This post was originally featured on Huffington Post ImpactX
This week, I’m excited to be a part of the SOCAP15 (Social Capital Markets) annual conference. This event convenes more than 2,000 impact investors, world-class entrepreneurs, and incubator managers, working together to create a better future through social entrepreneurship and impact investing. When you’re surrounded by the world’s leading social innovators, it’s impossible not to be inspired by the energy and the “what if” possibilities all around us.
For example, what if we empowered a new generation of global problem solvers to innovate rapidly? And then, what if we enabled them to use their innovations to bring creative ideas to market and launch startups that generate more jobs through a global incubator network?
In a recent blog post, I talked about youth unemployment—74 million unemployed youth globally in 2014 (International Labour Organization, 2014)—and a recent Gartner Study that defines the landscape of job opportunities related to the Internet of Everything (IoE). In order for countries to thrive in the new economy fueled by IoE and digitization, we must address not only unemployment but also job creation.
Today, I want to share the UBI Global Social Benchmark 2015 Report developed in partnership with Cisco Corporate Affairs. The goal of this benchmark is to better understand and measure the success of social incubators using over 40 key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success factors, such as the value created for the participating client start-ups as well as the economic and social impact.
According to the UBI report, social incubators have created more than 90,000 jobs over the last five years. Job creation will no doubt play a crucial role in addressing the global unemployment challenge, including jobs created within social enterprises.
Social incubators not only create economic impact but also have impact in other sectors, such as healthcare, education, and the environment. As the number of social incubation programs increase in the global incubation sector, there is a greater need to help programs improve and help others start. Benchmarking can help us understand best practices across social incubators and, in turn, help us make them better and create more jobs. Establishing a benchmark also enables the surfacing and sharing of data-driven best practices in order to catalyze a network of incubators for social innovation.
Cultivating a global incubator network would help people from all backgrounds bring creative ideas to market and launch startups that generate more jobs—and would also align to the growing interest among youth for entrepreneurship. Fifty-four percent of millennials (18-34 years) either want to start a business or have already started one (Kauffman, 2011).
A focus on socially minded businesses is also in line with the growing belief that a company’s purpose should focus not only on shareholder profit but also on societal and environmental impact. Today, only six percent of the global population believes a company should focus on profit alone (Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR Study, 2013). Cultivating a socially minded, global incubator network could be even more powerful. Social incubators can not only produce positive economic value, but can also help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues.
Imagine the number of jobs that could be created if all socially focused incubator programs improved. Imagine if this incubator network reached new target audiences—individuals that may not have had access to these types of programs previously. What new ideas might arise and flourish as a result? What if the ecosystem surrounding the incubators included institutions that provide individuals with cutting-edge technology skills?
There is no telling where the next great idea can arise. Providing individuals with multiple pathways and resources to find work or foster ideas that both create jobs and address social challenges can have significant impact. Ultimately, this helps address the unemployment challenge.
At Cisco, one of the things we’re committed to—and I’m passionate about—is creating global, long-lasting impact. Together, we can launch a new generation of global problem solvers who innovate as technologists, think as entrepreneurs, and act as social change agents.
Watch this blog and follow Cisco CSR on Twitter as we continue to discuss ways to multiply impact and bring positive change in the world.