Adam Levene’s Wired article puts it brilliantly: while pitching, presenting or just thinking on their idea, many entrepreneurs include a “for a better world” stance. But many products and services that eventually arise do not have a major influence on a social well-being scale. For that reason, those good intents cannot be taken as the actual purpose of the project (and there is nothing wrong with it, other stating that you are saving the world when the reality of the project is different).
Still, those statements are an evidence that the concerns with the surrounding world are becoming ever more relevant, particularly for younger generations. Today’s businesses are not valued only by their products’ characteristics, but also by their message. We no longer see that a business is successful seldom by its profitability, but also by its positioning regarding society. Innovation, disruption, tech (and all other nice terms linked to entrepreneurship) are a mean to act and to create solutions for problems that affect our societies such as social inequality and climate change. So entrepreneurship communities are, more than ever, embracing the concept of Impact entrepreneurship.
Impact combines a project that aims at providing a service or product that may be deemed with social well-being, whilst also seeking to attain profit. Whereas a social entrepreneurship may be fully funded by donations and contributions to provide a service for free, impact entrepreneurs will create a company that focus on developing a self-sufficient business. But that product or service has a social effect. Another difference is that social entrepreneurship usually takes a form of a NGO or some other sort of social association/organization with a not for profit purpose (or non-profit), whereas the Impact takes the form of a company, just like any other business.
To distinguish what is impact, what is social, what is “not for profit” is a bit foggy (as in so many other things in life). It is common to see uses of impact that are closer to the pure social entrepreneurship, depending on the author’s views. What really matters is that there are many options on the table and it’s up to you to make a good blend!
And if your project does not have a social effect, that is ok. Many projects out there don’t; and we still need good solutions that solve our day-to-day needs.