Our blog has moved!

Bain’s Social Impact blog has a new home!

We recently launched a brand new website devoted to Bain’s social impact work and have incorporated the blog within it. Now you can read our latest social impact stories from around the globe while also having access to additional content showcasing how our employees are partnering for impact, pursuing their passions and leaving a legacy.

If you have previously signed up to receive email alerts from the blog, you will automatically begin receiving them from the new site. Otherwise, click HERE to read new posts or to sign up for email alerts and RSS feeds.

To bookmark the blog, the new web address is: bainsocialimpactblog.com 


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Mandela Day 2013 in Johannesburg

Mandela Day 2013

Bain Johannesburg once again took part in the annual Mandela Day on July 18th with 55 Bainies excitedly setting off to visit four different organisations in the local community for the afternoon. Bain Cares Johannesburg selected the following four sites based on where we could make the biggest impact and create lasting relationships:

  • Painting and games at Ekupholeni Trauma Centre
  • Mini-consulting to social impact entrepreneurs at The HUB
  • Painting a children’s home at 5Cees Children’s Care Centre
  • A brainstorming session at Tomorrow Trust, an educational non-profit, to kick-start our relationship and brainstorm ways in which Bain can provide on-going support

A group of Bainies took to the road and headed to Ekupholeni Trauma Centre, where they refurbished counselling rooms and donated soccer equipment, which was then used to play a game of soccer with the high-school boys. Ekupholeni provides psycho-social counselling to victims of trauma and Bainies felt that they were able to help the centre provide the right environment for the therapy and counselling needed for teenage boys on or over the edge of crime.

Bainies also continued their work with a social innovation incubator, The HUB, which supports social entrepreneurs in Johannesburg. It’s part of a global network of ‘HUBs’ that provide a workspace for entrepreneurs, create forums for innovation and connect the entrepreneurs with individuals who can help scale their social impact work. Bainies got to learn about the incredible projects that the passionate entrepreneurs are working on, such as producing biodiesel from waste vegetable oil, teaching young South Africans how to build sustainable businesses, selling vintage fashion online, investing in educational improvement and imparting experience to recent college graduates. The real fun began when entrepreneurs and Bainies broke off to brainstorm, and the entrepreneurs were able to have access to Bain’s collective wisdom, advice, and humour for a few hours. A lot of great ideas and next steps forward were generated. There was a strong commitment from the Bainies to reconnect and establish more long term relationships. As one of the Managers put it, “Everyone including the ACs gets to play partner for a day.”

There is an orphanage that is close to our hearts, as one of our own colleagues grew up at the 5Cees Care Centre. One of the children’s living areas was in desperate need of a paint job, and we brought in equipment and re-painted the rooms. Bainies all felt extremely inspired by the incredible job that this centre does in providing a much-needed home for so many children, and are eager to do more to get involved.

Finally, a diverse team of Bainies including several partners spent the afternoon at Tomorrow Trust, an educational non-profit that provides holistic educational support for orphaned and vulnerable children right from kindergarten to tertiary education. The team spent the afternoon brainstorming ways in which Bain can offer on-going support to help them think about how to grow over the next five years. The team also helped them to identify their most important success factors as well as the most critical areas of improvement. Bainies were very excited about the possibility of providing on-going support and advice to such an incredible organisation.

We celebrated back at the office at the end of the day by auctioning off a Nelson Mandela memorabilia shirt for charity, and reflecting on our small yet meaningful contributions on this great day.

– Cleo, Bain Johannesburg

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Boston’s inaugural global development speaker event

Last month, members of the Boston office gathered for an engaging discussion on global development. The speaker event, entitled “Issues in Global Development: Agriculture,” was sponsored by Boston’s new Global Development Network. The panelists included Carolina Lescano, a former AC who works at Root Capital; Ross Lipstein, a former AC with externship experience at the Gates Foundation and ATA Ethiopia who is currently enrolled in a joint MBA-MPAID program through Harvard and Stanford Universities; and Lindsay Wilner, a Consultant with experience working with Technoserve in Tanzania.

The event was a lively and informal discussion with plenty of audience participation, including several Bainies from the San Francisco and Dallas offices who were able to listen in and ask questions from their home offices. While the discussion focused primarily on the issues and importance of agricultural development, it also covered a wide variety of topics such as developing and balancing a “social return on investment,” and how the Bain skill set applies to the global development sector. Toward the end of the event, an audience member asked the panelists why they are passionate about global development. Their answers focused on the opportunity to have a lasting impact, connect with people from all over the world, and work in an exciting and changing field – all of which resonated with the audience.

As founding members of the Global Development Network, the discussion was especially exciting for us. Bain’s commitment to Global Development takes many diverse forms: pro-bono case work with organizational partners such as Endeavor and Acumen, externships at global development organizations all over the world, and practice area experts who develop insights into the space. As ACs who are passionate about global development, we wanted to create a forum to discuss progress in the space, as well as to highlight the many ways in which Bain engages with this topic.

