There are few organisations that can blend the sensitivity of international development work with the power of big business, yet the Adara Group (formerly the ISIS Group) remains proud to stand as something of an exception.
Now, as their business-for-purpose model encourages others to reconsider their responsibility in business, Thread Publishing speaks to Chief Executive Officer of Adara Development (formerly The ISIS Foundation), Susan Biggs, to learn how the Adara Group works – and how private and non-profit businesses can partner to make a difference.
The Adara Group is a unique organisation, made up of two parts.
The first part is Adara Development: an international development organisation focused on health and education, which provides service to the world’s poorest people. It’s focused on working with communities on the ground to help change their lives. Integrated into service delivery is research and knowledge sharing. The organisation conducts household-level research with communities, and shares knowledge with other likeminded organisations to reach more people in need.
The second part is a “business for purpose”, rather than profit. The corporate finance business (Adara Advisors Pty. Limited, formerly ISIS (Asia Pacific) Pty. Limited) was established at the same time as our not-for-profit organisation. It was designed to be the funding engine for the development arm. The Adara business covers all of the administration and overhead costs of the foundation, meaning that 100% of all other donations received are sent directly to fund project costs in Nepal and Uganda. Both the business and not-for-profit arm (known together as the Adara Group) is focused on changing the way people think about the role of business in the world – and the power of partnerships between not-for-profits and private companies.
The two parts of Adara work hand-in-hand with one purpose and one vision. Today, we like to say that we bridge international finance and international poverty.
The Adara business covers all of the administration and overhead costs of the foundation, meaning that 100% of all other donations received are sent directly to fund project costs in Nepal and Uganda.
A unique model
Although the model appears to be unique to Adara, we’re seeing more private companies show an interest in this concept of business for purpose. It’s wonderful to witness such change in that area. We spoke to some MBA students only the other day and I was so inspired by some of their questions, their interests and their excitement about this approach to business.
We see ourselves as a working model for others, but we never say that other people have to do what we’re doing. We are just one model of how it can be done, but there so are many other ways.
Whether you call it social entrepreneurship, social business, or shared value; the movement is really just about businesses using their skills and knowledge to make a difference. Business can change lives – whether it’s the lives of the people that they serve, their customers, their shareholders, or someone they’ve never met.
It’s about more than making money out of business. It’s about using business for much broader purposes.
Adara Development’s (formerly The ISIS Foundation) objective is to work side by side with communities and children in remote areas in Nepal and Uganda, improving their lives through health, education and other community development projects. Since 1998, they have grown to provide services each year to more than 30,000 people in poverty.
The Adara Group have had a wide range of financial supporters over the years. From inception to the end of December 2013, Adara Development had received about A$22.8 million (US$19.1 million) in donations.
Written by Thread Publishing (threadpublishing.com). Connecting the world one story at a time to bring humanity back into business. © 2014
Photo credit: Adara Group; Jonathan Torgovnik.