What a great dinner with all the past, current, and new Skoll Social Entrepreneurs last night! The Foundation has created a real community around social entrepreneurship – a signal achievement. This community is already bringing about major systemic change for good in the world, and I think we are close to a tipping point where social entrepreneurship becomes a major driver of social, economic, and environmental development. And this tipping point could not come at a better – but also more perilous – time.
The world faces unprecedented challenges that cannot be effectively addressed by more of the same old approaches and technologies. There is a lot of talk about how many more billion dollars we need to solve the world’s global warming, AIDS, hunger, and water problems. But more money, while needed, is not the answer unless we are able to bring about huge social, institutional, and technical innovations. Without these innovations, we won’t solve the problems by spending any amount of our realistically available resources. The current financial crisis will be a real test of whether social entrepreneurship’s value in addressing these global problems is widely recognized. Many will be tempted to reduce funding for social entrepreneurship to conserve their resources. Yet the returns to innovation have never been higher. The wisest and most farsighted funders will maintain or increase their funding at this time. The conservative funders will pull back sharply or put their money into more established, conventional programs. It will be interesting to see where the chips fall in the next year.