While the goals of global development – lifting billions out of poverty, educating the world’s children, and providing adequate food, safety, housing, and healthcare – can seem daunting, the opportunity to work toward them is exciting, and one we feel lucky to have. This forum allowed us to discuss those issues, and it’s exciting to be part of the passionate and dedicated group of Bainies committed to addressing them!

– John and Sophie, Associate Consultants, Boston

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Social Impact Day at Bain Toronto

The Toronto office held its annual Social Impact Day earlier this spring and launched a new internal program to kick off the day together before heading out to the community to volunteer.

In the morning, we hosted a social impact forum for the first time, inviting current Bainies, Bain alumni, and our social impact partners to speak about their experiences in the social sector. In an effort to expose our office to as many different perspectives as possible, we decided to adopt a TED-talks-style approach, giving each speaker 15 minutes in which to distill their ideas and experiences. These presentations were supplemented by two Q&A panels, giving Bainies the chance to dig deeper into topics of interest. In total we had 12 speakers join us for the morning, speaking on a broad range of topics:

  1. Social impact efforts around the Bain system
  2. Local volunteer opportunities
  3. Social sector careers – with the personal story of a former Bain manager who joined the Heart and Stroke Foundation as their Chief Strategy Officer
  4. Extra-curricular social impact activities – from a current Bainie who took time off to develop a solar energy start-up before business school
  5. Introduction to Special Olympics Canada (social impact consulting partner) and live interview with Special Olympics athlete and volunteer
  6. Introduction to Motionball (community outreach partner) and views on how to engage the “next generation” of supporters
  7. Introduction to United Way-funded shelter (fundraising partner) and story of the speaker’s trajectory from successful business man to homelessness to executive director of the shelter

The inaugural social impact forum proved to be a great way for our office to start the day together. As one Bainie remarked, “it was exciting to hear about the impact of all the pro bono casework, volunteering and fundraising we’ve done as an office.”

In the afternoon, 60 Bainies took to the local community to volunteer. This year, we gave our office a choice between three volunteer activities:

  1. Sandwich run with Project 417
  2. Speed mentoring with ACCES Employment
  3. Dollars with Sense program with Junior Achievement

By the end of the day, our volunteers had collectively made and delivered 120 sandwiches to homeless individuals in the downtown core, provided career advice to 15 new immigrants, and taught basic financial literacy to five classes of seventh grade students across the city. Reflecting on her experience volunteering with Junior Achievement, one Bainie remarked, “the Dollars with Sense program was an incredible way to make an immediate impact, working directly in the classroom.  The experience reinforced the fact that we can really exert positive influence by sharing our skills and training with the kids.”

Overall, Social Impact Day 2013 was a huge success and we are looking forward to making next year’s event even bigger and better!

– Amanda, Associate Consultant and James, Consultant, Toronto

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Bain Dusseldorf and Learn Money Day: global initiative, local impact


Bain Dusseldorf  joined the 2013 Learn Money Week initiative given the great feedback for the pilot project in 2012, and Bainies in the Dusseldorf office jumped at the chance to participate in Learn Money Day for the second year in a row.

Teachers for a day: One Friday earlier this Spring, Dusseldorf Bainies entered the classrooms of two elementary schools and discussed basic financial concepts with more than 150 third grade students.  The concepts included spending, saving, investing and donating. As a teaching tool and to increase long-term effectiveness, the Bain “teachers” brought along a bright red piggy bank for each of the students to take home.

Both students and Bain teachers had an informative and memorable time.  It’s unclear  who enjoyed the morning most…The children were eager to discuss the different uses of money and had a particularly great time “designing” and “feeding” their piggy banks. For the Bain teachers, on the other hand, it was an inspiring experience with several funny, but also challenging moments (the question of which is more difficult, talking in front of 25 children or an executive board, was hotly debated afterwards).

Learn Money is an annual, global initiative that was launched in 2008 and is led by Young Global Leaders. It aims to reduce the rate of debt among youth by improving the knowledge of financial and economic topics.  During one week in March 2013, concurrent activities to increase financial literacy took place in Turkey, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Ghana, Costa Rica, Zambia, the U.S. as well as many other countries and addressed more than 27,000 young people.

Bain Dusseldorf is proud to have been a part of this global effort.  The Bain teachers will return to their classes in a few weeks to recap the concepts and have the students share their personal experiences.

– Julia, Consultant, Dusseldorf

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Advancing social ventures

Greetings from Bain London! I wanted to share two experiences I have had recently that make me especially proud of Bain’s commitment to social impact and the incredible things we can be involved in as part of our jobs: being a judge for the Hult Prize and launching our own social venture initiative.

