A new wave of entrepreneurs have created innovations that address pressing human needs: a hand-powered solar lamp that reduces a family’s dependence on dangerously flammable oil for adequate light; a network of neighborhood-based grocery stores that sell fresh produce; a low-cost infant warmer for vulnerable babies in developing countries. But so many of these ideas benefit small groups of people in specific locations. And poverty, malnutrition, and infant mortality persist.
So how can we achieve social impact at a larger scale? How can these new technologies, solutions, products, and ideas reach not just one community, or even one region, but everyone who needs them?
HBR.org and The Bridgespan Group have partnered to develop this three-month-long series and investigate what it takes to scale entrepreneurial ideas and solutions that benefit society. We’ll explore three topics related to scale:
- January: What are market-based approaches to social change, and how to fund them
- February: How to develop talent that makes the enterprise, and the sector, tick
- March: How to scale what works using technology, data, and other levers
This month, we’ll focus on what to do and how to fund it. To kick us off, Bain partner and a trustee of the UK-based Social Business Trust, Alan Hirzel posits that social enterprises can’t have broad impact unless they play by the same rules as profit-seeking businesses. Rhett Morris and Linda Rottenberg ask whether entrepreneurs must prioritize financial goals over social ones in order to be successful. Venture capitalist Deb Mills-Scofield explores whether developing a business model differs for “social” and “non-social” companies.
And this is just the beginning. Throughout the three months, we’ll draw on voices from the non-profit community, corporate world, academia, and the growing field of social enterprise to explore how entrepreneurs and more-established organizations are using market forces to create social good on a large scale.
We see this Insight Center as a conversation: What have you learned about how to grow social ventures and increase the impact of your ideas? What’s worked? What challenges have you faced?
Follow the Scaling Social Impact insight center on Twitter @ScalingSocial.