Smart Scaling Means Forgetting Your Ego - Hello Accelerator Second Round


How do you solve big social challenges like migration and refugee integration? The second round of our Hello Accelerator, Zalando's program for migration projects, helped address this very question.

One approach is to come up with innovative solutions. But finding these takes time and resources, and once they are found, the learning curve is long until pilots are ready to scale. A less glamourous but more humble approach is to look for best practices elsewhere. While you may not get to claim the brilliant idea as your own, the solution transfer can be rapid and the challenge can be tackled more effectively. The truth is, many look for new ideas but few programs support the scaling of positive social impact.

This is the essence of our Hello Accelerator, in partnership with Ashoka and Boehringer Ingelheim: Not reinventing the wheel, but helping good solutions for migrations to scale. The beginning of May saw the second round of workshops for our ten project teams. All of them represent refugee integration solutions that have worked elsewhere in the world, bringing them to Germany instead of reinventing the wheel. Our joint-journey started in March 2016 with the Hello Festival and the aim of the accelerator is to provide teams with expertise and networks to scale smart.

Growing project organizations is not smart

One of the essential lessons of the workshop was that growing your project organization in terms of people and money is tedious and risky, let alone slow. Scaling impact and contributing to solving a societal challenge as big as refugee integration requires smart networks. Instead of building all the expertise in your project team, look around to see who you can partner with. For example, the project Saving Buddies, an initiative promoting economic integration of refugees through self-funded communities, found synergies with Singa Ideas in Motion, a business accelerator for refugees who need funding and may not find it in the finance sector. That’s smart.

If you want to travel far, travel together

We want to apply the same principle of smart networks to the Hello Accelerator program itself. So on the second day of the meeting in May, we invited twenty other company representatives from the Wir Zusammen Network which included DHL, H&M, Allianz, Beiersdorf, UPS, and more. They met our project teams and were invited to join the Hello Team. We look forward to a fruitful partnership.