Large companies are taking keen interest in the “bottom of the pyramid”, the socio-economic group that is both the largest and the poorest globally, who represent 2.5 billion people. Regardless of this group’s poverty, they constitute a substantial proportion of global purchasing power. They represent the majority of the population and what can be considered as an untapped market for organizations. Industries such as Education, Health, Agriculture, Energy, and Finance can use social innovations as a catalyst for development of communities which means development of their profits. The question mark is can capitalistic ambition develop communities?
The success of a businessmen is a function of their ability to mutate into a social entrepreneurs, while social entrepreneurs would have never succeeded without the capitalistic spirit that drove them at the beginning of their journey. Both types of entrepreneurs are inextricably intertwined and should not be differentiated. Can for profit organizations be separated from the community they are in? If a company is in itself a small world, then it is also a perspective on the world, one of its reflections, and one of the faces of society. Look at your organization does it no resemble a community disregarding of size or industry? Modern entrepreneurs are now aware of this responsibility and wish to part ways with an attitude of mere utilization of the world. How is that possible?
1- Social Innovations are based on user-centered innovation (human centric design). The creation of ideas products, and services should arise from the direct need of your communities which your organization is part of.
2- Every product or service is eventually targeted to a certain community directly or indirectly, assess the effect of the value you deliver on the community and whether or not it truly develops the community and creates an ecosystem
3- Allow the face of society within your organization to become similar to the face of society you serve as your clients
4- Generate a method in which each team member is able to generate a initiative that dually increases bottom line results and fulfill societal needs
So, if social innovation can become an intellectual and methodological model, could it in turn end up trapped into formulas and methods? Not unlike classic entrepreneurship, it is mainly driven by unusual characters, closer in kinship to the adventurer or the navigator than to the manager. Creativity in social innovation arouses a sense of Purpose to everyone within your organization because of its overall objective of advancing the well-being of individuals and communities, but also in relation to its “outstanding, non-standard character.” While it is fascinating to observe social innovation in action, there are several challenges on how this innovation can be intertwined and integrated with your business model and process. This process should be nurtured by leadership of the organization but brought into life by team members; involving them in the making has a replica effect on areas of collaboration, culture, loyalty and turnover. The power of social innovation comes from the people.
How can social innovation be managed?
This is where Vision and Strategy prove to be decisive. This boils down, in short, to tuning in and empowering oneself and one’s company to notice projects and nurture them. Crucial element in a project is to achieve sustainability, by simply being profitable. It’s basically a cross-fertilization initiative, aiming to create a dialogue between different worlds. Today we are witnessing a proliferation of initiatives and proposals to change communities globally. Yes, what I am saying is developing communities and people should be profitable for your organization. The concept of sustainable development is a symptom of this situation: few people had heard of it ten years ago, and now it is taking the center stage! Social innovation, thus, would be one of the elements leading to the reconstitution of a “reformist nebula”. The beginning of a cycle of innovation: the invention, on the fringes of the current central model, of tomorrow’s economy.
What obstacles does capitalism face to develop communities? Is there a conflict of interest? Does developing communities develop bottom line results on the short term, long term, both or none?