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A Pitch, a Canvas and a Plan: Bringing Business Thinking to Social Entrepreneurs

The elevator pitch: the shortest-seeming thirty-to-sixty-second-ride ever! When mastered, it becomes the quintessential vehicle for sharing a dream, collaboration and investment.

This technique was employed over two days, March 23-24 in Rabat, during which HAF team members Safae Lacheheb (Volunteer) and Jacqueline Seeley (Director of Development) worked with a group of Moroccan entrepreneurs to build capacity and efficiency into their startup launches.

The HAF team focused on its social enterprise, HA3, whereby HAF aims to empower rural Moroccan communities to deliver quality organic fruit products to the international market at competitive prices, simultaneously improving their own livelihoods.  Other startups included an organic vegetable seed farm, a healthy school initiative, a restaurant teaching cookery skills to women and a Moroccan artisanal handicrafts cooperative.

Coordinated by Legacy International Ventures, the workshop aims to train social venture entrepreneurs and guide businesses in the art of creating corporate shared value. This goes beyond the standard ‘corporate social responsibility’ which often looks at an impact and added value as a rule or requirement dictated by the investor that must be upheld by the investee. Corporate shared value, on the other hand, brings social and economic profit to both parties, because the agenda is internally driven and the impact is jointly created.

For these ideas, it all starts with a great pitch – but what does this entail?

1.  Engage the person – ask them – in a clever way – if you may have a moment of their time

2.  Relieve the ‘pain’ of the person (why would them listening to you be of benefit to them)

3.  Provide added value – offer something to the target group

4.  Be memorable, build trust and confidence

5.  Provide a hook – an open-ended starter to assess interest

6.  Close with a call to action – request the next step (meeting / call, offer business card)

These steps may appear easy at first glance but the challenge became apparent when trying to complete the process in only 30-60 seconds, all the while maintaining the essential component, namely complete and utter clarity with regard to the idea and mission and in terms of verbal delivery!

This is what the HAF/HA3 pitch looks like (try it with a stopwatch if you like!):

“Hello, have you considered where your last meal came from?” 


“Wonderful! Well, if I may have a few moments of your time, I’d like to tell you about the High Atlas Foundation and the organic venture on which we’re embarking.”

“Sure, go ahead!”

“Thank you. At the High Atlas Foundation we’re aiming to become a leading broker in terms of organic Moroccan fruit and plant products. 

Through a unique, non-profit and social enterprise partnership, we’re building organic food production lines, developing nurseries, orchards and processing facilities and then exporting the product for sale. 

We’ve pioneered organic walnut production in Morocco with the first processing facility for the product in the Kingdom – and we’re opening new markets and opportunities for both producers and consumers.

I would greatly appreciate if we could schedule five to ten minutes of your time tomorrow to discuss this further.  Here is my business card.” 

There are many opportunities out there for you to launch your ideas and solicit others for engagement, investment, cooperation and support. Defining the essence of your mission allows you to store it in your memory with ease, ready for use when needed.

After the Legacy Experts had provided honest, critical feedback for each of the teams, work began on the skeleton of a venture – the Lean Canvas. This utilizes diagrams, key ideas and precise, bullet-point language to describe the needs and problems your venture addresses. The section headlines, each incorporating no more than three subsidiary concepts are: Customers, Problems, Solutions, Unique Value, Unfair Advantage, Channels, Metrics, Revenue Streams and Cost Structure.

This tool allows you to describe your venture to investors in two to five minutes, enabling them to visualize and dream with you, towards your goal. You can learn more about how to fill in a Lean Canvas here

After successfully hooking an investor by employing the elevator pitch and developing their interest through the Lean Canvas, they will want to know how you intend to implement your vision.  This is elaborated upon in the business plan and financial projections, which details how your venture brings value to each aspect of the product or service. When writing, ‘less is more’ is the rule – the business plan should be clear and concise so that an investor can obtain all the information they need with speed and ease.

Now over to you – with these guidelines and a little bit of determination, you can take the first steps to launching a startup and bringing your vision to fruition. Stay motivated and good luck!

The Legacy International Ventures is a social enterprise of Legacy International meant to support and foster the entrepreneur spirit and assist start-ups with both towards a shared social impact and value. HAF and Legacy Internationalcame together in 2015  following the selection of Safae for participation in their Professional Fellows Program. You can read more about Safae’s experience here.

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