Thanks to BPN, BSI CRM speaks Russian, Mongolian, Spanish – and English in any case
For 20 years, Business Professionals Network, headquartered in Bern, has supported small businesses in developing countries such as Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Rwanda. The aim is to promote the local economy, specifically with knowhow transfers, through training and coaching as well as credits for scaling, together with an entrepreneurial network. Among their customers, besides the donors and corporate sponsors, are the 1,265 sponsored entrepreneurs, who have meanwhile created 23,335 jobs.
BPN is quite an extraordinary and special customer for BSI: our software is used as a purely configurative cloud solution in all five BPN countries, as well as in Switzerland – and besides English, the foundation’s common language, also speaks Russian, Mongolian and Spanish. Max Bertschmann, Executive Board Member and Head of Marketing and Fundraising at BPN, explains in the following interview why it is not at all surprising that a globally active non-profit organization has chosen BSI CRM.
BPN chose BSI as its CRM partner. In which areas are you using BSI CRM?
BPN consists of two areas: the organization in Switzerland, where the management of the organization and fundraising take place and the country organizations. We support a total of five countries with our core services on site according to our proven Four-Pillar-Principle: coaching, training and the educating of small-scale entrepreneurs, particularly in business management subjects, as well as the granting of credits geared to investments, along with a business association that facilitates networks among the entrepreneurs. We provide these services in five countries, which requires effective and efficient fundraising.
The funds are used to finance, among other things, courses in developing countries and knowledge-holders who share their expertise locally in courses and seminars. What does an average day in the life of a BPN team member in Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Georgia or Nicaragua look like?
Very diverse! We advise and coach in order to advance entrepreneurs and their companies – like a business consultation with a charitable background. These customer relationships must be mapped, including their history. This is relevant when it comes to measuring our effectiveness. The entrepreneurial program runs from two to four years – a long time. We seek to measure how the company develops in this period, how many jobs it creates and what impact we have, directly or indirectly on it. This means that a lot of information is compiled. In the future, it will flow into BSI CRM.
Who uses BSI CRM and what benefits do they anticipate?
BSI CRM is used by fundraisers in Switzerland, on the one hand, and our staff in the country organizations, on the other. The added value for us in management is that we have combined all customer and donor data on a single platform. Without our activities in the countries, there is no justification for fundraising, and without our fundraising the countries cannot fulfill their mission. We must ensure the flow of information. Only in this way can we, for example, provide information to a corporate sponsor here in Switzerland about the progress of their company in Rwanda. This can only function efficiently and error-free if everyone can work together on a single platform to the greatest extent possible.
The second user group includes the country managers and coaches. They should clearly reap added value through the use of BSI CRM. It should support them in their daily work by bringing together processes and tasks, which have till now been very time consuming, because the information was spread across various sources and media and first had to be consolidated. This means that, in the future, repetitive manual tasks can be automated or handled far more quickly.
Who are your customers and to what degree do they profit from the use of CRM?
Our customers in Switzerland are primarily donors. In the individual countries, our customers are people who are entrepreneurs or who seek to become successful in business. Donors will profit from a more rapid reaction time. Since we know their donor behavior and history, we can better approach them personally and individually than we were able to in the past. We can refer to our relationship in communications. We are all being flooded with information. Our job is to protect our donors from superfluous information and to only convey to them relevant contents in the proper periodicity. BSI CRM helps us determine which donor to approach with which topics and when – and that without manual effort. The picture that thus arises helps us to look after our customers significantly better.
Will the entrepreneurs in the countries also profit from BSI CRM?
I very much hope so! BSI CRM should not only be beneficial for us internally, but primarily for our customers in the countries. Our staff and coaches will experience the benefits with a central tool in which their relationships and communications can be entered and managed centrally, providing them an overview of their history.
BPN was founded 20 years ago. Did you previously use a CRM solution?
We used to work with Mindmap. The focus there was on the entrepreneur. Our processes for promoting entrepreneurs were depicted as a branch. Behind each branch, tasks were listed chronologically, from the first contact through selection, and on to the business plan, training and feedback. That was ingenious in concept, but also very limiting, because the knowledge about the entrepreneur only remained with the entrepreneur, meaning that the information was not linked together. It was not possible to see which five entrepreneurs took part in the same seminar; this information was spread among the five different entrepreneurs. It took a great deal of manual effort to get the information, with the potential for error. We have KPIs and goals that we seek to meet. We came up against our limits with the old system.
Why did you choose BSI CRM?
We looked for a CRM system that was able to map both the fundraising and the commercial business. These are two completely different worlds. It was a major challenge to bring them together. I knew BSI from earlier projects. Besides BSI, we also wrote to 10 other vendors, very well-known names among them. Three ultimately made the short list. One of these was BSI. On the one hand, BSI reacted very quickly, which is something I really appreciated.
Moreover, BSI really engaged with us, answered every single requirement in the specification and was able to meet them in the standard solution. In the end, it was clear: BSI is our CRM partner.
There are various reasons for this: We are active in six countries, which meant it had to be a Web solution. The fact that BSI is a Swiss company was even better, because it was important to us that the data is stored in Switzerland or the EU and that we can ensure data protection standards. Besides the cloud solution, usability was a priority for us. We sought a system that is intuitive and user-friendly. Ultimately, the eye also plays a role, and while attractiveness was not a criteria, BSI CRM looks nice! Some of the bells and whistles show that the people behind them are passionate about what they do. And last, but not least: We are a non-profit. We do not have a large budget. The price-performance ratio had to be right. If each user can save an hour per month, then the license costs for the option we have chosen will have been covered. BSI was the most economical solution. That was decisive for us.
What goals have you set for yourself with BSI CRM?
Satisfied donors, satisfied customers and, most of all, satisfied users who see the benefits of a simplified workday so that they are happy to open the CRM and use it as a central tool on a daily basis.
Besides Switzerland, you are active in five countries. Additional countries are planned. Will BSI CRM be made available in English as a standard, or also in the respective national languages?
We use BSI CRM in Russian, Mongolian, Spanish and English. All shared activities take place in English, while the respective coaches and seminar leaders shall be able to communicate in their local language. This will also motivate people to use it.
Will BSI CRM also be used to measure effectiveness?
Definitely! BSI CRM will be an important source for data collection in the future. We are aware that BSI CRM is not a reporting tool, but it does supply us with consistent data, which we can process, map and interpret.
You have accomplished impressive growth in the past 20 years, supported 1,265 entrepreneurs, created 23,335 jobs and conducted 1,459 seminars and workshops. What are your plans for the future?
Like anyone else, we too have the potential to become even better. We have correspondingly set the goal to grow qualitatively in the next three to five years, and as a result also quantitatively, so as to strengthen our impact. We can manage this if we become even better known. We are doing something good and must spread the word around the world so that people find out about it.
That is where we are happy to be of assistance! At BSI we are very impressed by your commitment and very proud to support BPN as our customer. What do you appreciate about working together with BSI?
I appreciate the relaxed, yet highly professional approach. We are treated as customers, listened to, taken seriously so that a solution is found. I also appreciate the system’s configuration possibilities. And: we enjoy coming together to spend an interesting day together. In the end, we all celebrate together when a goal is reached. There is real interest within the team. That motivates us.