Leadership

Young entrepreneurs are motivated by purpose over profit, according to new research

Money might matter less than you thought. Image: Stocksnap.io/Rawpixel

Lee Mannion
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The new generation of global entrepreneurs is going into business motivated by purpose rather than just profit, according to research by the HSBC banking group released on Tuesday.

One in four entrepreneurs aged under 35 said they were more motivated by social impact than by moneymaking, compared to just over one in 10 of those aged over 55, according the results of the HSBC survey.

Image: HSBC

"Our research suggests this is a generational shift," Stuart Parkinson, global chief investment officer of HSBC, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Younger entrepreneurs are focused on environmental and social concerns and that's because they see these values as being their own."

The bank surveyed 3,700 entrepreneurs in 11 countries. One in five said their priority as a business owner was to deliver solutions to environmental and social challenges.

Parkinson said social media had brought greater scrutiny of businesses, while awareness of the social and environmental impacts of business practices had also increased.

"Social enterprise has taken off as this new formula for success, which is this combination of capitalism and doing good, and younger entrepreneurs are clearly leading this," he said.

Social enterprises are businesses with a mission to benefit society or the environment as well as turn a profit and Britain is seen as a global leader in the innovative sector.

Last year it had about 70,000 employing nearly 1 million people last year, according to membership organisation Social Enterprise UK, up from 55,000 businesses in 2007.

Zakia Moulaoui runs the social enterprise Invisible Cities, which employs homeless people as city guides in Edinburgh, and plans to expand the business to Manchester and Glasgow by the end of the year.

The 31-year-old said there was a greater awareness amongst her generation that being able to address social issues and earn an income was possible.

"People who thought they couldn't do that because they needed to make a living for themselves might have just worked in a regular business and volunteered at the weekend, but now people know they can reconcile the two," Moulaoui said.

Britain's Confederation of British Industry (CBI), an employers' group, has found that two thirds of 18- to 34-year-olds think companies should put society's interest first.

"This is a view shared by employees, customers and communities. CEOs of firms of all sizes are clearer than ever before – purpose and profit go hand in hand," said Josh Hardie, deputy director-general of the CBI.

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Related topics:
LeadershipJobs and the Future of WorkSocial InnovationNature and Biodiversity
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