In September 2010, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 86 percent of Americans agreed that U.S. companies utilizing outsourced services in foreign countries was one of the contributors to this country's economy and unemployment. For Dave Haft, this percentage is surely concerning – after all, he founded Impact Hub, a startup built on the business of outsourcing – but he feels it's important for people to recognize that there's a distinction between the outsourcing of digital services and that of manufacturing. More importantly, he feels that it's almost necessary for small and medium companies, like startups, to engage in a form of outsourcing called “impact sourcing.”
Impact Hub is an online marketplace for socially responsible outsourcing. Through Impact Hub, small and medium companies can easily connect with socially conscious outsourcing firms that ethically employ workers and invest in poor communities. The startup connects enterprises with 30+ service providers in five countries (in Africa and rural India) to help them meet cost objectives and easily migrate responsibilities abroad.
“These are people who have never been able to work a formal job before and [otherwise] would probably never [have],” says Haft.
Impact sourcing is a kind of outsourcing that focuses on providing work to disadvantaged people in areas of severely low employment. It aims to provide jobs to those who live in parts of the world where access to secondary or tertiary education is severely limited or nonexistent, as well as to educated people who live in communities with extremely high unemployment.
“A lot of startups – if not most – have had experience with outsourcing. Whether it's hiring developers or some sort of lead-generation service. I want to be clear that the developing world is really only a great fit for certain types of work. [At Impact Hub], we focus on the digital services that will ease decision-making processes [for the US companies].”
While Impact Hub is NOT in the business of helping companies find people to work on code or app development, the services that it does aim to find people for are indeed things that startups need. At Impact Hub, the focus is on helping enterprises outsource their digital work to rural India and parts of Africa (like Kenya and Ghana), where there's a lot of innovation and motivation, but with little opportunity, especially for women and youth. There is no exportation of physical labor (for which many Americans have an issue) and the kinds of Internet work Impact Hub focuses one are those that developing communities are capable of and require little technical skill. So, services like big data management (database categorization, management), online research (market research, data gathering), and content management (with regards to keeping all content organized on the Cloud).
“With 1.8 billion people looking for a job, I truly believe that Internet-based work can put a dent in that.”
According to the Rockefeller Foundation, incomes for young people in African nations can increase between 40 percent and 200 percent because of impact sourcing opportunities. Additionally, it notes that utilizing such impact sourcing services actually costs enterprises 40 percent less than otherwise. When it's both cheaper to utilize and provides opportunities to people who would otherwise have nothing, the question really boils down to: why isn't your startup impact sourcing?