Being a Judge for the Hult Prize 

On Saturday, March 2, five Bain leaders around the world—in London, Dubai, Shanghai, San Francisco, and Boston–were judges in the regional semifinals of the Hult Prize. The Prize, started four years ago in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, seeks to identify social ventures that tackle some of the most challenging issues facing the developing world. This year, President Clinton chose the theme of ‘hunger in urban communities’, as most NGOs and governments focus on rural food insecurity and less on hunger in slums.

Over 30 teams competed in each of the regional semifinals, and the winners of each competition, as well as the winner of an ‘online’ semifinal, are given the chance to work with social entrepreneurs in an accelerator over the summer, and come back to compete for a $1 million prize in the fall!

The ideas were fascinating. In London, they focused on two main themes. The first theme was about better ways to produce food — the regional winner, from the University of Cape Town, had developed a way to grow a full vegetable garden in a bag (!). We also saw several ideas around aquaculture, cold storage units in slums to better preserve food, and use of mobile technology to get produce to market faster. Other ideas focused more on community and education programs—for example, an idea to combine a bank with a provisions store to encourage saving whilst providing low-priced basic goods. To me the most innovative idea of the day was turning used shipping containers into community kitchens, employing women and teaching each other how to cook more nutritiously. They are currently piloting this in the Kibera neighborhood of Nairobi.

For the judges it was a great chance to meet leaders from other companies who are interested in Social Impact. In London, we had senior folks from the private sector–Google, Korn Ferry, P&G, Deutsche Bank and Ferrovial–as well as a great group of social entrepreneurs. Fiona Gately, the founder of Healthy Nation, a charity working with Jamie Oliver and the British government on school food improvements, was on my team.

But it was a very challenging day as well. We were there for nearly 12 hours and disagreed a lot as judges — some of us were looking for visionary ideas, others for lots of detail on execution, and still others for evidence of a great team. In my group, we fought quite hard for the ideas we were most passionate about (and have been helping some of the runner-up teams to sharpen their ideas for next year!) All in all, it was an exciting way to stay connected to grassroots social entrepreneurs around the world, and I look forward to doing it again.

Launching Our Own Social Venture Initiative

We had a chance to run our own social venture competition the following week in the Bain London office which was very timely.

About a year ago, a group of ACs and Consultants in London came to me with the idea to start an ‘incubator’ within the London office for early-stage social ventures that we could give some financial support to as well as some consulting help. So this year, after a huge effort by the team, we launched a pilot of the ‘Bain Incubator’.

We chose four finalists for the competition from the current cohort of social ventures at the Emerge Venture Lab at Oxford. We raised the money through a silent auction, and as part of our Winter Event charity day in December, we gave them coaching on how to do a ‘perfect pitch’. On March 8, we ran a Dragons’ Den for the ventures, where they pitched their ideas to four partners and managers, for a nominal cash prize of £5,000, but more importantly, some pro bono consulting support to help them develop their idea further over the course of the year.

The ventures included: Energy Bank, a way to future-proof energy prices through investment in renewables; Student Funder, a crowdsourcing-based way to raise money for university tuition; and Meducation, a vehicle for sharing medical information between doctors and students, and into the developing world. The winning idea was Harmonie, a cool idea which seeks to increase the western market penetration of Shea Butter moisturizer from southern Chad, and through this improve the livelihoods of the women that grow it in this challenging region.

We’re very proud of this pilot venture here in London and hope to expand it in the coming years to support even more of these great ideas. And I personally look forward to staying involved as we advance social ventures to effect change.

– Karthik, Manager, London



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Bain Partners with Teach For America – part 2

Teach For America

As part of the Teach For America case team, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with and learn from a half-dozen reform-minded school districts and Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) over the past few months.  We’ve traveled across time zones to meet with organizations that have ranged from large urban districts early in their reform journey to regional CMOs that are poised for growth – and everything in between!

During each visit, we looked to understand one overarching question:  How can organizations ensure that every school has a great school leader?

There are many ways to think about and try to address this challenge, but as a management consulting firm, Bain is in a unique position to think about this question from a talent development perspective.  Bain has done extensive work with diverse global clients on HR management and building talent pipelines.  In the last few weeks we’ve met with superintendents, principals, HR leaders, recruiting teams and CMO leaders to name a few.  Along the way, we’ve worked to identify best practices across organizations and to leverage prior Bain experiences to construct high impact recommendations that districts and CMOs can use nationwide to build better talent pipelines into the principal role.

Our next step is to wrap-up a national survey that we’re conducting in a dozen organizations nationally in order to build a fuller picture of current leadership pipelines in education.  We will then combine our on-the-ground learnings with the survey data to create our upcoming publication on the topic.

Stay tuned!

– Kendall, Consultant, New York

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