“You want to make 50 million dollars selling violent video games to kids, go for it. We’ll put you on the cover of Wired magazine. But you want to make half a million dollars trying to cure kids of malaria, and you’re considered a parasite yourself.”
This quote by Dan Palotta during his talk at TED2013 has described the charitable industry for as long as it’s existed.
But today the litindustry is evolving – social entrepreneurship is evolving. It’s rapidly breaking through the stereotypes that have been created around it over the years.
Incitement asked 12 of the brightest minds in social entrepreneurship to predict 2016 for us. Here’s what they had to say.
And what better way to kick off this list with one of the pioneers of social entrepreneurship, who even won the 2009 Award of Corporate Excellence for the way he infused business into philanthropy, and set off this (r)evolution with his One for One® model…
Blake Mycoskie is the Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS, and the person behind the idea of One for One®, a business model that helps a person in need with every product purchased.
When I started TOMS in 2006, I was responding to a crisis I saw while traveling in South America: so many children with no shoes. I had no background in fashion, but I was already a serial entrepreneur with the experience to know how to launch a new business.
TOMS and the One for One movement inspired an initial wave of corporate leaders who saw the value in improving lives through business. With our longtime mission of TOMS serving both as an innovator and incubator, just a few weeks ago we established a multimillion-dollar fund to invest in new leaders with fresh ideas.
The TOMS Social Entrepreneurship Fund aims to nurture innovative business models that create meaningful change, purpose-driven companies that unleash a groundswell of support and action, and value impact as a competitive advantage. This fund is just the latest embodiment of our ongoing commitment to cultivate a new generation of leaders.
I see other established social entrepreneurs taking this logical next step, incubating a fresh crop of innovators who want to combine profit and purpose, and trumpeting the message that consumers’ purchasing power can benefit humanity.”
Zikry Kholil is the co-founder of Incitement, a global social movement present in over 40 countries, aiming to spread positivity, promote volunteerism, and empower social causes. He is also the cofounder of Liter of Light Malaysia, a grassroot social movement aiming to eradicate energy poverty in Malaysia.
“Stakeholders will finally comprehend the fact that the new market place will be the 3.7 billion people who don’t have the needs; in other words this is the combined population of human beings who face real world problems i.e. living on a dollar a day, energy poverty communities, access to clean water, basic financial banking, sanitation, etc.
More disruptive social entrepreneurs will grow coming up with solutions that not only focus on giving the affected communities the things they need but a holistic approach to help them sustain as well i.e. access to education, the curiosity to learn new technologies and many more benefits. In other words, it becomes a 2-way street, which is the best way to grow and empower communities in playing their part.
There will be many more collaborative efforts such in the likes of Incitement and Liter of Light. Why? When more social enterprises and new age NGO’s are more aligned, there’s bound to be a grey area where they all meet and come together. To some, competition still is rampant among the social entrepreneurs which I personally believe can be good and bad, but in order to maximise impact and sustainability and to really scale, the need of co-creating abundance (sharing each others resources, expertise, network, etc) will be more paramount.
The UN can’t do this alone and they need as much as help as possible. What we will see more is how emerging grassroot initiatives like Incitement help complement what the UN can’t achieve on a grassroots basis. What could take 6 years for the UN, could take a grassroot initiative with the right formula just 6 months. We are going to see more of these emerging in 2016 and I’m adamant that this will only pave way to paint an importance of how social entrepreneurs will become the new benefactor of 2016.”
“When I think of 2016 I see a continious spectrum of reconfiguring existing systems supported by shifts in corporate behavior. Step by step, impact will get its deserved role not only in the startup paradigm but also in how business is actually done. Social impact assessment will become more sophisticated and fully integrated into organizational analysis.
The world will see developing countries as sources of social innovation more than ever. The old narrative says that when wealthier nations invest in leadership and R&D and the solutions they invent benefit the rest of the world. But the developing world is a rich environment for social innovation.
