View Resource: Cultivate Your Ecosystem
This article by Bloom and Dees describes an ecosystem framework to help social entrepreneurs create long-lasting and significant social change. The ecosystem framework guides social entrepreneurs to analyze the broader environments within which organizations operate in order to understand and adjust strategies based on an evolving political, economic, physical, and cultural environment.
Using Self-Help’s strategies in assessing and changing the environment of low-income lending to address greater social issues, Bloom and Dees present several layers of the ecosystem framework. First, they describe how to map an ecosystem, which involves defining the organizations’ theory of change and the various parts of their ecosystem: the “players” involved and the environmental conditions that could influence the ability to achieve the organizations’ intended impact. Next, the authors present two paths to systemic change, which are either changing the environmental conditions that change the behavior of people involved, or introducing an innovation that spreads enough to change a particular behavior.
Further, the authors present additional ways to use the ecosystems framework, such as imparting deeper understanding of the organization’s theory of change, mapping resource flows within the ecosystem, or identifying new partnerships.