are often people who have never thought about impact. And impact can be thought of at different levels, in the short, medium and long term, and one thing depends on the other. Putting these in little Model C boxes, well, that sometimes starts in the shop, but it takes a while. So using this moment as a diagnosis is very good, and being in pre-acceleration makes a lot of sense for us. Both to help entrepreneurs come out with good models, which can be useful for any step from now on, whether or not they are selected for the acceleration of AMAZ, but also to help them understand the maturity of the businesses and their leaders, to qualify better the look to decide who stays and who leaves. 

LH: I have the same vision. Model C is a good process as a diagnostic view. It also helps to work on concepts and context, because impact business is not a widespread topic in all regions of the country. So, when we are in a region that is building an ecosystem, as in the case of the Amazon, and sometimes the call for business brings some entrepreneurs who are not familiar with this universe, it is important to take a moment to tune everyone in. The application of the model in pre-acceleration has enormous value for businesses to look at its impact, describe indicators, in short. It's a very good gain, because even if this organization doesn't go into acceleration, it can take advantage of all this experience to enter other rounds with partners and investors. Not to mention the exchange that this process promotes, which is perhaps the richest part of it all. The benefit is not just for the companies that will be selected, but for all the finalists. 

AIR: This exchange that Lucas mentioned is very important, and Model C helps in that too. Of course it can be applied as a tool only focused on each one's business, the entrepreneur sits down and does it alone. But the model also facilitates a collective process. Each one builds his own, but are we going to change? Putting people from different places, with different backgrounds, to hear about the business and bring suggestions? This is pretty potent, and happening at pre-acceleration creates value for everyone. Help everyone improve their storytelling and look at their business. 

What impressions do you have of this ecosystem in development in the Amazon and the application of Model C in particular?

LH: I think that the development of this ecosystem as it is happening is of great value. We have a conversation within Sense-Lab about what the acceleration programs are for. Because that says a lot about the potential of an acceleration program. When you have a program that calls business and says it's going to speed it up and it's going to solve problems, I see a lot of boundaries and little connection to the reality of business. And here, first with the PPA Acceleration Program and now with AMAZ, in both cases under the coordination of Idesam, I see a very significant growth in the strengthening of this ecosystem. Because when a program leaves the acceleration itself and expands its gaze to solve common problems, such as logistics, and brings partners and promotes interaction, it actually advances in strengthening the ecosystem. And this is essential when you want to work on the local economy and involve these actors. And that's why I think this work is very recognized. A value that this whole process brings is also the investment and looking at the Amazon beyond business. It brings very diverse actors, and this starts to gain strength and attract attention. Putting the Amazon in the spotlight is something that several organizations are doing. But Idesam, with AMAZ and also since the PPA program, managed to bring a very good visibility to all this that has been carried out.

AIR: Idesam understood many years ago that transforming the reality of the Amazon would not happen if it wasn't collectively. Like some other organizations working in the Amazon. When Idesam, via PPA, created the Acceleration Program, there was already this premise that this reality would not change unless efforts were made. And AMAZ follows, for having Idesam in its genesis, in its ancestry, this premise. To work together, with different sectors, whether they are actors who are doing and thinking about business, but also investors with diversified profiles. 

You mentioned that at some point it would be important to make revisions to Model C. From this accumulation, what are the pains that activate this vision?

AIR: They are inconveniences that we have been noticing in the workshops and in the processes. In some cases we have already made changes and applied new things. We need to make the Model C Guide available for download to reflect this as well. Questions of context, of problems, may also change. And there is a need to have a box for the individual, which is about principles, assumptions, which have to do with the way of doing that business, because today there is no space in the model to capture what causes these things. 

LH: There is another point. Having the frame there and knowing what each thing means doesn't say about how to take it to an application, to everyday life. The guide further explains what it is than what it takes to practice. And the changes to Model C have to do with how you experience that experiment. The way we work is different since we launched the guide. And for me, there is a great discomfort, which is in the approach to organizational capacity. There is a lack of how to do it, which enters into the individual aspect, as Antônio said, but also into a matter of governance. You can be more provocative about that. AIR: This year, for the first time, we are testing some additions to the model, bringing an instrument for entrepreneurs to do a self-assessment after experiencing Model C. How much they know about the context, how much they realized by filling in the model and reflecting on it all. Entrepreneurs leave with the perception of how they are, what are the deficits, where they need to look for information, what they need to do to make up for what is lacking. He assembles a spider chart with the scores and will see how he is performing on Model C. We are testing this here for the first time with AMAZ. And there's something we thought at the beginning, to create a website, a kind of forum, where people could post their experiences. There is a lot being done, and it would be interesting to take these experiences and share, maybe having a C Models bank.

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