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YouthActionNet Blog

Social Entrepreneurs are Creating Greater Value(s) and Will Dominate the Future’s Success Stories

Oliver Guinness | July 16, 2014

Twenty years ago approximately 95 percent of stock market capitalization was comprised of traditional assets. Today such assets represent less than 30 percent of total market cap. This is because the top performing companies are largely comprised of intangible assets like human capital, organizational culture, innovation, branding, and goodwill.

At the same time, the field of entrepreneurship is being leveled across the globe. Entrepreneurs in all corners of the world are gaining access to startup frameworks  like “Lean Startup Methodology,” “Customer Development,” and “Agile Software Development,” as well as fundamental technologies and startup infrastructure that do not require large capital investments.

It is within this context that I believe social entrepreneurs are gaining the advantage. Their advantage is purpose, and purpose is increasingly critical in creating “intangibles”—the most successful ones are marrying purpose with innovative business models, management frameworks, and technologies to maximize value across all their stakeholders and over time are generating what I call greater “value(s):” greater social, environmental, and economic value. They are the future.

As a venture investor focused on sustainability, and an advisor and judge to the International Youth Foundation’s YouthActionNet® program, I’ve seen hundreds of startups over the last few years, and I see the lines between entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship blurring. This is a good thing. Frankly, most entrepreneurs don’t care about labels and many of the latest generation of entrepreneurs don’t even see the differences. I’ve seen this unfold over the last few years as an increasing number of YouthActionNet applications have been from for-profit entities, however the entrepreneurs behind these companies aren’t focused on making money for money’s sake, they see financial sustainability and higher profitability as a path to greater scale—a better way of generating greater social and environmental impact! Of course, some want to make money too, but what’s wrong with doing well by doing good?

What encourages me most about my involvement with YouthActionNet isn’t the increasing number of sophisticated applicants, inspiring business models, or compelling technologies, it’s the understanding that whether these entrepreneurs succeed in their current endeavors or not, they will go on to other organizations—for-profit, non-profit, government or other—and bring with them the passion, purpose, and determination to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Oliver Guinness is the Co-Founder & Managing Director of Clearpoint Ventures and a member of YouthActionNet’s Global Selection Committee.

Image credit: Andreas Poike