Careers Portal

Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Bertha Centre


ScaleShift is a Cape Town-based community of inquiry and practice exploring new ways of scaling social innovation. We are interested in conversation, research, and action. We are interested in the relationship between micro-change and macro-change. And we are interested in expanding current paradigms of social innovation and in discovering fresh paradigms. ScaleShift includes researchers and practitioners from all areas of the social innovation space.


People engaged in social change work have been calling for deeper inquiry into the challenge of scaling social innovation.

Despite increased attention, however, the conversation around scale has remained narrow, focusing primarily on organizational expansion and program replication. While this approach can be effective, it has two major drawbacks. First, it can obscure what made a local program successful in the first place. Program structure may be less important than cultures, relationships, mindsets, and values. Second, it may ignore significant local differences. Without meaningful local participation and flexibility, programs may never develop realistic, sustainable versions of themselves in new settings.


The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation at the UCT Graduate School of Business is interested in exploring a more adaptive approach, one that considers organizational cultures and contexts more fully. What if, in addition to scaling programs, we also studied and experimented with:

  • Scaling relationships
  • Scaling experiences
  • Scaling cultures
  • Scaling questions instead of answers
  • Participatory scaling (e.g., service providers and recipients working on scale together or end users/clients in one place helping to scale to another)
  • Internal scaling (going deeper rather than wider)
  • De-scaling


ScaleShift meetings take a variety of forms, from “ScaleHacks” focused on a specific organization to “Scale Salons” focused on a particular dialogue topic to Open Spaces where people self-organize around themes of their own choosing. We are open to any question or approach that challenges and expands our current understanding of scale. Feel free to suggest meeting ideas/formats.


If you are . . .

  • A social change practitioner currently involved in or considering scaling your work
  • An academic interested in exploring the relationship between local social innovation and large-scale system transformation
  • A facilitator, consultant, or funder supporting social purpose organizations and projects

. . . we would love to have you join us. Please note that we define social change work and social purpose organizations very broadly to include nonprofits, businesses with a social focus, government agencies, formal or informal networks, social movements, and anything in between.


ScaleShift meets on the third Tuesday of every month in the Solution Space at the Graduate School of Business.


If you would like to be added to the ScaleShift mailing list, please email Warren Nilsson

You are also welcome to join the ScaleShift group on Facebook for updates and upcoming meeting