Today’s health crisis is a tragedy that forced us all to quickly adapt, but it has given us a chance to change course towards a more just and sustainable economic and societal model. I work with top entrepreneurs and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) across the globe who are harnessing this moment in history as a turning point for the new global economy – one where social and environmental progress takes precedence. This begins with impact entrepreneurs who are working to create forward-looking movement in their fields.
SMEs represent 50% of global jobs*, and one in three startups are dedicated to positive social or environmental change.** With much of the world’s workforce disrupted, now is actually the opportune moment to support the movement that impact entrepreneurs and SME owners are rallying for.
The pandemic has highlighted a need for change
The way I see it, the pandemic highlighted two fundamental issues in the global economy: systemic inequality that largely remains undeterred by the current economic and social models, and the lack of robust action, investment and true prioritization to tackle climate change. At Impact Hub, one of the largest global networks focused on building communities for impact at scale, we recognize these challenges and actively work to support 16,500+ entrepreneurs – and beyond – who are developing unique and effective solutions in the 5 regions of the world.
Two of our members exemplify impact driven innovation. One is MeetDoctor, an organization working to tackle inequality highlighted by COVID-19. The entrepreneurs use video technology to match doctors with underserved areas. Another organization, Syzygy Plasmonics, is working to reduce environmental harm in the industrial gas, chemical and energy industries. Leaders are working to empower a revolution by powering reactors by light instead of heat that comes from burning fuel. That fundamental change reduces both cost and carbon emissions. Imagine the incredible environmental impact of that change taking place across all industries.
Support is hard to find
But even amidst today’s overlapping crises, governments are not prioritizing solutions like these. Changemakers are struggling to access the financial and non-financial support they need to make change. The Impact Hub network and our partners are committed to providing this critical support and continuing to lobby for policy and funding change.
One program we are particularly proud of is New Roots, a business startup and mentoring program that matches refugees and people from migrant communities with mentors from GoDaddy, to help identify and pursue medium to long-term professional goals. Delivered by Impact Hub King’s Cross in London, the program is dedicated to providing personalized support for migrants to meet self-defined aspirations and encourage entrepreneurial spirit. This is achieved through mentorship, business-skills workshops, one-on-one clinics with GoDaddy experts, and peer networking.
As one participant, Sulaiman, a Kurdish migrant living in London, put it: “New Roots had a big influence because it gave me structure, and the monthly workshops gave me ways to consistently improve my digital magazine, and meeting professional people through the Impact Hub space gave me more confidence, made me feel like I had an idea that was worth committing to and helped motivate me.”
It’s time to rebuild
Whether it’s through programs like New Roots or directly through the work of small business ventures, I have found that true progress lies in the hearts of individuals who are courageous enough to take matters into their own hands and go into business as their own leader, determined to make concrete positive change in the world. This is why I encourage people to refer to today’s business environment as the path to The New Economy; it is time we rebuild businesses and brands with a fundamental focus on improving the lives of people and the planet.
While this may be easier said than done, I’ve seen true progress made over recent years. I am writing this today to encourage entrepreneur-minded individuals and investors, responsible corporations and governments as well as civil society organizations to join the movement and harness the resources around impact enterprises to help create a more equal and greener future.
* Source: The World Bank, ‘SMEs Finance’
** Source: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, GEM Report on Social Entrepreneurship
Gabriela Gandel is committed to building organizations and systems that enable people and the planet to thrive and meaningful visions to get accomplished. She spent her last 10 years working as a manager or consultant with a mix of not for profit and for profit global organizations spanning over 50 countries around the world. Currently, she happily works for the Impact Hub network as a global director, helping build a global infrastructure for catalyzing and scaling social enterprises and change making businesses that address the key issues of our time.