02 December 2016

JOBS @ forgood | Junior QA. Tester & Tech Support (with big dreams).

More tech team resources at our social impact "startup"...

--- snip ---

READ THIS ENTIRE JOB SPEC. WE HAVE ASKED THREE QUESTIONS AT THE END OF THE SPEC. PRETTY SILLY THAT WE HAVE TO DO THIS TO ENSURE THAT PEOPLE READ THE JOB - BUT HEY, WHEN YOU LIVE IN THE WORLD OF SPRAY AND PRAY JOB APPLICATIONS, YOU HAVE TO GET RADICAL. SORRY FOR THE CAPS!

ANSWER THE THREE QUESTIONS. DO NOT SEND YOUR CV. WE WILL REQUEST CVs FROM THE BEST ANSWERS. 

Charity might just be broken. Make no mistake, without it we would have been lost - but at best it's providing symptomatic relief to our countries problems. Charities (what we call Causes) are being hammered. They're completely reliant on donor funding. They're fragmented - often doing amazing work independent of each other. They're under the wrong kind of pressure.

We need to improve on this concept of charity. We need to make the social sector work better than it is currently.

We think the gap lies in the social entrepreneurship space. The intersection between pure capitalism and pure charity. Where incentives can drive performance. Where we have access to risk capital to solve problems.

We have built a platform that is already South Africa's largest volunteering platform (connecting more than 90 people a week to causes). This platform is also in use by 9 large South African corporates (eight JSE listed) who use us as a tool to run their employee volunteering programmes. This is how we're going to make a dent in the universe, by building an ecosystem to capacity charity and improve the developing world. 

JOB DESCRIPTION

We're a tech company at heart. We've recently begun the process of building a full-service internal team and have our Team Lead Senior .Net Dev in place. He needs someone to do QA and tech support (for when he breaks stuff)!



TO START IN JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017 (latest). So we have some time to get to know you and for you to work out any notice periods you may have.

YOUR DREAM (we hope)? To work in a fast, free, creative 'startup' environment. Solve big problems. We have a great culture — obsessed with delivery and getting shit done, empowering our staff, failing fast, experimenting and generally just being rad…

You’ll be testing our platform for each new feature that we add for our consumers and business clients and also handle technical support requests, so you get to dive into the nitty gritty and learn a whole bunch about the tech industry.

We're trying to do social involvement, employee volunteering and other good things at SERIOUS SCALE. We've got a white label product that allows huge corporates to plug into our ecosystem and tailor-make their employee volunteering experiences. All these operate off real-time central databases, allowing to keep our fingers on the pulse of social activity in the country.

You know what's cool about this? Every time we get a conversion, it's something awesome happening out there in the world. A connection between a person and a cause and some meaning being generated, some lives being changed. That's a lot more fulfilling than selling razors or clothes or random daily deals!

We are looking for a junior person who is yearning for knowledge and experience in the tech industry and could potentially grow into a development role. Your responsibilities will include testing and tech support. You will work together with the development team to make sure the application is running as it should.

You are the oil in the machine baby!

Responsibilities

  • Test new features, both pre and post deployment
  • Assist with technical queries from internal client team and consumer/business clients
  • Learn and grow - find a skill in tech and move into that job eventually
  • Skills and requirements
  • Technical background
  • Graduate in computer science, software engineering or information technology


Advantageous

  • Some nice to haves…
  • You’ve played with or written some code
  • You have some formal QA training
  • Experience with JIRA or ticket management systems 


Personal Skills/Attributes

Be awesome.


HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT YOU NEED TO SUBMIT. BE CREATIVE. STAND OUT. 

1. What attracts you to forgood? (Stalk us, go deep)

2. What technology would you like to master in the next year?

3. What are your favourite Internet products and why?

Send your answers to careers at forgood dot co dot za

30 November 2016

JOBS @ forgood | Front End Developer (Mid/Senior). Coder with a flair for design!

We're beefing up our Tech Team at forgood. Here's the job spec...

--- snip ---

READ THIS ENTIRE JOB SPEC. 

We have asked three questions at the end of the spec. 

PRETTY SILLY THAT WE HAVE TO DO THIS TO ENSURE THAT PEOPLE READ THE JOB - BUT HEY, WHEN YOU LIVE IN THE WORLD OF SPRAY AND PRAY JOB APPLICATIONS, YOU HAVE TO GET RADICAL. Sorry for the caps!

ANSWER THE THREE QUESTIONS AT THE END. DO NOT SEND YOUR CV. WE WILL REQUEST CVS FROM THE BEST ANSWERS. STILL SHOUTING... Dammit!

Charity might just be broken. Make no mistake, without it we would have been lost - but at best it's providing symptomatic relief to our countries problems. Charities (what we call causes) are being hammered. They're completely reliant on donor funding. They're fragmented - often doing amazing work independent of each other. They're under the wrong kind of pressure.

