From Shareholder Value to Social Entrepreneurship

Milton Friedman once famously wrote “The business of business is business.” Of course, the Chicago School heavily influenced something we came to see as Shareholder Value. Shareholder Value had the tendency to focus on shareholders and not too much on stakeholders.

The end of the stockmarket bubble in the early 2000s, a financial crisis starting in 2008 or the feeling of increased economic disparity contributed to the feeling that something has to be changed. That change came among others in the form of social entrepreneurship.

Social entrepreneurship solves social issues and societal problems by applying business techniques. The visible success of the social enterprises supported and promoted by fellowship associations such as the Skoll Foundation, Ashoka or the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship has helped social entrepreneurship to gain a prominent role in policy debates and to become an investment focus for foundations and venture philanthropy funds.

Social enterprises have developed fascinating business models. Specialisterne employs persons in the autism spectrum as software tester. Dialogue employs blind persons in a wide range of activities built around them (museums, workshops, etc.). Discovering Hands uses the special abilities of blind women to use in screening procedures.

Social entrepreneurship is migrating in mainstream business – what is yet to come?

Social enterprises have an enormous impact on mainstream business. Customers have been incredibly forceful in changing the way companies operate around the world as they used their purchasing power to increase pressure. When you visit garment factories nowadays in Bangladesh they proudly show you their CSR credentials.

Governments are starting to use their purchasing power to drive social change. European regulations allow them to consider local, social and economic criteria in their purchasing decisions. Given the billions of public procurement budgets it will have a major impact.

Businesses are starting programs to use their global footprint to drive social impact. Foundations are looking for more entrepreneurial charities and are increasingly applying new financing strategies to the solution of social problems.

Next Generation Impact

That’s the starting point for Next Generation Impact which understands itself as part of a new generation of hybrid impact companies.

Next Generation Impact (NGI) was created to create social impact and follows a hybrid strategy in multiple dimensions. The underlying belief is that social impact is not tied to a certain activity or legal form but can be achieved in a number of ways.

NGI advises public sector institutions, foundations, social enterprises and companies on strategies to create social impact. NGI is a founding shareholder of Sports Philosophy and supporter of the Freedom of Children Foundation.  NGI is also working on a number of new ventures. A children’s furniture brand will be launched later this summer and part of the profits will be used to fund projects against child labour.

The people around and behind Next Generation ImpactWolfgang Spiess-Knafl

NGI follows a platform strategy and is working together with a number of people in different settings. Over the coming months more people will join NGI.

At the moment, Wolfgang Spiess-Knafl is your contact at the company. Before his current position he worked as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Civil Society Center at the Zeppelin University headed by Stephan A. Jansen. Work there included studies for the European Commission, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as well as the King Baudouin Foundation. He gave lectures on the non-profit sector and non-profit management for graduate students as well on intersectoral challenges and social change in Executive Master Programs at the Zeppelin University.

Wolfgang studied management engineering at the University of Technology in Vienna with study years spent at PUC Rio de Janeiro and INSA Rouen.

After completing his studies in he worked as a financial analyst for Morgan Stanley in Frankfurt. Deals included capital increases, capital market advisory, divestments and acquisitions for German and Austrian companies.

In 2009 he started working on his doctoral studies at the Chair of Ann-Kristin Achleitner at the Technische Universität München. His doctoral thesis covered the financing strategies of social enterprises and was one of the early works in this field.