Disruption for Social Good

with Renee Kaplan

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The four I's for social entrepreneurship success

Renee Kaplan

Chief Strategist, Change Maker, Impact Investment Expert

Lessons Learned

A standout social venture should have impact, issue relevance, an inflection point, and innovation.

The ecosystem needs to reach an inflection point for your innovation to achieve disruption.

Look for ways that you can use social media to amplify your venture.


Lesson: Disruption for Social Good with Renee Kaplan

Step #6 Evaluation: The four I's for social entrepreneurship success

We look for what we call the four I's. We look for impact within an issue that's relevant, so some issue relevance around that impact, an inflection point within that ecosystem and the actual innovation itself.

For us, all our sourcing for social entrepreneurs, and ultimately how we bring new organizations into our portfolio and fund them, how we even look at existing organizations within the portfolio and refunding them, that's the frame we look at. We have a pretty detailed process, scorecards that we keep, approaches, updates, trying to get real insight, real time to keep our information current. But it's a constantly evolving process, but anchored in those four areas.

One of the organizations that's pretty exciting that recently won the Skoll Award is Global Witness. Global Witness is an organization based in the UK that works to really make illegal activities transparent. So where there is corruption, and particularly where there are natural resources, so whether it's blood diamonds, whether it's illegal logging that's stripping the natural resources in particular countries.

They start out as journalists and they posed as poachers or timber buyers and they go in and really do incredible investigative research on these issues and who the players are and map where the money goes and ultimately publish results and work with policymakers to say, "Here's what's going on. We have the proof of how these transactions are being done and we see the tremendous atrocities that are happening on the ground with the people that are affected in the local countries."

They are an organization that we think is very disruptive, that looks at a global problem, which is greed and corruption and stripping natural resources, and know that our dollars, the impact that they have achieved over time. They're not a startup, they've been around for many years building their case, building their approach, building their relationship with policymakers and people on the ground. The issue is an inflection point. The human rights, I think, issue of whether it's the Khmer Rouge, whether it's countries in Africa that we see have tremendous natural resources and yet their people are suffering tremendously, you see the juxtaposition and the ability that you see the increased media.

Right now if you look at the four I's applied to Global Witness, you'd see the impact that they have, the data that they've collected over a ten-year period on key issues of corruption and illegal activity, and then you look at the inflection point of human rights and the ability for people to be more active with social media, be able to tape, get data and information out to the public or to key people at the right time. You look at the issue of human rights abuse and the dramatic pull for action. And you look at the innovation, which for them is this approach that they take, not just journalism and not just human rights, but blending those two really have a unique approach.

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