Today, about one billion people worldwide are malnourished. The same number lack access to clean water, and over 10% of children receive no education. Yet the world will grow by at least two billion people over the next 30 years--the equivalent of more than 80 new Shanghais. Changes of this scale present us with immense new challenges and equally vast opportunities.
Dan Pallotta, creator of the 3-day breast cancer walk, in his now infamous TED talk, says, "Philanthropy is a world that works for everyone, with no one left out." In order to make this vision a reality we have a long way to go, first of which should be a reduction in the major gaps that still exist in the social impact ecosystem between entrepreneurs and successful innovators who want to give back to the world, and investors who are willing to support their cause. The only way to truly tackle the world's growing pains is by closing this gap and finding sustainable solutions to enduring social problems.
Within this context, academia continues to make strides towards finding such solutions and acting as an incubator for the next wave of social entrepreneurs and impact investors. As the awareness and prevalence of social impact continues to evolve, leading universities such as the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania are making this topic part of their value proposition by promoting ways in which business can be a force for good - through a multi-faceted social impact initiative (http://socialimpact.wharton.upenn.edu/), courses and electives, and dozens of student-run events and activities.
For the second year running, Wharton is bringing together a community of socially innovative thinkers who understand that what is good for society is also good for business, by hosting the student-led Social Impact Conference at its San Francisco campus on April 10, 2014.
Last year, nearly 150 members of the public convened to discuss the future of the sector, and the present movement that's bringing social capital, resources and entrepreneurs together. Open to all, this year's conference features a wide-ranging focus and more than double the panel discussions, on topics from urban development, to education transformation, to the art of impact investing. Scheduled speakers include leaders in finance, food, funding and more.
Keynote speaker, Bobby Turner of Turner Impact Capital, will set the stage with a presentation on the importance of a "triple bottom line" investment strategy, where environmentally responsible projects can yield high financial returns for investors while providing new opportunities to community residents.
In a panel on "profitable purpose" Meg Garlinghouse, Head of LinkedIn for Good, Ben Cain, of Revolution Foods, and Matthew Pohlson of Omaze will share insights into how their companies have struck the equilibrium between higher purpose and financial success.
On the financial management side of the ecosystem, an expert panel will delve into the art of impact investing. Alex Levin, of Citi Community Capital, Julia Sze of Sonen Capital LLC, Cynthia Ringo of DBL Investors, and Susie Lee of the Skoll Foundation will share insights and answer pressing questions such as how deals are conducted, what investors should realistically expect, and how impact investing is evolving and improving lives.
For entrepreneurs and innovators in this space the redirection of donations is a thing of the past: organizations are constantly re-writing the guidebook on how social businesses can secure funding and make a huge positive impact. Wisdom on this topic will come from Aradhana Roy, PhD Consultant at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kohl Crecelius, CEO and Co-Founder of nonprofit Krochet Kids, and Kriss Deigimeier, CEO of San Francisco-based Tides.
Additional breakout panels will cover "Rethinking and Transforming Education", "Building community through sustainable housing and urban development", "Social Innovation and Healthcare" and "Social and Environmental Consciousness."
This will be a landmark event on the West Coast and for the social impact community at large. The students running this event, soon to graduate from the executive MBA program, are very passionate about the opportunities that conferences such as this can provide by connecting like minded individuals in one of the worlds most entrepreneurial cities, for social good.
For further information, please visit http://www.whartonsfsocialimpact.com. Tickets are still available online now!