1 December, 2015 Social Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship: The New World Order
s the terms “Social Innovation” and “Social Entrepreneurs” become part of the global media lexicon, it is important to note there have always been innovators and there have always been entrepreneurs. “Disruption” is the order of the day, and economies are realising the value of supporting entrepreneurs and their innovations.
Enter Social Entrepreneurs, those who not only innovate in a personally sustainable manner – that is, they earn a living from their innovations – but also create solutions that are accessible and life-changing.
“When we speak of ‘capitalism with a conscience’, we speak of a new world order of pioneers,” says Ali Gregg, CEO of The CEO SleepOut™, rated the most successful fund-raising event ever held in South Africa. “More and more, we see the rise of ordinary people making extraordinary changes; breaking the mould of ‘it’s always been done this way’ and finding new ways to do things that benefit the most vulnerable communities.”
Gregg believes the adage “shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic didn’t stop it from sinking” is a cornerstone to changing the way charities, NGOs, NPOs and other non-profit organisations can conduct their business. “And it is a business,” she says. “While the ultimate beneficiaries are the homeless, vulnerable and needy, instead of board members and shareholders, the business of charitable initiatives needs to stop rearranging the deck chairs and learn how to navigate the icebergs.”
When setting up The CEO SleepOut™ in South Africa, based on the original idea by Bernard Fehon, the Australian founder who is now a patron of The CEO SleepOut™ Trust, Gregg faced both criticism and applause for the way in which she went about creating an event that ultimately resulted in R26.4-million donated to Girls & Boys Town (GBT).
We note with gratitude all supporters who, in spite of the official closing of the project for auditing purposes on 18 July 2015, were still donating funds from various quarters.
There will always be detractors and supporters when it comes to change, Gregg says. “This is understandable when people are used to doing things a certain way. With social innovation on the rise, though, all of us are going to have to be agile enough to move with massive changes in all areas of life. I believe The CEO SleepOut™ can be the start of not merely shifting the deck chairs, but creating sustainable relationships with corporates to ensure longevity of support for the cause of homelessness and vulnerable children.”
Global philanthropy has changed how causes are funded, and community foundations are growing around the world. According to the Chivas report Redefining Success in a Changing World, people are more connected to each other, thanks to technology which makes the furthest distance between two points the same as the closest distance at the click of a mouse. “Gen X-ers (born 1964-1980) and Gen Y-ers (born 1981-2000) will inherit US$40-trillion of wealth over the next decade, and appear eager to see more philanthropic innovation and entrepreneurial risk-taking when it comes to social problem-solving,” the report says.
Gregg says a new generation of business leaders are seeing that capitalism can be a force for good, providing there is “conscience behind it”.
Social Innovation: Different vs. Better
Many people have changed the world, but the social pioneers today are people who will join the ranks of those who have changed it for the better. “In bringing together business leaders, The CEO SleepOut™ gathered the very people who are in a position to change the world. Their circle of influence enables them to reach others in the same position and create the ripple effect of giving.
“The CEO SleepOut™ not only saw these leaders open their wallets, but their hearts too. The effect of taking part in an activity that enabled each one to feel what it may be like to sleep on the streets in mid-winter was enormous. It generated a genuine compassion and empathy for those who have no choice,” says Gregg.
“This is the way philanthropy is growing across the globe – allowing people to participate with more than an electronic funds transfer (EFT). Social entrepreneurs are making it possible for each of us to identify with others in a way we never could before. Innovations that incorporate empathy are the ones that will stay with the individuals who participate, and create a lifetime understanding of why they support the causes they do, and spread the wealth where they can.”
Global Disruption: Social Is The New Corporate
TheVenture.com is a website created by Chivas . It was created to “inspire, discover and reward those who believe that business can be a force for good”. Filled with articles that will inspire any social entrepreneur or corporate business to explore the many ways of implementing capitalism with a conscience, the site also enables a new generation of social entrepreneurs to create positive change through funding opportunities.
According to TheVenture: “In a world where the rich are getting richer, it’s more imperative than ever for companies to embrace inclusion and broaden the reach of their prosperity.” It suggests Inclusive Capitalism as a solution to economic disparity, and suggests that a new generation of leaders are entering the business world “with a social mission front of mind and valuing human capital”.
From innovative tractors that can be used by small-scale farmers to the “Advocacy Through Industry” model, it is “a revolutionary way to harness the power of business to create social change by co-creating products directly with manufacturers and producers to empower craft communities worldwide”.
Disruption Down South: Making History In South Africa
With little history in social disruption so far, South Africa is a treasure trove of opportunities for the savvy social entrepreneur. As part of the first event of its kind in South Africa, The CEO SleepOut™’s Ali Gregg actively met with individuals, corporates and others who are in a financial position to effect change in an area that is one of our saddest social ills: Homelessness and vulnerable children.
According to Gregg, the opportunity to assist was quickly and enthusiastically grasped by those who became Partners, Champions and Agents of Change. “They were willing to experience a night on the streets rather than sign a cheque and be done with their contribution,” she says. “This heralds a new era in giving, where the core of the gift is not merely a salve for a conscience, but a heartfelt contribution to a cause with which each giver has now had a brief experience.”
Gathering together the companies and individuals who are in a position to help – not only financially, but through influence and leadership – has raised the bar for NPOs across the country. “We know the ‘begging bowl’ charity drives don’t work. We know people are tired of being asked to donate and never seeing the true effect of their donations.
“We also know that most people, if asked, will help where they can. The CEO SleepOut™ gives everyone – not just the wealthy – the chance to be their highest self and donate time and effort to walk in someone else’s shoes. Philanthropy based on heart, spirit, empathy, care, determination, commitment and transparency will, I believe, be the social currency showcasing business as it should be in the next world order.”
– By The Philanthropic Collection –
The Philanthropic Collection™ is a boutique social enterprise,
where we tailor haute-couture brands for philanthropy.