We need to improve on this concept of charity. We need to make the social sector work better than it is currently.

We think the gap lies in the social entrepreneurship space. The intersection between pure capitalism and pure charity. Where incentives can drive performance. Where we have access to risk capital to solve problems.

We have built a platform that is already South Africa's largest volunteering platform (connecting more than 90 people a week to Causes). This platform is also in use by 9 large South African corporates (8 JSE listed) who use us as a tool to run their employee volunteering programmes. This is how we're going to make a dent in the universe, by building an ecosystem to capacity charity and improve the developing world. 

Job description

We're a tech company at heart. We've recently begun the process of building a full-service internal team and have our team lead senior .Net dev in place. He needs a front end developer friend!

To start in January / February 2017 (latest). So we have some time to get to know you and for you to work out any notice periods you may have.

Your dream (we hope)? To work in a fast, free, creative "startup" environment. Solve big problems. We have a great culture — obsessed with delivery and getting shit done, empowering our staff, failing fast, experimenting and generally just being rad…


You'll be building and iterating the biggest tech platform the South African social sector has seen. We're trying to do social involvement, employee volunteering and other good things at SERIOUS SCALE. We've got a white label product that allows huge corporates to plug into our ecosystem and tailor-make their employee volunteering experiences. All these operate off real-time central databases, allowing to keep our fingers on the pulse of social activity in the country.

You know what's cool about this? Every time we get a conversion, it's something awesome happening out there in the world. A connection between a person and a Cause and some meaning being generated, some lives being changed. That's a lot more fulfilling than selling razors or clothes or random daily deals!

We are looking for a front-end web developer who is motivated to combine the art of design with the art of programming. Bit of an all-rounder, an experimenter, likes getting stuck in. Responsibilities will include translation of the UI/UX design wireframes to actual code that will produce visual elements of the application.

You will work with the UI/UX designer and bridge the gap between graphical design and technical implementation, taking an active role on both sides and defining how the application looks as well as how it works.

Responsibilities

  • Develop new user and client-facing features build reusable code and libraries for future use
  • Ensure the technical feasibility of UI/UX designs optimise application for maximum speed and scalability
  • Assure that all user input is validated before submitting to back-end
  • Collaborate with other team members and stakeholders


Requirements

  • Proficient understanding of web markup, including HTML5, CSS3
  • Basic understanding of CSS pre-processing platforms, such as LESS and SASS
  • Proficient understanding of client-side scripting (JavaScript 5 and ECMAScript 6 / TypeScript).
  • Good understanding of a JS framework such as Angular, Ember, Backbone, React, Durandal / Aurelia etc. (Bonus points for a MV* framework!)
  • Good understanding of asynchronous request handling, partial page updates, AJAX / Promises and interacting with REST / Web API services.
  • Good understanding of a package manager such as npm, jspm or bower and a build / bundling tool such as Gulp, Grunt or Webpack.
  • Basic knowledge of image authoring tools, to be able to crop, resize, or perform small adjustments on an image. Familiarity with tools such as Gimp or Photoshop is important. You gotta have a flair for design yo!
  • Proficient understanding of cross-browser compatibility issues, responsive design, mobility design and ways to work around all of that.
  • Proficient understanding of code versioning tool such as Git, Mercurial, SVN, etc. We promise to only subject you to Git.
  • Good understanding of SEO principles and ensuring that application will adhere to them.
  • Understanding or some skills in ASP.NET would also be greatly beneficial — just so you and our Team Lead can speak in languages that no-one else can understand.


Some nice to haves…

  • SVG and CSS
  • You can generate SVG programmatically.
  • You can build a grid framework from scratch.
  • You can position content anywhere you want it regardless of page size and other content.
  • You can animate anything and everything.
  • VisualStudio / VSCode (you're able to use these platforms)
  • Continuous Integration, C#, NoSQL DB


Personal Skills/Attributes

  • Be awesome.


HERE ARE THE THREE QUESTIONS THAT WE REQUIRE YOU TO SUBMIT.

1. What attracts you to forgood? (Stalk us, go deep)

2. What new front end tech are you using and why?

3. Pressure test baby. You've merged the wrong change and the home page looks like soup. What do you do?

Email careers at forgood dot co dot za

Use the code #FRONTEND.

10 November 2016

Different World. Different Business. Different Life.

I've been writing quite a bit recently about the status quo of how we solve development challenges - and the stigmas that surround this industry. The world is changing (quickly) and it's becoming increasingly apparent that we need a different approach to live in it...

Charities, Citizens and Corporates

On the one hand, charities are under immense pressure - the imposed and traditional model of donor reliance is not sustainable. Many charities are not efficiently managed, either because they've never had to do the managing (being focused on solving the social problem was the genesis of the non-profit) or because they simply can't afford the resources to do the managing. Charity founders still seem to spend all their time solving problems for beneficiaries (kinda why the charity was founded in the first place if you think about it).