Moreover, in European context, by the end of 2016, predictions say Europe will host 3 million refugees from developing/under-developed countries. Great chance for us to re-authorize that narative and make 2016 a year of more collective actions, more cross-border and cross-sector collaborations, and a year of transforming imagination.”
Sartaj is a Parallel Entrepreneur with an unreasonable dream to positively impact 1 Billion human lives within his lifetime. He currently runs a boutique consulting firm — Egomonk, focused on Innovation and Strategy
“2016 looks to be a momentous year for humanity with the arrival of the Sustainable Development Goals and the completion of a decade long global economic recovery. It is in this context I believe that the social entrepreneurship ecosystem will go through a 3 pronged evolution –
A. Competitiveness: Social businesses will face increased competition both from strong corporate social responsibility programs as well as the nonprofit sector. This will naturally lead to a scarcity of available resources and drive other evolutionary mechanics.
B. Hyper-efficiency: Social enterprises will have to borrow startup methodologies such as the lean and agile approach to become hyper efficient in resource utilization and targeted impact so as to thrive in the new world.
C. Clustering: The social business ecosystem has always been very fragmented and this critical failure will finally be resolved through the systemic clustering of efforts, resources and organizations through deep partnerships and co-created solutions.”
“In 2016, we will see a lot of NGOs that are currently working on a purely donation model losing out to social enterprises in a big way. This is also going to affect the way corporate companies look at CSR who are more prone to absorption of corporate foundations that are financially stable using tax deductions. It’s an opportunity for MNCs to show genuine support in social projects, initiatives and programs that pushes forward a combined agenda of brand and community relations without damaging the intention in supporting the social projects.
There will also be a paradigm shift where we see me tending ways of how consumer products bought has a small percentage in it’s product that contributes to a specific social project which is a new way of donating allowing companies to play a big part in making impact ie. B1G1 (buy 1 give 1). With this new role played by companies who give a damn, this will give a huge impact to affected resources of the earth and living conditions of society that don’t have the daily needs.”
Goran Jeras is a member of the EC Expert Group on Social Entrepreneurship (GECES) and pioneering sustainable financial innovation in Croatia.
“2016 will be the year in which social entrepreneurship and social economy will start losing it’s prefix – “social”. Under that I don’t mean the decline of social entrepreneurship, but quite the contrary!
I believe that it’s the final moment in which social enterprises will need to begin its rapid transformation, from an almost exotic status in which they are not treated as serious businesses to a new paradigm of showing that this type of entrepreneurship is actually the key to the sustainable future and survival of us as humans on this planet.
Business models based on the economy-of-scale, centralized mass production of goods and huge volumes of transport of raw materials and finished goods is just not the most efficient model of economy. It’s ignoring the costs of all externalities and is not efficient from the perspective of energy utilization, waste production and social equality and fairness.
The economy of future will need to be based on the minimization of transport of physical goods, recycling of unused products, maximization of distribution of knowledge and ideas, local production, utilization and democratic management of local resources and commons and institutionalized support for weaker members of the society. The type of entrepreneurship that is able to create such an economy is social entrepreneurship, and it needs to start taking its deserved role in the society on all levels.”
Andrew Hewitt is the founder of GameChangers 500, an organization that shines the spotlight on the world’s top For-Benefit businesses.
“In 2016 terminology will shift exponentially from informal definitions such as conscious capitalism, b-corps, social enterprise, for-impact, etc to ‘for-benefit’, a term being formalized by emerging legislation.
With clear definitions and legal structures to support them, this movement to use business as a force for good will have the defining characteristics necessary to become a fourth sector of the economy, joining the existing three sectors of for-profit, non-profit, and government.”
Deborah Henry co-founded Fugee School which is a non-profit education centre for urban refugees. She is also twofold winner of Miss Malaysia Universe & World.
