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Impact Sourcing

Author: Talitha Bertelsmann-Scott and Tanja Hichert
Organisation: Rockerfeller Foundation
Publish Date: 2012
Country: Africa
Sector: Development
Method: Scenarios
Theme: Unemployment
Type: Other publication
Language: English
Tags: Impact Sourcing, Scenarios, Business Process Outsourcing, Outsourcing for Social Betterment,Global Outsourcing, IS Service Providers, Microwork, Poverty Reduction through Information and Digital Emp

It is estimated that the field of Impact Sourcing (IS) - employing socioeconomically disadvantaged people in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) centres, such as call centres - is currently worth $4.5 billion and has the potential to reach $20 billion and employ 780,000 people by 2015.

IS has emerged as a result of social entrepreneurs within the field of global outsourcing making use of three mechanisms, one, innovative employment models, two, efficient service delivery models, and three, substantially improved Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure in developing countries. BPO is a worldwide industry but it does not necessarily or always make use of Impact Sourcing to fill employment gaps, rather IS is currently filling a tiny space within BPO. In practice, IS Service Providers (ISSP) offer semi-skilled, previously unemployed, often young workers a short period of training and introduction to computers and English skills, after which they are then employed at a centre to do either microwork or call centre functions.

IS has a window of around a decade or slightly more in which to develop and reap benefits for the poor before it is expected that computer automation and artificial intelligence will take over. The aim for developing countries with large numbers of semi-skilled, unemployed citizens is how to go about reaping as much benefit as possible within the IS space in order to benefit the unemployed and further how to go about using experience gained within the next ten years to move workers onto a new and equally beneficial platform.

This paper is an attempt to define Impact Sourcing, which has also been referred to as Outsourcing for Social Betterment, as well as evaluate what its impact has been on Africa and how the continent can go about increasing IS to address unemployment and poverty. It follows on a Scenario Planning Workshop, How Will the Future of Impact Sourcing Evolve Over the Next Ten Years?, which was held in Nairobi in April 2012, at the Rockerfeller Foundation. The Foundation has been involved in research regarding IS through its work on Poverty Reduction through Information and Digital Employment (PRIDE). Through PRIDE, the Rockefeller Foundation has supported the development and testing of Impact Sourcing business models, supported research on interventions and continues to build the network of key Impact Sourcing stakeholders to advance the field.
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