There are always exceptions, but my gut feeling is that this applies to at least 80% of the rumored 150k charities we have registered in South Africa.

On the other hand, neoliberalism and pure market driven capitalism isn't helping either. First off, they're big scary terms that our attention-deficit economy is only starting to bring into mainstream conversation. People don't understand them and certainly don't understand the broader socio-economic consequences. Then, to top it off, capitalism is most likely creating many of the problems the poor charities are trying to solve in the first place.

Finally, you have corporate CSI, which is meant to play a catalyst role, but doesn't seem to be able to effect systems change (yet). CSI is changing though - and I have a lot of hope for this space as technology, focus, better measurement and other innovations build up. With 1% Net Profit After Tax (2% in other developing countries, like India) at play... We can and will do more.

Enter the Social Enterprise

With the rise of the "social enterprise" buzzword, it seems we're faced with two options. Build better charities or try and change the game completely.

I'm not sure iterating on the charity model is going to move the needle. There's a company I met recently that fits the approach I'm more interested in - changing the game.

Meet Different Life. They're a life insurance company, with an important difference. The first monthly payment of every year goes into a wallet. Using their social impact arm, Different.org - you can donate 100% of that payment to any of their 20 or so curated charities and development projects.



Now, in case you hadn't noticed, insurance at scale is a fairly good business. For a fairly new product in the South Africa market, Different Life are already making sizable monetary contributions towards development challenges. What's even more attractive about the model is that the customer gets to choose where that first payment goes - a sense of involvement and empowerment is critical in the "giver" space.



And every year, customers get another opportunity to allocate funds, as long as you remain a Different Life customer. Premium philanthropists, if you will :)

That changes the game, no?

What did they do? They sacrificed a little bit of potential profit to build a business that has social purpose. They built a business, like I keep saying - that can make money and change the world at the same time.

A little bit of insider knowledge now.

This social mission goes a bit deeper into their company structure. If you're going to build something with purpose, you might as well go whole hog. What I found particularly fascinating is how Different Life have written their social enterprise "code" into their shareholder agreement and board mandate at a holding company level.

Different Group owns Different Life and the mandate to collaborate with  Different.org (non-profits don't have shareholders). Here are some of the guidelines they have signed - between founders and shareholders.

  • Shareholders get a "reasonable return" allowing for the risk of the investment. 
  • All additional return is reinvested in growth business (insurance), impact businesses (which are self-sustaining but focused on maximising impact metrics) and direct philanthropy. 
  • Dividends will be paid once there are no more opportunities for impact.
  • Board of Directors is explicitly mandated to maximise impact (in line with the mission statement) rather than profit.
  • Next step: all group companies will donate 10% of profit towards impact (rather than just 1% to CSI).

You get to define "reasonable return" yourself - this will open the space up for different risk appetites.

But think about this for a second... a business that is designed to return social and capital dividends. Sounds like the future?


Have a look at the Different Life insurance product





* This post was sponsored by Different Life. The views and opinion expressed are my own.

19 October 2016

The problem with the definition of "social entrepreneurship"

I was excited to see that LeadSA and the Bertha Centre have setup a podcast series around Social Entrepreneurship - Social Enterprise 101 (iTunes). There is precious little content around this space in South Africa. This is a quality production and I'm looking forward to working through it.

The very first episode got me into debate mode within the first 5 minutes. You see, I have a problem with the traditional/academic definition of "social entrepreneurship" - and as usual, it's all about the money.

In the intro, the hosts (Sibongile Mafu and Bame Modungwa) specifically define a social enterprise as an entrepreneurial venture with a social mission - where all profits are funneled back into the business to further the social mission.

I have a number of problems with this definition.

Change the Model
Can we agree that existing models are broken? Pure charity is broken - it's mostly providing symptomatic relief. The problems it's trying to solve are still there. This is obviously not to underplay the critical role charity has played in a country like South Africa - but most would agree, pure charity doesn't have a rosy, sustainable future.

Pure capitalism is just as broken. Capitalism is causing most of the problems pure charity is trying to solve! Biggest wealth gap ever. All eyes on gini coefficients across the globe. Cultural backlash to neoliberalism. Pervasive poverty. Failure of trickle down economics. You name it.

By defining social entrepreneurship like they did on the podcast - you're not changing the model. You're just creating a better charity with less focus on solving the passion problem and more on business principles and sustainability.

Show The Talent The Money
Entrepreneurial talent is typically attracted with money. That's the base definition of entrepreneurship, isn't it? It's the way we keep score. I'm not saying that's right - see minor rant about capitalism above - it's just reality.

