In 2005, I took a strategic decision. Much as I loved surgery, I shifted my focus to Tuberculosis, (TB). While I faced criticism and jeers from my colleagues and other NGOs, I quickly realized my next challenge. In order to deliver crucial, life changing services – TB or otherwise – one has to work with the government.
professionalization of social entrepreneurship
I recently returned from travel to India and East Africa where I attended a round table on social enterprise with the Government of India and met impact investors focused on Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda. After listening carefully to entrepreneurs, investors, and government officials, I’m compelled to say something entirely inconsistent with conventional wisdom in the world of impact investing: there is not enough capital to support the pipeline of enterprises focused on solving our most vexing social problems. By social problems, I mean the provision of basic goods and services to the bottom of the economic pyramid where governments and markets often fail.
Take access to energy for example or access to sanitation in much of Africa and South Asia. More than 1.3 billion people on the globe still lack access to electricity and over 2.5 billion lack basic sanitation. Every 20 seconds a child dies because of poor sanitation.
These are public goods and unambiguously the responsibility of public actors. But in reality, governments often don’t have the resources, the will, or the capacity to provide these basic services to many of their citizens. And purely commercial enterprises lack incentives to provide services where financial upside is limited and the ability of poor people to pay is constrained. But this is precisely where inclusive (or socially driven) businesses and social entrepreneurs, for profit and not-for-profit, are innovating and developing new business models to solve our most pressing social challenges.
We begin 2012 with an overview of key developments in social entrepreneurship in 2011. As we scan the landscape we note four key findings of 2011 as the field continues to mature. The underlying trends continue to point to the idea that everyone can be responsible for advancing change and impact. This is manifested in the way we are seeing a continued democratization of the movement, a growing emergence of a new demographic of changemakers and discovery that collaboration and peer-to-peer networks continues to be on the rise.
1. An Uptick in Blended Funding Solutions for Social Entrepreneurs
Fact: Social enterprises (SEs) simply cannot be carried by a single source of funding. They need to look at different ways of blending capital to create the largest social impact. SEs are becoming more resourceful in the way they seek funding, and some of the most successful enterprises are using a range of capital sources: seed funding and impact investments, to government grants and CSR funds.