How we Work

IDEMS has lofty ambitions as defined by its vision and mission. Previous collaborations have demonstrated the potential benefits that well constructed principles bring. Our staffing principles serve to both define and communicate a set of values and responsibilities common to our members. All our principles can offer practical guidance for decision making and we endeavour to consider them at all times.

As a community interest company we aim to work in a thoughtful and socially responsibility way as described in the following sections:

IDEMS is legally registered in the UK as a Community Interest Company. This structure enables us to be defined by the communities we serve while doing business commercially. Serving a community gives us a sense of purpose beyond our own self interest as individuals or even as a company.

The communities we serve
  • The company’s activities will be carried out for the benefit of communities related to the three main areas of the company: development, education and the mathematical sciences.
  • Development activities aim to benefit people living below the poverty line.
  • Education activities aim to benefit students across all academic levels.
  • Mathematical Science activities aim to benefit practitioners and users of the mathematical sciences.
  • It is expected that most of the company’s activities will relate to more than one of these areas.

The company aims to follow a principled approach as presented in Principles-Focused Evaluation.

The principles are intended to evolve over time and be used to help guide the company towards coherent decision making. Current company principles are:

  • Scalable Impact. This principle is central to the company vision. It pushes thinking to go beyond just finding individual solutions towards understanding how those solutions can be replicated.
  • Viral Scaling. This principle relates to how the company aims to achieve impact at scale. It can be interpreted as focusing on initiatives that have the potential spread naturally.
  • Sustainable Development. This principle touches on the desire for longevity. It forces the company to think beyond any given intervention and to always plan for continued development post-intervention.
  • Capacity Building. This principle defines the heart of company implementation. It manifests itself through the company mentor-ship programme as well as the implementation approach of specific projects.
  • Options by Context. This principle is part of core company thinking. It requires context to be considered when proposing options or interventions, in particular it precludes the search for single or blanket solutions.
  • Open by Default. This principle affects both the inputs and output of the company. It implies the need for a justification not to ‘go open’ as the default is to be open. In particular when a valid justification exists then no negative judgement is given to being ‘closed’.
  • Local Innovation. This principle is something the company believes in and wants to support. It can empower communities both for today and the future while enabling interventions to adapt.
  • Continually Evolving. This principle provides a world view for the company. It fights against complacency and stimulates innovation.
  • Systems thinking. This principle affects how the company tackles problems. It encourages building an understanding of how any company activity relates to and fits into the bigger picture.
  • All Academic Levels. This principle applies particularly to company education activities. It challenges the company to think beyond a given academic level to the full educational system.
  • Trans Disciplinary. This principle defines the role of subject experts in company activities. It forces subject experts out of their comfort zone by engaging beyond their expertise and discipline.
  • Holistic Interventions. This principle applies to company activities. It leads to an expectation that any interventions consider all angles and implications of implementation.
  • Inherently Inclusive. This principle applies to the company ethos. It builds from the founders’ appreciation of diversity and challenges the company to eliminate discrimination in all its forms.
  • Collaborative by nature. This principle forces the company to always look beyond itself. It encourages people to think beyond themselves within the company and about building partnerships for the company.
  • Enabling Opportunity. This principle describes the company’s relationship to its staff. It challenges the company to aim beyond equal opportunity by creating opportunities.
  • Consciously Ethical. This principle represents the company’s conscience. It encourages an effort to be made to think through any decision which has potential ethical implications.

Impacting grand challenges.

Grand challenges are complex development problems which are intractable to simple direct interventions, sometimes these are described as ‘wicked problems’ in international development. Based on current understanding of how to impact such challenges the company encourages the following broad approaches:

  • Accepting complexity: This excludes the possibility of looking for silver bullet solutions and quick fixes, it leads to a more multifaceted trans-disciplinary approach to interventions.
  • Building incrementally: Interventions need to be thought as steps along a path. They should, wherever possible, build from previous experience and create further opportunities.
  • Explicitly coherent: Accepting the time it takes to build solutions to such complex challenges it is essential to have clear communications of the underlying thought process and principles to enable consistency.

Mission and social mission

Working collaboratively with diverse partners to enable the evolution of innovations which can impact lives all over the world.

As a social enterprise IDEMS is also guided by its social mission. The social mission splits into three major components:

  • Development: Enabling innovations to flourish to improve quality of life.
  • Education: Impacting professional and academic outcomes of education systems even in difficult environments.
  • Mathematical Sciences: Contribute to the strengthening of the mathematical sciences both as a discipline and a tool for social change.

IDEMS staffing model aims to apply the same model to all contributors whatever their level of expertise and wherever in the world they are based.


The staffing model builds on the following principles:

  • Fundamentally profitable: As a social enterprise the Company exists primarily to fulfil its social mission. This is only possible if it is profitable enough not only to guarantee its continued existence but also to pass on profit to its designated charities.
  • Total transparency: Given the open books accounting all details of company financial will be transparent. Including staff salaries and expenditure.
  • Individual initiative: The Company aims to build a culture which supports individual initiative wherever possible. This extends beyond professional initiative to encapsulate the nature of the workplace.
  • Collective responsibility: Collective responsibility will extend beyond collaboration on projects and include collective action to support employee wellbeing.
  • Satisfying need not greed: The Company aims at recruiting and retaining staff whose primary motivations go beyond financial gain. Following our academic heritage salary packages will be benchmarked on local university scales wherever this is sensible.

