Social Innovation

Why the impact economy is a top priority for Brazil

The social economy offers a pathway to a more inclusive and sustainable economic system.

Lift-off … the social economy offers a pathway to a more inclusive and sustainable economic system. Image: Getty Images

Rodrigo Sobral Rollemberg
Secretary of Green Economy, Decarbonization and Bioindustry, Ministry of Development, Industry, Commerce and Services, Brazil
Gisela Maria Bernardes Solymos
Chair, Catalyst 2030 Brazil
Marcel Fukayama
Co-Founder, Sistema B Brazil
Marisol Argueta de Barillas
Head of the Regional Agenda, Latin America; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
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Social Innovation

  • Amid growing wealth inequality, the social economy, made up of businesses that put people and planet first, offers a pathway to a more inclusive and sustainable world.
  • A recent high-level roundtable saw the World Economic Forum present a new report on the social economy to the Brazilian Vice-President.
  • With the recent adoption of the presidential decree ENIMPACTO, Brazil is accelerating action on the impact economy.

As the world grapples with growing wealth inequality and unprecedented temperature anomalies, the social economy offers a pathway to a more inclusive and sustainable economic system. Earlier this year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the first ever resolution recognizing the contribution of the social economy towards sustainable development.

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Further highlighting the importance of this sector, the World Economic Forum, Schwab Foundation, Catalyst 2030 and Aliança pelo Impacto were pleased to co-host the high-level roundtable on Unlocking the Impact Economy in partnership with the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry, Commerce and Services (MDIC) on 8 November. This influential gathering convened approximately 50 decision-makers from government, business and social enterprise to discuss the crucial role of the impact economy in Brazil and its contribution to this government's objectives of promoting inclusivity, equity and a regenerative economic system. In addition to fulfilling the collective mission of fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange, this roundtable showcased Brazil's leadership in the global social economy.

During the roundtable, the World Economic Forum presented its report Unlocking the Social Economy to the office of Geraldo Alckmin, the Vice-President of Brazil. This report sheds light on the potential of the social economy, which currently accounts for about 7% of global GDP and up to 10% of employment rates in certain countries.

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Catalyst 2030 Brazil – the Brazilian chapter of the global Catalyst 2030 organization – adapted the report to Brazil's reality with practical cases from the Brazilian ecosystem that can inspire other Portuguese-speaking and Latin countries. "In a moment of history when bellicosity is increasing and multiple wars are happening, the role of social entrepreneurs is needed more than ever, to promote dialogue and collaboration among different players, across borders and ideologies," says Gisela Solymos, Chair of Catalyst 2030 Brazil. “The Unlocking the Social Economy report highlights the importance of social entrepreneurship for Brazil's economy and offers concrete policy recommendations to strengthen this economy, promoting dialogue with companies and the government.”

The report outlines five key strategies that governments can implement to unlock the social economy's potential:

  • Recognize and build new legal frameworks.
  • Create incentives for funding and investment.
  • Expand education and research.
  • Make public and private procurement channels more inclusive.
  • Collect and share social impact data.

It is notable that Brazil has recently taken significant action on all these five areas with the recent adoption of the presidential decree ENIMPACTO, which establishes the National Impact Economy Strategy and the Impact Economy Committee. The National Impact Economy Strategy includes objectives to expand the supply of capital to impact businesses, generate data on the sector and encourage the inclusion of socio-environmental impact solutions in the supply chains of companies and governments. Monica Pasqualin, representative of Catalyst 2030 Brazil in the ENIMPACTO’s Committee, commends the government for its deep collaboration with sector representatives on the implementation of the strategy. This demonstrates the government's commitment to reconciling economic growth with social inclusion, making it a top priority for Brazil's G20 presidency in 2024.

"We are honoured to collaborate with esteemed partners and the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry, Commerce and Services on this important roundtable," said François Bonnici, Head of Foundations at the World Economic Forum. "The social economy has the potential to reshape our economic landscape by putting people and the planet at the forefront. This event served as a platform to discuss strategies and solutions, driving innovation and collaboration towards a more inclusive and sustainable future."

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What is the World Economic Forum doing to champion social innovation?

Brazil has a real opportunity to be a global leader in showcasing how its rich and successful impact economy paves the way for a more inclusive and sustainable economy. At the Schwab Foundation and World Economic Forum, we stand ready to collaborate with the Brazilian government to position this important agenda on the global stage.

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Social InnovationFairer Economies
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