Scale smarter solutions and systems through investing in Social Entrepreneurs

15 June 2021 | Catalyst News, Member Posts

As the G7 prepare to meet in the UK in June and the G20 in Italy in October, our community of social entrepreneurs and experienced problem solvers would like to bring to your attention already existing solutions which are ready to scale.

We are already working around the globe- and in your country – to change the lives of millions of citizens, at the very local, regional, national and international levels. Like you we are impatient for impact. Our solutions are proven and tested but too often we lack supportive policy and investment for scaling solutions. We are willing, available and physically present in the hardest to reach regions of each of your countries – today – and ready right now to accelerate transformative results where governments and societies most need to see change accelerate. The G7/G20 only need to recognise these innovative approaches, include social innovators in solution design and implementation, scale investments in services and solutions and then witness significantly improved results.

We present 3 broad principles with 8 specific recommendations.

Dear G7 & G20 Leaders:

Help us help you solve our systemic challenges – scale smarter solutions and systems through investing in Social Entrepreneurs

As the G7 prepare to meet in the UK in June and the G20 in Italy in October, our community of social entrepreneurs and experienced problem solvers would like to bring to your attention already existing solutions which are ready to scale.

We are already working around the globe- and in your country – to change the lives of millions of citizens, at the very local, regional, national and international levels. Like you we are impatient for impact. Our solutions are proven and tested but too often we lack supportive policy and investment for scaling solutions. We are willing, available and physically present in the hardest to reach regions of each of your countries – today – and ready right now to accelerate transformative results where governments and societies most need to see change accelerate. The G7/G20 only need to recognise these innovative approaches, include social innovators in solution design and implementation, scale investments in services and solutions and then witness significantly improved results.

We have convened and can lay out 3 broad principles then 8 specific recommendations. 3 broad principles:

  • Social entrepreneurs and community leaders should have a seat at the decision-making table- at local, national and multilateral levels, to work as partners to solve our biggest challenges;
  • Governments and other major institutions should create high-level one stop points of contact with access to funding for social entrepreneurs and community leaders;
  • Governments, companies, philanthropists and others must transform the ecosystem of financing the solutions and policies of social entrepreneurs including through collaborative funding models.

8 specific recommendations:

Recognise that the current system of delivery is stuck in narrow minded siloed and underfunded approaches which lose the opportunity for strategic synergies and scale when it comes to delivery. Governments have taken the lead in setting national SDG and climate action priorities but many are struggling to move on to a required “whole of society” approach. Ministerial departments are often the most locked into siloed approaches, and resistant to joined-up intersectoral approaches to social challenges. There is an opportunity to work more effectively with social entrepreneurs to drive essential inter-sectoral social innovation. To this end, we recommend that governments:

  1. Establish a unit in the office of the President or Prime Minister or include social enterprises directly in the name and missions of a Minister to: work with social entrepreneurs to drive social innovation at scale; ensure cross-governmental coordination of policies and interventions involving social entrepreneurs; monitor and learn from what does and does not work; and celebrate successful social innovation.
  1. Resources (human and financial) should be identified within the unit or the Ministry.
  1. Develop a national social innovation agenda and strategy, including identifying key opportunities for partnership with social entrepreneurs. This could involve working with social entrepreneurs to co design intervention strategies based on a gap or discrepancy analysis of SDG and climate action implementation roadmaps, and might be implemented through the establishment of a government department focused on the social economy.
  1. Encourage the creation of mechanisms for collaboration between government and other national entities, social entrepreneurs, UN resident coordinators and all other relevant stakeholders.
  1. Devolve and digitise implementation of the SDGs as much as possible to the most local level, along with providing the necessary financing and human resources and digitisation of governments services.
  1. Put all public contracting bids out to open competitive contracting tender processes which encourage maximal pro-SDG impact and to which social entrepreneurs are able to apply.
  1. Direct the Multilateral, bilateral and regional institutions towards an entrepreneurial mindset: As the majority shareholders in the IFIs, we recommend the G7/20 direct the IFIs to establish “one stop” entry points to these institutions: a high-ranking person or office with direct access to the head of the institution with an explicit role of building effective engagement with relevant social entrepreneurs and including piloting innovative co-creation processes to tackle complex “wicked” problems.
  1. Support the UN to Establish a role in the office of the Secretary General/Deputy Secretary General which maximises the potential of social entrepreneurs to achieve scaled transformative results.. The role would primarily focus on helping scale proven solutions innovated by social entrepreneurs to scale globally by connecting them with relevant UN institutions especially national level Resident Coordinators and UNOPS.

What’s a systems social entrepreneur?

We can be hard to define in part because exact definitions vary based on each country’s public, private and civic sectors regulations. But we always do this: bring the entrepreneurial spirit towards tackling society’s thorniest problems. We create change by recognising and seizing opportunities to apply innovative solutions to unsolved challenges. In doing so we are ambitious, persistent and proactive, comfortable with risk and future-oriented. We display critical thinking skills, flexibility and adaptability. Our approaches emphasise collaboration and often involve human-centered design. We might run a for- profit business, but might also opt for other ways to organise their efforts, including associations, foundations and movements.

For when we manifest our energy as a social enterprise this definition by the EC is helpful: “A social enterprise is an operator in the social economy whose main objective is to have a social impact rather than make a profit for their owners or shareholders. It operates by providing goods and services for the market in an entrepreneurial and innovative fashion and uses its profits primarily to achieve social objectives. It is managed in an open and responsible manner and, in particular, involves employees, consumers and stakeholders affected by its commercial activities.”

We have published several reports with best practices

“New Allies: How governments can unlock the potential of social entrepreneurs for the common good”,

“Getting from crisis to systems change: Advice for leaders in the time of COVID”

“COVID-19 Action Agenda Leaders on the Front Line: Why Social Entrepreneurs Are Needed Now More than Ever”

“Embracing Complexity: Towards a Shared Understanding of Funding Systems Change”

(https://catalyst2030.net/project_category/catalyst-2030-reports/).

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