A profound change is sweeping across the entrepreneurial landscape. In the quest to improve lives or preserve the earth’s natural resources, today’s top minds are not only coming up with game-changing products and services. They are also reinventing systems and harnessing diverse tools — from cross-sector partnerships to capital markets — to meet their goals. Many of these innovative thinkers are young, coming of age in the aftermath of Sept. 11, amid the destruction of two protracted wars and the economic uncertainties ushered in by the Great Recession. They are digital experts, who, thanks to social media, smartphones and access to limitless information, have grown up with a sense of global community that transcends geographic boundaries. And they seem to have social consciousness embedded in their DNA. They are united in wanting to do more than acquire material riches. They measure success by their ability to transform the lives of others. Their question is not ‘’What do I want to be when I grow up?‘’ but ‘’How will the world be different because I lived in it?‘’
As a result, financial success and social impact are becoming ever more linked, with the lines blurring between the business and nonprofit sectors. Twenty years ago, businesses, nonprofits and government made up three distinct parts of society, with their own responsibilities, goals and strategies. In the 1990s, the conversation started to move from how to create the right organizations and programs to which approaches could — with different sectors working together — help solve some of the world’s most profound social problems. In the past couple of decades, there’s been a remarkable acceleration in the overlap between these different sectors.
What is unfolding is a blending of the goals and business models for traditional for-profit enterprises and nonprofit organizations. In the process, nonprofits with empathy-based, revenue-generating models have emerged at the same time as C.E.O.s and entrepreneurs who want to build companies that generate social value through their products and services.—
The article oddly lumps AirBnB and Palantir in with three other more definitively social enterprises, and not all of the founders profiled are as young as the initial first few paragraphs make them seem. Still, it’s an inspiring group of people to read about.