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Gray Ghost Annual Report 2017
Claudius Gutemann, Gray Ghost Annual Report 2017 14 Jun 2018
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Audrey Selian, Accelerating the Flow of Funds into Early-Stage Ventures 03 Jun 2018
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How can we better solve the ‘big problems’ of today?

Perhaps the biggest questions facing the social sector today are around scale and sustainability, creating greater and more long-lasting impact. This paper argues against the perceived benefits of philanthropy and offers a point of view on perhaps why social enterprise is better suited to solving the ‘big problems’. To make the shift from grant-based models to more self-sustainable business models that combine profit and social good.

 

 

Context

For all of us who have chosen to tread a different path,  the  path  of  a  more  ‘meaningful  life’,  the journey  has  been  very  exciting,  but  it  has  also been   tough.   And,   it   has   been   fraught   with frustration, moral dilemmas and uncertainty. Was the journey worth it? Were the sacrifices? Did I in the  final  analysis make  even  a “small  dent  in  the universe”?

Perhaps  a  big  challenge  we  have  often  faced  is creating   that   ‘larger   impact’,   and   leaving   a ‘permanent mark’. In more jargonistic terms, have our programs or projects achieved desirable scale, and   have   they   been   sustainable?   Scale   and sustainability  continue  to  dog  the  development sector  whilst  the  business  sector  happily  goes about  creating  highly  scalable  and  sustainable businesses  -  businesses  that  scale  globally,  and sustain decades and even centuries.

Ironic  isn’t  it?  A  bottle  of  water  with  fizz  and lavor  scales  globally  and  sustains  100  years  (The Coca Cola Company now further wishes to double its  global  turnover  in  the  next  decade!).  Many social   initiatives   that   offer   more   meaningful solutions haven’t. The way I see it, the problem does not lie in what we have done, but in how we have chosen to go about  our  ‘business’.  We  have  most  often  relied on  doles  or  grants,  and  depended  on  our  own resources to come up with solutions. We have not created  self-sustainable  programs,  and  we  have not  leveraged  business  best  practices,  especially innovation,  to  create  the  scale  and  sustainability we desire.

More often than not, we have been content with dabbling  around  with  creating  innovative  models (for others to replicate), and our own survival andsustenance.  Coasting  along  comfortably  in  the belief  that  we’re  doing  good,  it’s  a  tough  job,  a complex  job,  so  accountability  needs  a  different yardstick.This  might  sound  harsh,  but  the  reality  is  that after so many years of so much effort by so many people utilizing so much money, can we truly say that  we  have  cracked  the  problem?  Have  we cracked the ‘big problems’ that continue to plague our  society?  If  we  were  to  answer  this  honestly, the answer would be no, especially if we were to evaluate  this  in  context  of  the  effort  and monies that  went  in.  And  we  get  stuck  with  the  big question  –  has  it  been  worth  it?  Especially  when we  look  at  the  sacrifices  we  made  our  children and  families  make  in  our  pursuits  for  creating  a better world. So,   what   is   the   problem?   This   paper   argues against  the  perceived  benefits  of  philanthropy, highlights    its    downside    effects,    and    more importantly  offers  a  point  of  view  on  how  social enterprise  is  perhaps  better  suited  to  solving  the ‘big  problems’. 

It  is  a moralistic  viewpoint  that  is entirely  personal,  that  has  arisen  from  first-hand immersion on both sides - the social side and the business  side.  It  is  a  point  of  view,  not  a  theory.And   debate   will   certainly   help   to   move   the question along – how can we better solve the ‘big problems’ of today?