Social Impact. If you are in the Development sector, you might have heard these two words quite often, especially that time when you competitively apply to conferences, fellowships, and events to gain knowledge, experience, and the network you need to create positive change. Or those times when you lose sleep to prepare for a pitch to get the funding needed for your project. Or when you finally realize your ideas are now creating exciting impact to your target community.
Social Impact Work was indeed exciting to embark on for both personal and career goals. But, in due course of time, its real meaning has been lost in translation and now with a new obstacle to overcome, the COVID-19 Pandemic. But do not worry. This article is your Go-to Guide to re-introduce yourself to Social Impact and its current trends in this new normal.
Let us start with the basics first. What is Social Impact?
According to businessimpact.umich.edu, Social Impact can be described as “A significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge.”
It is as simple as that. In other words, social impact, in its core, is all about curating activities with a specific goal that ultimately boils down to the intention of creating a lasting impact for the betterment of people’s lives. This is usually witnessed in the development sector which deals with grassroots issues like health, water, sanitation, education, gender inequalities, infrastructure and the list goes on.
There are many types of social impact work which is usually witnessed through the activities of well-known International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) like Oxfam, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) like UN AID, Foundations like the Gates Foundation, Charities like SOS Children’s Villages, Social Enterprises like Development Innovation Insider (Diinsider), Acumen to name a few.
There certainly has been strong uprise in terms of the number of Social Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprises by young people that have come forward, especially in the last couple of years owing to several global changes that we are collectively experiencing. Most probably you’re one of them, right?
But are you really on the right track?
Who are Social Entrepreneurs?
In simple terms, a social entrepreneur is an individual who establishes an enterprise with the approach of solving dynamic and complex societal day-to-day issues on their own or with the aim of collaborating to bring about collective change like what Development Innovation Insider does. Social Entrepreneurs are driven by purpose and their ultimate vision is to give back to the society.
Though some may view such organizations as doing charity work, the truth is they are far from being charities. Social enterprises does meaningful work for the society which means good things comes with good prices too, unlike charities who depend on other enterprises to donate great amounts of money that is used for philanthropic purposes.
In order for Social Entrepreneurs to achieve their visions, it requires them to market the aims, vision and mission of the company to the world out there. Believe it or not, we at Diinsider are constantly networking, collaborating with people from across the world to create a lasting impact through the projects we undertake. The next question might be: how do we create this impact, especially during this pandemic?
How is Social Impact attained?
Though there still remains numerous debates around how impact can be measured or is attained in the development sector, Impact = Tangible Changes.
One of the obvious yet underestimated indicators through which Social Impact is achieved is when we can witness that a solution is brought forward for the society that has a lasting positive impact for its people.
A social impact mission = a clear goal to improve lives of the people in a selected community or society. This is the core belief of every change-maker out there and we strive by this daily.
By doing so, not only are we serving society’s diverse populations but are also handing these people with a quality life that has to be led. One of the predominant reasons why social enterprises are sustainable is owing to the fact that social entrepreneurship forms relationships that go beyond economic purposes.
The Trend of Social Impact in the New Normal
Through major collaborative projects, networking events, Social Impact was greatly achieved until the COVID-19 Pandemic shut doors for many across the world. While it severely affected the day-to-day work that the social enterprises did before the pandemic, thanks to technology and several virtual meeting platforms, social enterprises continued to make an impact across the world by hosting more number of networking events, webinars, workshops, especially involving the voices of the youth more than ever before.
The pandemic in some form or the other has moulded each of us into a more responsible citizen in a manner that social enterprises witness impact being created from the people themselves. This can be seen when individuals come together to take part in the recent Earth Day Challenge 2021 or when countries decide to opt for a carbon-neutral path for development.
Social Impact in the new normal is witnessed in several forms and with the access to latest, cutting-edge technology, social entrepreneurs are taking creativity to a whole new level. Right from producing food for the whole of Montreal, Canada amidst the pandemic with the help of the world’s largest rooftop greenhouse to establishing a common international forum for social entrepreneursfrom across the world to combat the pandemic, social impact has come a long way and is ever-dynamic.
With people collectively being conscious of their everyday choices, social enterprises are also manufacturing products that not only are carbon-neutral but qualitatively uplifts the lives of people and is enriching the environment. A range of essentials to non-essentials are largely contributing to this long lasting social impact.
A Challenging time for Social Impact Doers
Though impact is being created as we speak, it definitely has taken a toll on all impact doers. Impact work is highly dependent on meeting and interacting with communities at the grassroots levels face-to-face which has been snatched away by the pandemic. With the transition to remote work, it has led to physical and mental burnouts which directly affects the motivational levels too.
But one can overcome it by taking one-day at a time or one project at a time or by even learning a new impact related skill. It can certainly keep us more engaged and creates a space for us change-makers that our work is yet to be done and the world is yet to witness our highly passionate spirit.
For all the change-makers out there, we have one thing to say - Yes, it is hard to stay positive and motivated at all times. But with small steps we take to keep our passion alive, it reminds us of the greatness that each of us are embedded with and how change can still be created. Perhaps the pandemic is the time for us to introspect, recharge and sooner or later create lasting effects that the world will never forget.
Social impact has and will continue to make a lasting impression in all our lives in the years to come and we believe that there is an impact doer in each of you.