2020: The year for social enterprises and impact businesses to go mainstream?
By Brooke Co-founder Jeroen Bolluijt
As I am writing this, bushfires are turning vast tracts of unique Australian bush into ash, punctuating the country’s hottest and driest year on record with disaster. Scientists fear that these fires, super-charged by extreme weather conditions, have resulted in irreversible damage to ecosystems.
Last year I spent time with my parents in the Netherlands, a country known for its rain and mild summer temperatures. Not so last summer, the temperature hit 39C. Trains stopped working, roads became liquid and people didn’t know where to go for shelter because their houses did not have air-conditioning and there were no big indoor shopping centres to hide in.
The changing climate compounds the major social challenges of our time, from food and water security to the global refugee crisis. And our social media feeds remind us daily of other problems in need of attention: educational inequality, homelessness, domestic violence, over-fishing of the oceans, over-farming of the land…
I am sure I am not alone in wondering what kind of future we are heading for. Is it likely to be better, worse or just different?
Three reasons to be optimistic
There are three powerful mechanisms that are already driving significant positive impacts for the world. And I believe the stage has been set for them to come into their own over the course of 2020.
1: Millennials have grown into a consumer super-group and they have a much larger social conscience than previous generations
Teenagers are expected to represent the largest generation of consumers this year, with a direct spending power of $143 billion in the USA alone*. Not only are they becoming one of the major buying segments, they are more socially aware and therefore more likely to buy into the value propositions of social enterprises. McCrindle reports that “80% of Gen Z is said to have a greater tendency to buy products that have a positive social or environmental impact”**. There is no denying that change follows the money.
2: Technology has proven to be a major driver of change and social enterprises are starting to use this to their advantage.
Technology has proven to be a major driver of change in general. Many of the top US businesses didn’t exist 10 years ago, and the new entries can all be defined, directly or indirectly, as tech companies. This demonstrates the power of technology-based solutions and the speed at which you can scale tech-based businesses.