Our approach

Our goal is rooted in an understanding of the ecological limits to economic activity, not as a fixed thing, but as a complex, dynamic system which economics must operate within, and continually adapt to, for society to remain productive.

We focus on four things to deliver our goal:

  1. The systems dynamic models and scenarios that help decision makers to integrate complex ecology into economic policy and business, and to understand how conventional notions of economic efficiency need to change to sustain productivity in the land-use, marine, and energy sectors. Outcomes include the radical re-design of regulation, licensing and industrial systems.
  2. The productive structures that make it possible to continually generate surpluses within the boundaries of ecological systems, and to distribute them fairly. These structures include new forms land and resource tenure, in combination with technology and reforms to finance, public investment, pricing and terms of trade. They also include the social arrangements needed to deliver these at different levels.
  3. The financing and business models that best complement these reforms, including  intermediaries, processors and aggregators co-owned by producers. Creating alternative value propositions that value all aspects of production and the systems that support it. Formulating business models to account for sustainable rates of return, while using ownership structures that align investor interests with the interests of social and environmental resilience.
  4. The change agents who drive innovation in government, industry and local communities. People with the curiosity to investigate the conditions or structures that affect their lives, businesses and work, the capacity to think unconventionally, and the personal motivation to propose, test and defend alternatives.

Our creative tools

Seventythree invests heavily in our sources, methods and tools for analysis, business development and process facilitation, and we keep them under constant review.

Systems dynamics and bio-economic modeling

First, we take a fresh, deeper look at the system and sector and think through current economic policy. We focus on the more obscure aspects, such as the underlying assumptions and wider impacts. We build a solid base of evidence, apply advanced analysis and modelling techniques, and synthesise disjointed pieces of knowledge to support this exercise. Next, we use these results to facilitate a scenario building exercise with local experts and policy makers (in the relevant sector), with a view of illuminating hidden aspects of the status-quo and developing alternative policy scenarios.

Business development

However small or large the business, and however unconventional its ownership structure, there are some basic principles that ensure the business will be sustainable. In advising SMEs and community enterprises, we do not patronise them with over-simplified models, or imply that economic reality does not apply to them. Instead we use the same tools are are used by some of the world’s most dynamic companies, such as the Business Model Canvas. We mentor businesses so that they can acquire the same skillset as larger competitors, and have the tools to meet the business challenge head on.  For community businesses, mentoring does not focus only on technical skills, it also encompass the organisational strengthening that can help communities develop resilience. This is more effective than providing safety nets that attempt to shield the enterprises from failure.

Adult learning

We use a range of adult and popular education methods to facilitate dialogue and nurture change agents. These methods have their root in the work of Brazilian popular educator Paulo Friere and draw on decades of practice by the African network Training for Transformation and the Swedish cooperative movement. Together with Training for Transformation, we are investing in new curricula and additional tools for work with communities and government, and to blend them with practical skills training in areas such as business development.