By Cecile Blilious
As we move further into the 21st century, the global community faces an array of difficult challenges. Over one billion people are struggling with water scarcity, a problem particularly salient in California due to the ongoing drought. Alternatively, in places like Africa, the fight against dangerous diseases such as Ebola has captured the world’s attention. In order to overcome the challenges that face us all, we all must accept the responsibility to act. We each have a role to play — every individual, every city, every country and every business.
The question then becomes, how can we all contribute to overcoming these challenges? As individuals we are best positioned to act as independent, helpful agents; cities are best positioned to create effective local solutions; and national governments are best positioned to enact guiding legislation and provide assistance. Technology startups and businesses meanwhile, are particularly well suited to use innovation to create effective solutions to global challenges.
To date, tech start-ups have shown flashes of enormous potential. Green-technology startups have made it possible to recycle previously unsalvageable material, and biotech companies are revolutionizing medicine for first and third world ailments. While these accomplishments have made a notable effect, much more can be done to foster an environment wherein tech startups dedicate themselves to creating socially minded solutions.
Through proper investment strategies and corporate practices, tech companies can be encouraged to actualize their potential and foster social improvements that resolve global challenges, as I will outline below:
The need for merged goals applies to investors the same way it does for corporate leaders. When investors understand that social returns and financial returns are equally vital within a company’s activities, they allow the company to maintain focus on its social agenda. The success of companies that strive toward these merged goals has contributed to the continued growth of impact investing. For tech startups in particular, social benefits and financial profits easily come hand-in-hand, and they have drawn attention from Impact Investors.
While many entrepreneurs create technologies of minimal social impact, others do great good. When socially minded businesses and investors execute the proper strategies, they can spread an impact that benefits us all.
Image credit: Flickr/Rodrigo Soldon
Cecile Blilious is the co-founder and managing partner of Impact First Investments, an Israeli impact investment firm. Cecile has extensive experience managing foundations focused on creating social good and has served as CEO or in leadership positions at a number of Israeli high-tech companies.