Abridged excerpt from book “51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship“
Why does social impact matter ?
The world is changing, and everywhere we look there seems to be a call to action.
Population Approaching 8 Billion People
On the horizon, we can see a world population that will reach eight billion people in the next decade—double what it was just fifty years prior.
Are We Ready?
Climate change, which has been recognized as a global concern by institutions ranging from the EPA to the Papacy, threatens with extreme weather patterns as well as a rise in sea level and impact on existing species.
Wealth inequity has a new definition as half of the world’s wealth is now owned by less than 1% of the global population, and we live in a time in which nearly 3 billion people struggle to survive on less than $2 a day and nearly 1 billion people don’t have enough food to eat. We live in a time in which girls globally are not afforded the same access to education, with 33 million fewer girls than boys attending middle school around the world.
The New Problem-Solvers
We also live in a moment, when we have ready problem solvers and incredible advances in technology that let us imagine impact not in magnitudes of hundreds of lives improved, but in magnitudes of billions. We are in a moment in which our workforce is changing, and so are their values.
Business and Law for Social Impact
As of the end of 2015, over 30 states or jurisdictions in the US have passed some form of social enterprise legal structure, with nearly 3,000 companies choosing to adopt these new legal structures. Additionally, companies including Rally Software and Etsy that have aligned with the social enterprise movement through pursuing a “B corporation” certification have had an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Others, such as Laureate Education, have chosen to convert to a benefit corporation and also file an IPO.
Yin and Yang Forces
As we stand at the edge of how things have always been done and how they can be done, we can see divergent but complementary forces: the pressing issues that affect our generation and most definitely will affect future generations and the intelligent, engaged, motivated army of problem solvers ready to do something about it.
Redefining Business to Include Social Impact
While the evolution of social entrepreneurship to this point has seen the carving out of a new kind of business and a vocabulary to define terms in this emerging space, the urgent need for leadership and innovation has the potential to be met by the most driven, largest, and most cross-functional social innovators and social entrepreneurs the world has ever known.
There is the potential to work beyond subjects of entrepreneurship and focus on redefining the future of business as a whole and to consider impact as a norm. There is the possibility of broadening the reach of social entrepreneurship by absorbing its core attributes into the character of business itself. Instead of being “social entrepreneurship,” the values of measuring, reporting, and expanding impact could become part of the way we understand, assess, and measure the success of industries across the board—making it part of “business as usual.”
How Can We Reach Our Collective Impact Potential
This massive potential—this meeting of what we need and what we are capable of giving, of limitless possibility and urgent problems, of compounding concerns and creative and committed problem solvers—to me encapsulates the essence of why social entrepreneurship matters. I have no doubt that it has the ability to not only transform our lives individually, but to collectively change the world.
This is an abridged excerpt from the book, “51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship” by Neetal Parekh. You can learn more and buy the entire book—which is told as a story of three aspiring social entrepreneurs and which dives into key aspects of social entrepreneurship including defining the space, legal structures, securing funding, and measuring impact at 51questions.com