Why we need a (social impact) revolution
23 September 2020 at 5:44 pm
“What we’ve created is economic transactions rather than community transformation in the marketplace. We have to change it, not flip it.”
The growth and strength of the social enterprise movement is an opportunity to recreate a marketplace that values social capital instead of just financial, and could see a solution to some of the globe’s most pressing issues, a pioneer of the social enterprise sector believes.
Speaking at the Social Enterprise World Forum on Monday, David LePage, the co-founder of Buy Social Canada, said that “tweaking” capitalism was not enough to solve pressing issues such as climate change and racial and social inequality.
“What we’ve created is economic transactions rather than community transformation in the marketplace. We have to change it, not flip it,” LePage said.
“I use the term revolution because a lot of what is going on at the moment is just… changing one model with another.”
In discussion with Jacqueline Novogratz, the CEO and founder of Acumen Fund, LePage said that the way financial gain was measured as a mark of success needed to change, because someone had to be oppressed in order to create value.
“The whole premise of capitalism is focused on economic capital as a measure of success. I think until we change that framework to success being measured in human, social and environmental capital, nothing in this world is going to change,” he said.
Social enterprises the gateway to a new world
He told Pro Bono News that social enterprises had done an excellent job of disrupting the traditional capital-based model, and he only expected that to grow.
“Social enterprises have already made that step where they have decided their business model is not about extracting value from the transaction, but they are using the marketplace to actually build community capital and build relationships, which is really different from transactions and extraction,” he said.
LePage said that intermediaries such as Social Traders were doing pivotal work in changing the relationship that businesses had to the kind of value they wanted from products and services.
“When the government or private sector says no, we want to buy with social and community value, not purely economic value, social enterprise opportunities are going to grow,” he said.
He added that the social unrest caused by the Black Lives Matter movement, the ongoing climate emergency, and the social and economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic only exacerbated the need that the system we were currently working under was broken.
“The only way to fix it is to redo the market, to bring in those communities that have been excluded or used for extraction,” he said.
“Everyone talks about building back better, but we really need to build back different, because if we build back with the same system, it’s all just going to crash again.”
The Social Enterprise World Forum is taking place online all week. Check out their website for more information.