Bram Lavens

Bram Lavens

http://180dc.org/branch/ghent/

No PovertyNo HungerGood HealthQuality EducationGender EqualityClean water and sanitationRenewable EnergyGood jobsInnovation and InfrastructureReduced InequalitiesSustainable Cities and CommunitiesResponsible ConsumptionClimate ActionLife Below WaterLife on landPeace and Justice

Role

Co-founder and  president of 180 Degrees Consulting Ghent

Quote

"I believe that NGOs should work more similar to profit organizations."

Who are you?

As a business-engineering student, I always try to make or do things more efficient, effective and lean. The concept of 180 Degrees Consulting fits perfectly in this vision. As co-founder and current president of the Ghent branch I try, together with my team, to engage young high potentials in the transition of NGOs towards more efficient and effective ones. The reason behind 180 Degrees Consulting, a concept started in Australia in 2007, is that we all believe that donating money to NGOs is a good thing, but making those NGOs more sustainable and efficient by giving them good recommendations, is even better. One of my main drivers is the fact that I believe that NGOs should work more similar to profit organizations. I think too little NGOs do so. If NGOs can create a profit center within their social purpose, than they can use the profit they get from their service/expertise/product… to support less profitable or even loss-making projects within their social goal. We provide those NGOs with high potential students, with a clear interest in consulting. We change NGOs but also the mindset of our consultants, both resulting in a more sustainable world.

Why are you part of Generation T?

I do not fix my mind on a particular sustainability goal. What I do is thinking about and rethinking how we do, and how we will do things. E.g. If someone comes to me with a new idea for a social organization I will not definitely encourage that person to pursue his/her organization. The goal can be good but the way we try to achieve that goal is also important. We are not doing a good job giving money to organization A if organization B is serving quite the same goal but more efficient. To give an example, I will take the example Nat Ware (founder of 180 Degrees Consulting), uses in his TEDX (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK3qAJYWRtA), if we can cure more people from blindness with certain surgery, than why would we keep on spending money on training guide dogs?I am thinking about that kind of questions; it is important that we question existing organizations and projects as well as new ones. 

A specific example on how your project or activities make a difference and initiate change:

We really have to think through our social sector. Questions that concern me are e.g. why are there so little mergers in the social sector? Why do we see a lot of M&A in the profit sector but not in the social sector?  Why are there no NGOs around at job fairs like the one of the VEK, VTK etc.?  How can they recruit and retain high potential students? I start form a profit organization point of view. And I believe that is something that can be very useful in the battle for a more sustainable society. I have met people with little or no interest in the social sector that really turned around when they worked for a client. So even if we were only able to change the mindset of our consultants to a more sustainable one, to a more social aware mindset, even then I am convinced that 180 Degrees Consulting is taking part in making the world a better and more sustainable place.