Social Enterprise: A Source for Innovation

This is an exciting time in the world of philanthropy. Strategic philanthropy and cause branding are both widely accepted as viable business strategies for companies. With new resources and professional talent at their fingertips, nonprofits are more empowered to make a sustainable impact. Given the attention to our depleting global resources and international tragedies, Americans are also feeling a greater responsibility to take action and solve social ills. So what does this mean for us?

After attending and presenting at the 2008 Social Enterprise Conference, hosted at Harvard Business School, I felt recharged that we are at another exciting cusp of innovation. There are new synergies among big business, entrepreneurs, NGOs and government agencies that are all striving for a similar goal of a long-lasting triple bottom-line, doing good by doing well. Sure the lines amongst these three sectors are beginning to blur, but is that a bad thing when new models of positive change are being developed?

As Harvard states, “Social enterprise offers not only economic resources, but also the strategic and management expertise to ensure that change is long-lasting and large-scale.”  Topics covered during the March 2nd conference included: microfinance, innovative foundation business models, humanitarian response, enterprise solutions for poverty, climate change and international development.

It was inspiring to see leaders from the World Bank, United Nations, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Citigroup, P&G, Morgan Stanley, Timberland and others come together to talk about new approaches to working together for a shared goal. I encourage you to check out the site and to keep social enterprise models in mind when thinking about partnerships and approaches to leveraging your scale and core competencies for great good.