Learning Together - Ascent Workshops

October 24, 2022
Ascent Workshop - July 2022 by Sinapis Group

Seven months since its launch, the Ascent program is already helping business owners climb to new heights. An elite program designed to launch SMEs into the next stage of growth, Ascent has four main components: mentorship, workshops, Founders’ Round Tables, and funder engagement. Over a nine-month period, with the assistance of the Ascent team and their assigned mentors work on defining thier optimal growth pathways and identifying and solutioning for growth bottlenecks. Through this work the businesses advance on investment readiness, strengthening their position to raise capital. Ascent culminates with an investor pitch day. Each cohort contains a limited number of businesses comparable in size and each with strong growth prospects and drive. The beauty of this makeup is seen firsthand in the six multi-day workshops as each business builds community both within and outside of itself.

Each participating enterprise brings its leadership team, including the CEO and 1-4 executives. The first workshop dives into the unique composition of each business team, utilizing the DISC assessment and exploring how the leaders work together. This creates the foundation as the teams launch into the rest of the workshops. The subsequent workshops cover business modeling, growth planning, processes and performance management, financial and cash flow management, and investment readiness and effective capital raise. 

The leadership team at NENDO

While the workshops follow the same structure from cohort to cohort, their design ensures that each company walks away with a distinctly personal experience. Each workshop contains a brief summary of key concepts covered in assigned pre-reading, delivered by one of the Ascent leaders.  This sets the stage for working exercises where each team is applying those concepts to their own business. Time is also provided for the teams to share the results of those exercises, allowing the group to give constructive feedback with a unique third-party perspective.

Martin Kibisu, one of the leaders of Ascent, gives an inside view into the second workshop, Business Modeling, in this pilot phase. This three-day off-site workshop was invigorating and energetic and challenging as the companies dove into their individual business models. Each team worked together to tear its business model apart, allowing them time to evaluate, refine, and crystallize the model along the way. In this intensive session, each team drove to address the fundamental questions of how do they create, deliver and capture value. Anchoring the work was a review of exactly who are their target customers, what is the unmet need being addressed, and what is the unique value proposition. In working through their business models, each team also explicitly considered what bigger impact they aim to have on their community and the lives of those they are engaged with. Teams had new insight and fresh perspective as they stepped away from day-to-day operations and could look at the bigger picture.

At the heart of the Ascent program is the desire for individual businesses to have a life-changing Kingdom impact. As Kibisu says, “Kingdom impact should form the foundation of everything you do in your business.” When this perspective is adopted, businesses can look at their value stream and see how far-reaching their ripple effect is. It becomes not just about the customer but about the entire community that feeds into and benefits from a business. In the workshop, business owners learned how every choice they make has a far-reaching impact that can change lives for the glory of the Lord.

Another distinctive aspect of Ascent is how the workshops foster community, both within the individual companies and among the greater group. Kibisu notes, “The uninterrupted time we had together in the off-site workshop afforded a chance for us to further build relationships with the businesses, and even amongst themselves.” These relationships allowed sharing personal experiences and moving towards a common goal---living out one’s faith in ways that contributes to the flourishing of others.

As the relationships grew, the owners and their teams could constructively challenge one another and provide valuable input. One example of such feedback, according to Kibisu, was an owner hearing that “what they thought was a problem and unmet need was actually not a problem, and the value that they were proposing was actually not a value.” This advice could then lead to an entire shift in a value proposition. 

The design of the workshops allows businesses to receive input from those not immersed in the daily details, who can offer fresh insight into the bigger picture. The chance to receive such constructive input from peer businesses is yet another beauty of the Ascent workshop design.

The first cohort has completed five workshops thus far and is gearing up for their final pitch day in February. Applications are currently being accepted for the next Ascent cohort. Contact Martin Kibisu at mkibisu@sinapis.org or visit https://www.sinapis.org/ascent for more information.

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