How To Solve Economic Problems

For instance, if you’re going to sell hydroelectric power in an emerging market, how could community-based groups come into the picture?

Are you leveraging different forms of capital, whether through not-for-profit or international development networks? Increasingly, we are seeing corporations partner with civil society organizations, other businesses or international donors.

This initiative is focused on enabling entrepreneurship in rural India and increasing awareness of the importance of hand-washing, with an end goal of reducing infant mortality.

Increasingly, the distinction between social enterprises and market innovators is going to be harder to make.

A prime example here is Unilever, which has been introducing its products into markets at the bottom of the pyramid in recent years.

It started Project Shakti as part of its efforts to introduce Lifebuoy soap in India.

By erasing private-public sector boundaries, the ‘Solution Economy’ is unlocking trillions of dollars in value.

Another example is what Safaricom—one of the leading integrated communications companies in Africa—is doing in Kenya.Seattle’s Fare Start is a good example: this catering company and restaurant is staffed by cooks hired through a job placement program.It has flourished, supporting the delivery of more than five million meals to the disadvantaged.The way the Solution Economy players approach problems is very different from the way governments have historically operated.In particular, the people involved fully expect to be able to make an impact in a reasonable period of time.The goal is for the business to eventually be self-sustaining, but in the early days, trade-offs are usually accepted with respect to financial return.That is not to say that an altruistic agenda precludes sound business savvy.We found that there is a new, more collaborative economic system emerging that has a distinct ‘solution orientation’ around solving big problems.We call it the Solution Economy, and the players include business, government, philanthropy, and social enterprise.The grass-roots citizen- powered movement plays a key role, as well.Everyday citizens now have the ability—through the Internet and social media—to get involved and take on big problems.

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