Help entrepreneurs raise talent, not just capital


Rachel Crawford


As a startup CEO, who to hire, promote and fire are the most important decisions you will make. The best-performing CEO’s spend more than 50% of their time on people, the worst spend less than 10%. How much time do you spend?

In a recent Village Capital report, nine out of ten CEOs consider hiring an ‘administrative’ function rather than a strategic. But raising talent is just as important as raising capital. The same survey found that entrepreneurs across the world cited talent acquisition and retention as their number one barrier to growth, easily surpassing financing.

Why do we have more ‘demo days’ and ‘business plan competitions’ than we can count to help entrepreneurs raise money, but spend almost no time helping people ‘raise talent?’

Village Capital has invested in early-stage startups in over a dozen countries, including the United States, Kenya, Mexico and India. One thing we’ve discovered: organizations that support entrepreneurs in emerging markets – for instance, accelerators and incubators – have a similar blind spot around talent. They are more concerned with helping startup founders raise capital than helping those founders find and cultivate top talent.

There are a few ways that entrepreneur support organizations can improve talent hiring:

  • Curricular sessions on hiring. Entrepreneur support organizations should teach ventures how to not only select the best candidates for a position, but also to anticipate hiring needs ahead of time, and cultivate talent over the long term.Because of the case-by-case nature of business needs, this would ideally be in person as part of a broader program. Village Capital has developed an open-source resource centre for companies for specifically this purpose : to help entrepreneurs make better decisions before and after hiring.
  • Activities focused on jobseekers, not just investors. In addition to demo days, support organizations, for example, run job fairs for their ventures. They should be focused on helping ventures find job candidates as well as connecting them with investors.
  • Review materials around talent. Support organizations spend a lot of time reviewing pitch decks and written materials around fundraising, but not a lot of time reviewing job descriptions. Any entrepreneur that goes through a venture development program should leave knowing how to write a job description.

For our part, Village Capital is committed to helping entrepreneurs in emerging markets raise talent. We are partnering with the ANDE/Argidius Talent Challenge to develop a comprehensive talent roadmap for small and growing businesses, particularly in emerging markets.

To see our initiatives in supporting SGBs to raise talent and to get involved, click here.

Raising talent is just as important as raising capital, and we all need to do our part to help entrepreneurs with their human capital challenges.

Rachel Crawford is a Portfolio Programme Manager for Village Capital.

This post is part of a talent project led by the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network (GSEN, founded by UnLtd) and supported by the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt. The project aims to shed light on challenges and solutions related to the attraction, development, and retention of talent within entrepreneur support organizations.

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