Virgin Unite and Entrepreneurs’ Organisation work together to inspire, showcase, and connect entrepreneurs who are changing the world of business for good.
Our most recent collaboration set out to unearth the world’s most exciting, socially-minded entrepreneurs – the business leaders who through mentorship and impact-driven business models are creating change and embodying the ‘business for good’ ethos.
Applications for the program closed earlier this year and we are proud to announce the winner of the program as David Gatchell, Founder & President of Fellgroup.
Fellgroup is a global engineering & construction organisation, committed to doing great work, on time, every time. And whilst this alone is impressive, the more we’ve learnt about Fellgroup, their mission, and their commitment to improving lives, the more inspired and impressed we’ve become.
Below we share a taste of what makes Fellgroup so incredible, and talk to David about how adopting a ‘business for good’ mentality has propelled both himself and his business forward.
A quick note about Fellgroup…
Fellgroup is working to improve lives through sustainable development, and have set themselves a ‘Massive Transformative Purpose’ (MTP) to enhance the wellbeing of people worldwide through sustainable infrastructure and through empowering communities where they work. Their overarching, audacious goal is to positively impact a billion people by the year 2040.
As this mission suggests, championing business as a force for good is central to how David works, and below he shares how this approach has positively impacted both himself, as an entrepreneur, and the success of his business.
How has using your business for good impacted your company?
I’ve built Fellgroup with social impact as a key principle since inception. In fact, when I started, the focus was working with local construction contractors in Afghanistan, assisting to elevate their performance and marketability and helping grow their businesses. The goal was to build capacity within the communities where projects were being implemented, as opposed to importing all labour and other resources. By working together we offered local knowledge, experience and pricing with comparable overall value to that of well renowned international firms.
This turned out to be a winning combination for all involved, as we performed multiple successful projects, received strong performance reviews from our clients, and maintained profitability. More recently we have pivoted our attention to Africa and currently have multiple projects ongoing in more than a half dozen countries.
I wanted to use my experience to do good work globally with an end goal of helping people improve their lives.
Our focus is IMPACT and we have committed to measure the impact we’re actually having. Using our Impact planning process and metrics we estimate that since inception we have had a positive impact on more than 146,000 people worldwide. Having a goal such as this motivates and drives the team and we’ve seen a strong increase in retention in the few years since identifying what specifically we’re passionate about and what differentiates us from countless other firms in the same space. Our team is small, impactful, and we’re growing a community. Loving what we do and enjoying the work environment makes coming to work every morning something to look forward to.
How has using your business for good impacted you personally?
My entrepreneurial intentions grew out of my deep desire to do good in the world. Starting as a boy in high school I had the opportunity, thanks to my parents, to work on teams building low income housing just across the border in Mexico.
More recently I’ve been fortunate to work with refugees in Central Asia and local communities throughout East and West Africa. What started as great experiences has morphed into my own business and I am blessed that I can make a living doing what I love and making a positive impact on the world. I take great pride in the projects we have done around the world, but even more important are the people I’ve had the pleasure with whom to work. I am who I am today as a result of those early experiences. I remember back to 2006 when I started down this path. Initially my goal was simply to support myself without having to work for someone else. Once I proved that I could do this I looked further to grow a profitable business.
I was fortunate early on that we had some contractual successes and were able to earn a solid profit; however my immaturities as an entrepreneur lead me to take the proceeds instead of investing in and growing the business. I didn’t really know what I was doing and without clear focus I got bored. Boredom and I don’t get along!
A couple years later I finally identified what it was that I was passionate about. I wanted to use my experience to do good work globally with an end goal of helping people improve their lives. Using this as a starting point I was able to get back on top of the business that had been floundering, regain our footing, and plot a course into the future that motivated and inspired me, and offered personal fulfilment to those with whom we worked.
David will be attending the Global Leadership Conference (GLC) in Frankfurt this weekend to receive his ‘Changing Business for Good’ winners’ award. To learn more about the GLC visit their website and follow the coversation on their Facebook page.