Ideas. Cities. Social Innovation.

I sense a bit of a pejorative term, but otherwise the author makes a good point:

The real risk of all this is the same thing that happened in the banking industry – disproportionately high incomes driven by distortions that siphon talent away from productive industries to unproductive ones. There is real demand for top engineers and inventors to commercialize new ways to harness ocean water. Instead, that talent can be found gambling onfictitious investments or perfecting the trajectory of a freshly killed digital pig. Multiply that situation by thousands and you have:

    1. A country completely disconnected from real world problems faced by the rest of the world (like, no water)
    2. Entrepreneurs missing out on a chance to make money to solve those problems
    3. The US falling farther behind and deeper in debt as its biggest talent counts clicks from within a narrowing, darkening, digital consumer bunghole

By the way, I am not saying there is no room in the world for entertainment or leisure-oriented innovation, but I am saying if we want to continue getting those Lenovo’s from China, they’re not going to accept our Tweets or Oinks as payment.

There is considerable buzz in the United States about whether a new “pay for success” model of financing social solutions currently being piloted across the Atlantic could work on American soil. It’s called a social impact bond (SIB), and the first—in fact, the only so far—was launched in September 2010 by an organization called Social Finance UK. SIBs are structured to get proven solutions to scale with no risk to public budgets—governments pay for the solutions only if they work. But despite this risk shifting, a SIB’s structure involves several actors—each charging a fee or return. As a result, this tool is a more expensive way to scale programs than if government simply contracted directly with a service provider. These additional costs will be worth it in many cases, but SIBs won’t be suited to every situation.

As if running a new venture isn’t challenging enough, Ms. Barrett also decided to do it in a new way. Last month, she filed paperwork with state officials to transform Agrodolce into a “benefit corporation.” Informally known as a B Corp, this corporate structure obligates businesses to pursue a triple bottom line, which means they are accountable not only for generating profits but also for creating positive social and environmental impacts.

The B Corp structure exists “to suit the needs of entrepreneurs and investors who want to make a better world through business,” said Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Labs, a non-profit based in Berwyn, Pa. that promotes legislation allowing companies to formally incorporate as benefit corporations.

On the flipside of this scenario, are the organisations and institutions that continue to flourish, grow, and apparently seamlessly morph into hybrids and different types of organisations where profit is not the only driver. A closer look at them reveals that far from undergoing huge make-overs they have in fact made clever adjustments based on key insights about their place in the world and how they want to engage and interact with it. For many such businesses, these adjustments have stemmed from the need to stay competitive, genuine curiosity and a desire to understand how they impact and serve their communities. Social entrepreneurs are well placed to answer some of these questions and help implement and refine the processes required to reach these new operating frameworks.

Well said:

As a Canadian, I am passionate about our country’s role in philanthropic efforts. But the unfortunate truth is that sustaining philanthropic efforts is very challenging, especially during economic downturns. While it’s part of daily life for Canadians to give to charitable organizations, it’s the easiest thing to cut back on when the economy turns bad. And during such difficult economic times, governments are also forced to cut back, and charities are then left ill-prepared to sustain themselves.

Today, government and humanitarian organizations, and entrepreneurs are trying to change the dependency charities have on personal donations and the government. Now, we are seeing the popularization of a newer model — the social enterprise. It is in this new model that other challenges Canada is currently facing may find some resolution.

This video highlights Veterans Manor in Milwaukee, a supportive housing project for military veterans. I’m impressed with this, especially how they incorporate a skills development and enterprise aspect to the building:

Here’s what The Atlantic Cities site wrote:

Onsite counselors from CVI allow residents quick and easy access to support and guidance. In addition, the facility features a commercial kitchen cooking 22,000 meals weekly for local schools, according to Sam Newberg’s Joe Urban blog, while offering training for the veterans in the food service industry. The kitchen, which also cooks for residents, is operated by the nonprofit Milwaukee Center for Independence. The Center’s training program includes both classroom training and daily functional work activity.  Soon to come is a bistro-style Troop Cafe that will offer meals to the community.

This passage from Veterans Manor’s website speaks to the importance of addressing veterans’ homelessness:

One of the first lessons learned in the military is “Leave no comrade behind.”

Yet many veterans find themselves “left behind” when they leave the service. The VA estimates that 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night and that over the course of a full year, approximately twice that many will experience homelessness.