Turner Family Center Summer Fellow Sarah Imran at Pact


This summer, I was selected as a TFC Fellow, which supported my internship at an international NGO called Pact. Pact is an international development organization that works towards helping communities develop capacity to build their own solutions and take ownership of their future. During my internship, I worked out of the Pact HQ in Washington DC.

Like many of its international NGO peers, Pact is looking to diversify its own funding stream by engaging in the sphere of impact investing, while also advance its mission to build capacity in local communities by developing a program to support social entrepreneurs. The primary role during my internship was to conduct a landscape analysis on organizations that help support and strengthen social entrepreneurs, social enterprises, and the field of social entrepreneurship. The aim of this research was to inform the nature of the social enterprise strengthening program that Pact Ventures will design.

I divided my landscape into seven main categories:

  1. Accelerators
  2. Incubators
  3. Academic centers
  4. Fellowships
  5. Investors
  6. Foundations
  7. Support organizations

Within each of these categories, my supervisor Stephanie and I selected one key player in terms of influence and success within each category, and I conducted brief case studies on these organizations to gain more in-depth knowledge on their approach, their funding model, how they measure success and what unique value proposition they offer.

Some of the organizations that are leaders in this space that I wrote case studies on include Ashoka, Y Combinator, Halcyon Incubator, Duke University’s Center of Social Entrepreneurship, LeapFrog Investments and the Skoll Foundation.

Pact office

The purpose of this landscape and case study analysis was to gain knowledge on the range of services and variety of programs that are being offered in the social enterprise space, and based on this knowledge, assess the unique value proposition that Pact can offer, given its’ assets and resources. While each organization has a lot of strengths and a lot that Pact can learn from, through my research I found that Pact also holds a unique set of assets that can be leveraged towards building a successful social enterprise strengthening program.

After completing the landscape and case study analysis, I presented my findings to a group of people from the Pact Ventures team, Social Innovation team, Capacity Development team, and others who have experience and interest in the topic. The presentation culminated in a focus group session in which some of the topic areas that were discussed included:

  1. A discussion on what is already happening in the field
  2. Pact’s unique value proposition
  3. Design elements that Pact is best positioned to offer
  4. The ideal enterprise that Pact should work with

This was a very fruitful discussion and some of the main takeaways included the need to conduct an asset mapping exercise coupled with further brainstorming on Pact Venture’s unique value proposition in order to proceed with developing a social enterprise support program.

At my work station

Overall, I had an incredible experience during my internship. My supervisor, Stephanie Turpin, is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and she was an extremely wonderful mentor to me during my time there. I absolutely loved working at Pact, and greatly admire and appreciate Pacts’ approach to international development. Not only is the work being done by this organization remarkable, but so is the warm and friendly work culture that has been cultivated there. I love that Pact, as an organization, encourages collective growth, learning and knowledge-sharing and embodies a genuine commitment to human welfare and development. Along with working at Pact, I also greatly enjoyed working in DC. I had the chance to meet with a number of other young professionals that are engaged in the social enterprise space.

I am grateful to have been selected as a TFC Fellow and to have had this enriching experience, to grow in both a personal and professional capacity. I look forward to continuing a close working partnership with Pact Ventures and to share lessons learned with the TFC community.

With StephanieBiking to work