Staff types

The staffing model is intended to apply equally across five major staff types:

  • Full/part time employees
  • Partner staff members (Such as AMI or Stats4 SD employees) who are subcontracted.
  • Self-employed associates
  • Interns
  • Volunteers

IDEMS does not distinguish between different types of employees in the basic staffing model. For staff types which include additional benefits such as insurance, pension contributions, personal fund, etc. these costs will be included in the cost to company (CTC) calculation.

Full and part time staff are by default benchmarked on a university scale (For the UK we are consulting the Oxford University pay scales where such a scale is seen to be appropriate.

Staffing model

The model involves a simple yearly individual breakdown for each staff member. The basic model involves calculating the individual yearly income indicator (IYII) which is income to company minus:

  • A percentage contribution to admin costs.
  • A percentage contribution to investment and social mission.

Where the percentages are approved by the board.

This is compared to the cost to Company (CTC) which is all direct and indirect cost associated to the staff member. Deductions may be made to CTC, for example a staff member who takes a sabbatical can propose to reduce their CTC with a their personal sabbatical fund will incur the relevant

The target for each staff member is simply for their IYII to match their CTC. If the IYII exceeds the CTC then the difference is denominated profit after contribution (PAC). If the company financials for the year enable it then staff who have PAC are encouraged to propose how they would like it to be distributed across the following categories:

  • Contribution to colleagues IYII
  • Contribution to employee wellbeing fund
  • Contribution to investment
  • Contribution to social mission
  • Propose a contribution to their personal fund for efficiency enhancement, capacity building or improved employee wellbeing
  • Propose a contribution to a personal sabbatical fund
  • Propose a contribution to a personal education fund
  • Propose an activity

Staff PAC proposals are to be presented to the board who will endeavour to support personal initiative and innovation while maintaining positive company culture and finances.

For staff who fail to meet their target after contributions from colleagues adjustments to their IYII may be made from the appropriate admin or investment funds where there is valid justification. It is also possible for staff to make adjustments to their IYII by reducing their cost to company.

In the exceptional event of staff who’s IYII still fail to meet the CTC even after contributions and adjustments a review by the directors is required and a case must be presented to the board for continued employment.

Flexible working environment

Whenever possible IDEMS will instil a flexible enabling working environment. This is made possible by the simple staffing model described above. The goal is to give individuals independence on each of:

  • Choice of workplace be it from an office home or even remote access while travelling.
  • Choice of working hours will wherever possible be left to the individual, not just when but also how many.
  • Choice of vacation will also be open including number of days although a minimum of 20 a year is recommended.

This extreme flexibility is intended to enable staff to manage their own productivity. The price is one of responsibility whereby staff are expected to be highly conscious and dedicated to their responsibilities ensuring that their choices do not negatively impact the company.

Personal Sabbatical fund

Staff may propose to set aside money in their personal sabbatical fund with a specific use in mind. Sabbaticals are intended to primarily contribute to the company social mission or individual professional development.

When taking a full or partial sabbatical this counts as a direct deduction from the cost to company.

Company employee welfare fund and policy

IDEMS guarantees to at least abide by the legal requirements in any country it works, however it will strive towards best practices taken from institutions across the world within its financial limitations. The company will have a separate account set aside for the employee welfare fund. This will receive income from admin funds and also from individual PAC contributions. Steps towards achieving best practice scenarios will be considered on a case by case basis, additional funds to enable such scenarios may come from personal PAC contributions.


Social enterprise

IDEMS is first and foremost a social enterprise. It was conceived to complete a sustainable trio in partnership with the NGO, African Maths Initiative (AMI), and the charity, Supporting African Maths Initiatives (SAMI). The intention is to create a sustainable virtuous cycle of collaboration whereby IDEMS generates surpluses that are donated as a mixture of restricted and unrestricted funds to SAMI. These funds will enable SAMI to grow sustainably and support impactful activities in AMI and elsewhere. AMI’s activities build the capacity of local partners and interns who will contribute to IDEMS projects. However, IDEMS has a social mission that is much broader than SAMI and AMI and supports a wider community.

Sustainable Business Model

The sustainability of IDEMS as a social enterprise comes from its profitability as a business. IDEMS has been profitable since its first year, largely through a business model centred around consultancy work. Although consultancy work will remain a core part of the business model, now that a foundation has been built, we are looking to expand the business model to public goods, such as open software, and related human and digital services, such as training and support.

IDEMS International Business Model

Although the majority of our work is usually invoiced on deliverables, we find it useful for costs to be based on calculations on daily rates which ensures that we can provide clear, consistent and transparent costings. Our rates sheet describes and explains our daily costing rates, for us and our collaborators.

IDEMS International Rates Sheet

We intend to have open accounts to ensure transparency in our activities. We publish full accounts annually alongside our annual reports. We are interested in implementing a real time open accounting model in the future.

Year 3: February 2020 – December 2020

Year 2: January 2019 – January 2020

Year 1: January 2018 – January 2019