ESADE Business School Barcelona
FUTUR was a small nonprofit founded in 1996 in Barcelona to provide labor and social inclusion opportunities for excluded individuals, including people who have completed their terms in prison, single mothers with no income, homeless individuals, drug and alcohol addicts, as well as immigrants who had recently arrived in Barcelona from Latin America and Northern Africa.
Futur’s job opportunities for excluded groups had changed over time. It started working in the textile industry, later changing its focus to food services, concentrating on ecological and fair-trade products offered at three restaurants and a catering service. More recently, it has successfully expanded its operations to school cafeterias –starting off with four, increasing to eight over the following school year and projecting a total of 12 school cafeterias for the coming year. Its latest project –still under study- involves selling organic, fair-trade products on the streets with salespeople on bicycles.
Additionally, the organization needed to find a new venue equipped with an industrial kitchen, as it had to move from the building it was renting at a symbolical price. With so many initiatives underway, Manuel Almirall pondered the pros and cons of diversification for an organization like Futur and whether it should concentrate on a single venture. Specifically, he wondered what strategy would be more effective to accomplish the organization’s mission while growing in a sustainable fashion and facing the new challenge entailed by moving the central kitchen that supported its restaurants and catering services.
This case may be used to encourage class participants to discuss economic feasibility for social projects, analyzing sustainability and its fit with organizations’ missions. Specifically, this case provides an example to consider the development of business portfolios, discussing whether individual ventures contribute to value creation and mission accomplishment. At the same time, it leads students to reflect on the key factors to be taken into account in order to ensure portfolio success.