Fugee School was started on the premise that no child should be denied their right to basic education for any reason.
Fugee School works with the refugee community in Malaysia, and like many marginalised and discriminated groups overtime they become victims of their situation and can develop an alms for the poor mentality. We see this as a crippling factor for many people and especially for refugee children who often lack motivation and goals because they don’t have access to government services, education, and lack stability and security. But we know that all children have the potential to reach great heights, it just needs to be harnessed and developed.
Since 2009, we have worked to bring about self-awareness in each child to the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ that they possess. That they have what it takes to make it work.
We are not saying that every child must be an entrepreneur, but we believe that once a child or youth is empowered via the right education initiatives and personal development programs, they can see and seize opportunities, create their own successes and be the drivers of their future’s despite difficult circumstances. Fugee School has seen transformation from victim to victor in many students as they attempt to pave their path, overcoming hurdles as they work towards their goals. If we can cultivate this spirit in every young person we will see a generation of confident, compassionate global citizens.”
Amir A. Nasr is the formerly anonymous veteran digital activist and sociopolitical blogger behind The Sudanese Thinker, and author of the banned book My Isl@m: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind – And Doubt Freed My Soul,
“When Incitement approached me, I hesitated to provide my prediction about social entrepreneurship in 2016. After all, as a veteran digital activist turned author, speaker, and startup entrepreneur, I’m not really a social entrepreneur. Or am I?
If I am to judge on the basis of conversations with entrepreneurial friends and do-gooders in my circle, perhaps there is a shift underway.
It seems that for a while social entrepreneurship required a focus on social impact, but without financial enrichment for the social entrepreneur, lest you get accused of, you know, being a selfish greedy bastard. (Better be a poor selfless Mother Teresa instead).
As for one-word “entrepreneurship,” it entailed a focus on hopefully making massive money by solving problems in consumer markets.
These days however – unlike those producing the next fancy app to solve a #FirstWorldProblem like getting faster pizza delivery – more entrepreneurs around me, social or not, are aiming to solve real problems while intending to get rich doing it.
I say awesome. It’s time self-starved social entrepreneurs with a martyr complex rewarded themselves better, and more entrepreneurs infused their pursuits with deeper social impact. Billionaire Elon Musk, a gigantic (social) entrepreneur, anyone?Here’s to more, gigantic and “small.”
John-Son Oei is the Founder and CEO of EPIC, a multiple award winning social enterprise that designs and creates platforms focused on developing people through service experiences.
“I believe that the year 2016 will be a significant year of growth for the social entrepreneurship industry.
The last 5 years saw the emergence of many new social enterprises that went on to enter a season of discovery and experimentation. Those that survived that phase have now come out more confident and clear on how their organizations can meet the purposes in which it was set up for.
With this added clarity, we can expect more collaboration by these organizations with other social enterprises, corporate entities and NGOs within and outside its domain, especially because social issues are often multi-dimensional and the success of a social enterprise would be in effectively solving these issues.
This would define the next level of success for social enterprises while setting precedents and examples for new upcoming enterprises. I believe that the growing acceptance by mainstream society towards social enterprises would also influence more traditional corporate entities to start looking at social responsibility more seriously and not merely as a marketing exercise, causing these companies to relook at how its core competencies can make a genuine impact and ensure that purpose and profits can be more aligned.”
“From a Swedish viewpoint, or I would even say from a European perspective, the need for social entrepreneurship in 2016 and forward is urgently enlarged. The current situation with great social migration from areas of severe unrest such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and were we not yet see any end towards a peaceful solution, has put great pressure on our society. The result has been mainly negative with great repressive action.
We need urgently to find new, positive and scalable solutions. I am sure this situation will foster great social invention, as a balance to the now initial resignation. A young generation will not accept the current direction towards social insulation. ”
Doniece Sandoval is the founder of Lava Mae, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that converts transportation buses into bathrooms on wheels for the homeless.