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The Need for Social Innovation: Why It Still Matters

Today in 2015 we face many of the same challenges we faced a century or even thousands of years ago. News releases, new reports, and ever-changing statistics suggest that we have solved the majority of humanities problems and the rest is simply a numbers game. The implication being that given enough time current activities and solutions are sufficient to continue to eradicate hunger, poverty, and other global issues. This could not be further from the truth. Although we have made significant progress and accomplished great things over the past 15 years much of perceived progress is a result of other factors. For instance a rapidly increasing population will automatically reduce the percent of people in poverty or hunger by sheer pool size. Another such example is the extreme poverty measure we have set as 1.25 a day. While there are fewer people below this metric it is questionable as to whether this has accounted for inflation and whether 1.25 a day is anywhere near sufficient for sustenance particular for a family. This is not to say that these challenges are insolvable or that we are making no progress. Rather, it suggests that traditional mechanisms to solve social problems are no longer enough.

The sheer vastness of the challenges we face today suggest that the solutions we create to solve them have to be more innovative, ambitious, and inclusive. In order to tackle issues like climate change, poverty, inequality, and violence we cannot leave it all to government or non-profits or business. Rather, all these sectors need to collaborate and collectively pool their resources in order to efficiently create solutions. Hence, the need for social innovation: an ideas or business that can bring together different stakeholders and sectors by aligning their goals. Rather than pitting sectors against each other it almost forces them to collaborate to create a greater impact. Many people find social innovation or shared value to be simple buzzwords and in some circumstances they may be. But the underlying concept is brilliant and absolutely crucial for humanity to take the next steps in solving the world’s largest problems.

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