Every year, SOCAP brings together some of the most innovative and inspirational figures within the impact space. Throughout 2015 we have interviewed leaders within the SOCAP community who are at the forefront of movements that are creating positive social and environmental impact. To each of these figures we asked: What is inspiring you? What is giving you hope? Here are some of our favorite answers.
“I have more hope now than I ever had before. I have great hope that a beautiful, great joy is possible for us. The main thing that gives me hope is that what we need to do, what we actually want deeply, and what is actually working–are all actually the same thing. Problems like climate change and the other big complex crises that we face today all have just one logical response—interdependence.
We are all in this together. It’s an evolution, the recognition that we are interdependent, that we have to lead from a place that it’s not just me that benefits, it is all off us that benefit including me…We are continuing to evolve and grow and we can cultivate and practice in a way that awakens our understanding of empathy, compassion, interdependence, that we can practice small acts of generosity and altruism which turn out to make us happy. We can cultivate a connection to our own purpose, to our own inner voice. Those are steps towards our own personal wellness too.”
“I think the thing that has struck me is the pace at which change is occurring and amongst large numbers of people, not just younger people but older people, too. It’s a very specific thing. We’ve had a lot of people say, gosh, everything is going to hell in a handbag: the environment, climate change, global warming, race issues. That’s negative awareness. What is inspiring to me is how many people are now saying, enough of the negative; things are going to change but only if we get going. And I’ve been running into this new attitude not only among activists of many communities, but also among people who have been deeply involved in SOCAP.
The same idea, working both at the local level and nationally to start changing the system, instead of just saying things are terrible over and over again. There’s awareness, not only that we can experiment, but that we can move our awareness to a different level. We have the possibility of laying the groundwork for historical change, really changing something big. I’ve been picking this up, a sense of the importance of the moment among more and more people. It is very inspiring.”
“What’s inspiring me are the young entrepreneurs that are working on new concepts that are green and locally based. I feel like our hope for the future really lies in these young entrepreneurs rebuilding the economy.”
“The rockstar teams (from the Impact Hub Africa Seed Program) are inspiring me. They are already doing amazing things and most teams have not launched their Impact Hub yet. They’re locally rooted and therefore tuned into local realities and opportunities. These are amazing individuals who want to be part of the growth and strengthening of the continent through producing locally-grounded, locally-developed solutions and supporting entrepreneurs who are leading the leapfrogging efforts. The teams are incredibly passionate and hard working and make me confident that the hard work we are putting into this will all be very worthwhile.”
I teach a graduate-level class on impact investing at USC’s Marshall School of Business. Some of my students are MBAs and Public Policy students, but the majority of them are working toward a Master’s of Science in Social Entrepreneurship. It is one of the first social entrepreneurship master’s degree programs in the country. The mix of students in my class and the dialog we are having is tremendous. It is so exciting to see the interest level in the field among the millennial generation. My students have an unequivocal belief that we must have a more expansive notion of value—one that goes beyond shareholder value to include stakeholder value. I realize the students in my class are self-selecting, but I am heartened by their general understanding that the world cannot continue on its current path without major consequences.
It is very inspiring to see the number of individuals and institutions that are committing to Divest-Invest. It really feels as though we are at a tipping point. Even since the announcement made a few months ago at the UN climate summit, we are seeing more and more institutions joining. The question is no longer why should we do this, it is how should we do it? Seeing a shift in the dialogue and seeing groups such as the SOCAP community come on board around this work and participate as a community of practice is very powerful. It has been amazing to see the shift in the discourse around these issues. The legitimacy of the movement has been established and now the focus is on, how do we execute?
“I would say, by far, it is meeting with prospective entrepreneurs. In the field in Bangladesh we have the chance to connect with amazing people who don’t have access to Microsoft Office or the Internet. My view of impact today is that you can be successful only if you know how to use Microsoft Office. That is the structural mechanism that is set for funding and for progress. There are so many people that are close to the problem, and even closer to the solution, that we never hear from at conferences or case studies because they can’t communicate through Microsoft Office. When I meet with them it gives me a whole new perspective on the hope that we have in solving these crises. Because these voices, despite being underserved and unheard, are persisting because it is a matter of life or death for them. And they have some incredibly innovative ideas on how to solve issues.”
Be Inspired in the New Year: Join us at SOCAP16
SOCAP16 will take place September 13 -16, 2016, at Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, California. Join us and thousands of social entrepreneurs, impact investors, business leaders, nonprofits, academics and others from around the world. Please join us to share your inspiration and hope with us.