Taking a Movement from Fringes to Mainstream
The social business story today
Until recently, the value of social purpose business was rarely understood beyond the confines of society’s fringes. When the Social Venture Network (SVN), headquartered in California, was established 25 years ago, social entrepreneurship was viewed by many as a whimsical notion.
Today, if you want to make a difference in the world through economics, entrepreneurship, politics or policy making, you’d better understand what the social business movement is all about.
That the concept is now accepted as a legitimate source of economic and social prosperity by mass audiences of consumers, decision-makers and influencers is the biggest story in the business world today, says SVN chair and Ibis Communications president and CEO MaryAnne Howland.
“We’re now really seeing the impact of what these pioneers have done by the mere idea that we have been to the White House so many times this year to discuss with legislators policies that impact the growth of these businesses,” MaryAnne points out.
“The fact that we’ve spawned the American Sustainable Business Council, that is now only in it’s third, young year but is having so much impact and influence at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions — that’s powerful.”
She points to Tennessee, where her business is based, as an example of the growing awareness of a more socially-conscious approach to business among all walks of life. The state is typically a hotbed of Republican conservatism, MaryAnne explains, and yet everyone in business there seems to speak the language of sustainability when they meet to discuss future growth.
And partnerships that span oceans and transcend political boundaries will be critical in carrying the momentum of the social business movement forward, she adds.
At the upcoming SVN Fall conference, Virgin Unite CEO Jean Oelwang will present, and MaryAnne envisions a strong partnership growing between SVN and the powerful arm of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
Branson is being honored for lifetime achievement at the upcoming SVN Hall of Fame celebration, and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Banks is another honoree among several other pioneers of the movement.
This international attention, coupled with the booming growth in awareness among young business leaders and consumers, gives MaryAnne great hope for the future.
“It’s an exciting time,” she says.
For more information on the upcoming SVN events, visit this page.