But if you accept the view that entrepreneurial people tend to be attracted to for-profits and socially minded passion problem solvers tend to get attracted to non-profits, then how are we going to attract these entrepreneurial skills that we say the "charity" sector so desperately needs, if we funnel all the money back into the enterprise?

Come entrepreneurial skills, bust your ass solving social problems - but always remember that the world fundamentally thinks that being financially rewarded for solving social problems is inherently evil.

Revenue Models Lower Reliance on Donor Funding
If you don't give returns to shareholders (i.e. profits get reinvested to continue the social mission), you'll never have access to the risk capital market. This was my primary irritation when I wrote the pre-forgood piece: "What pisses me off about the NGO sector...".

The risk capital market is untapped by the development sector - and it's critical for changing the stigma of failure around businesses with a social mission, breeding a culture of experimentation, iteration and innovation.

So basically, instead of donor funding, we're now after grant funding. And yet we won't escape our dependence on it. The worst thing that could happen is for social enterprises to become as dependent on grant funding as charities are currently on donor funding.

Allowing a social enterprise to return some profits to investors changes the game completely.

Set The Right Incentives
Reinvesting all profits back into a social enterprise is noble, for sure. But how is this going to solve the problem of personal wealth creation? I'm not being selfish or evil here - I'm being realistic.

One of the primary achievements of successful entrepreneurs (fair reward for the enormous risk and difficulty of building your own show) is wealth creation - the freedom to continue doing what you want to do.

If you're going to reinvest profits of a social enterprise, you essentially make equity worthless. These businesses are unlikely to be sold - so there's no possible exit in that fashion. All you're incentivized to do is continually bloat your salary, getting us right back to square one with the sustainability problems faced by charities.

Set the right incentives - social enterprises should free us to measure both profit AND social impact. We don't have to be billionaires - but why do you not want to reward entrepreneurs for solving social problems and making money at the same time?  I don't know where you draw the line, but I don't think enough people are having this conversation.


Perhaps I'm too capitalist? I'm not sure.

I see the bright, shining opportunity for systemic change in how we tackle social problems and the company structures and incentive cultures we can use to do it.

With forgood, our dream is: social and capital dividends - in equal measures.

Why is that wrong?


Further reading if you're interested:

17 October 2016

Going beyond the volunteer bus - a new approach to corporate employee volunteering programmes...

A lot of what we're trying to do with forgood is change behavior on both sides of the social sector. What can be improved about volunteering? How can volunteers create more impact? How do we match volunteer skills to the right kind of projects (moving away from painting walls and planting gardens)? How can technology help Causes (charities) use volunteers and crowd-sourced resources to create more meaningful impact? How can technology create impact through scale in the social sector?

Part of this is re-thinking the approach to corporate volunteering. There's a lot of human capital that lies untapped inside corporates across South Africa.

Here's a little release around that.

--- snip ---

Going beyond the volunteer bus.

The heyday of bundling staff into a bus to paint an underprivileged school to fulfill Corporate Social Investment (CSI) targets is starting to fizzle out. Customers and investors want to see real impact – and employees are increasingly concerned with social purpose and business beyond the bottom line.

At present, this often means extra slog work for under-capacitated CSI teams. However, if companies embrace technology to make connections and do the tracking, a more unstructured and creative approach to volunteering can allow brands to foster deeper engagement from their staff. 

“Research says that effective volunteering programmes can be powerful tools for building employee loyalty and brand affiliation – a key part of employee engagement initiatives,” says Andy Hadfield, CEO of online volunteering and CSI management tool www.forgood.co.za.

The CSI industry, says Hadfield, is often characterised by projects that are mostly aligned to what communities really need, but activities that do not always engage or excite employees. “In order for volunteer programmes to be effective, businesses need to tap into real sentiment and commitment from their staff.” 

Having facilitated connections between individuals and nonprofits for years, forgood now offers a customisable management tool for business. Corporates sign up for a branded employee volunteering platform populated with real-time requests from nonprofits. Employees browse for activities and make arrangements directly – but all actions can be tracked for use in CSI reporting.

The platform addresses the limited capacity of CSI teams, which to date has dampened the effectiveness of volunteering programmes in South Africa. “Forgood takes away the slog of sourcing and arranging opportunities for staff involvement, allowing management to focus on more meaningful and strategic work,” says Hadfield.

“Volunteer programmes should work in tandem with staff satisfaction and development programmes - they have been shown to improve collaboration, innovation and soft skill development,” says Hadfield, who helped develop Deloitte’s groundbreaking staff engagement system back in 2008 before taking his skills to the social sector with forgood. 

“South Africans and millennials in general are eager to get involved in social projects, but they want a more personalised experience. With a tool like forgood, businesses are able to offer volunteer opportunities to suit all tastes and types, highlight existing corporate CSI initiatives – and track it all,” says Hadfield.