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It is not surprising that many college-aged students, particularly at Penn, care about social impact – the act of creating positive change for people who face social challenges. IMPACT Magazine is just one example of a student group that seeks to inspire other students to make a difference in society. And yet in recent years, this mindset has not been unique to college students alone. Analysis of the Millennial generation (people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s) has shown that their actions, guided by their focus on social impact, have drastically changed the scope of investment, advertising and manufacturing in companies across the globe.
When I visited the Weiss Tech House, one of the first things I noticed was a note scribbled on the white board: “Take a chance on the us. We are the 3%. 97% of startups fail.”
Indeed, Weiss- Labs is an incubator for entrepreneurship and innovation at Penn that is incredibly successful. Started this semester by co-founders, Guthrie Gintzler and Ernest Tavares, Weiss Labs has created a community of support and guidance for budding entrepreneurs at Penn. The first cohort of 7 teams, selected out of 70 applicants, meets for weekly meetings to give each other updates, and feedback and learn about different aspects of entrepreneurship from speakers who are leaders in their fields– anyone from lawyers to venture capitalists.
Guthrie and Ernest in part created the incubator to battle the risk-averse and pre-professional Penn culture, which sometimes prevents students from pursuing their entrepreneurial aspirations. “A lot of people who have good ideas are too afraid to take a break off from their internships and work on their good ideas because it breaks some sort of social code […] It’s oftentimes better to work on your idea and follow your passion even if you’re taking a year off. And companies at the end of the day respect that a lot more than people think”
When Guthrie and Ernest were trying to probe what makes an incubator really successful, they heard that the main thing is creating a tight community. But it’s more than just a community for entrepreneurs; it’s also a family. Guthrie joked, “Pledge Weiss-Labs.”
With over 10,000 Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) operating in developing economies around the world today , the once avant-garde industry of microcredit has expanded into a major international force for combating poverty. Yet the recent ubiquity of MFIs, coupled with a marked decline in recent years of research into the field, creates a peculiar dichotomy of uncertainty surrounding microfinance.
How much have these institutions effected palpable, sustained change in the lives of their clientele? Was microfinance doomed from its inception, or has the field simply taken a wrong turn, with nobody bothering to bring it back on course?
What is it?
In the “Pay for Success” model of social impact bonds, private investors manage public projects that have some social impact goal. By going through the private sector, the goal is to reduce overall government spending. This also allows the government a risk-free way of supporting creative new social programs that may not become successful but have high potential.
From IMPACT Magazine Winter 2013 – Giving
By the Wharton Social Impact Initiative
Giving money away is easy. The challenge lies in using money to create the most positive impact. Individuals today are increasingly more calculating in their contributions and are considering new types of capital with which to create impact. It’s less about “giving back” and more about making deliberate decisions that do the most. While high impact philanthropy has become increasingly popular, impact investing, too, is a rising force affecting donors and businesses alike.