In 2011, I left a good job as a social media strategist at a legal marketing website to explore the connection between law and social innovation. Within weeks of my self-guided sabbatical, I started Innov8Social, a blog to explore the intersections of impact, law, entrepreneurship, and policy. It became a catalyst for so many things: I attended events, wrote guest blog posts, was syndicated on websites, and interviewed 35+ social innovation entrepreneurs, leaders, and change-makers seeking to create impact and value in their organizations, startups, and companies.
In two years, I have met people who inspire, challenge, and genuinely believe that we can collectively design a future that combines value and impact. They have come to the field with vast experience, or none at all, yet they have all focused on solving a problem or making a solution less detrimental. They have re-envisioned using waste to create value, and are re-imagining a legal system that will adapt to the evolving economy. In their tough moments, they have sought refuge in the collective community and their personal networks. And in lighter moments, they have laughed at the stereotypes sometimes attributed to people doing good.
For those considering how to start a social enterprise, there are a lot of practical questions that arise quickly—ones that don’t always have quick answers.
- What kind of legal structures have other social enterprises adopted, and why?
- What are innovative business models that have earned revenue while also lending themselves to impact?
- How are companies measuring their impact?
- What drives the work of social innovators—what is the “why” behind the kind of venture they are creating?
These are the questions we are asking a diverse group of social enterprises in our upcoming book on social innovation, in an effort to empower social innovators with actionable takeaways.
Shivani Khanna, co-author, is a business consultant that designs and implements solutions for base of the pyramid consumers in emerging countries. What began as a quick meet-up for coffee has evolved into a dynamic partnership in which we seek ways to make the social innovation movement more accessible and actionable to its potential practitioners. We believe that to truly re-think business and impact, leaders, individuals, and companies have to adopt a social innovation mindset, a way to think and act beyond a singular bottom line.
We are committed to mapping out these intersections in an easy-to-read, graphic-rich book. If we truly want to encourage social innovation, it is vital to educate, empower, and equip the individuals who are leading the charge.
This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.