Two decades of impact: How social entrepreneurs have improved 622 million lives

Published
10 Nov 2017

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is advancing social innovation worldwide.

The impact.

The Schwab Foundation 2020 Impact Report showcases that the community has reached 622 million people in over 190 countries to sustainably improve lives and livelihoods.

• Over $6.7 billion has been distributed to individuals through equitable loans, or from the sale of products which have created value and enhanced livelihoods by improving healthcare or providing time saving solutions, education and clean home lighting.

• Over 192 million tonnes of CO2 have been mitigated through the respondents’ enterprises – equivalent to taking more than 40.7 million passenger vehicles off the road for a year.

• 58% of organizations actively adopting systems change strategies in their work to change policies and regulation; shift market forces to be more equitable, inclusive and affordable; and develop multi-stakeholder coalitions to address root-causes and develop holistic approaches.

Indirect benefits that have emerged through the efforts of social entrepreneurs extend to additional hundreds of millions of people, especially through increased economic opportunities, better social protection, improved incomes of primary household earners, and better government policies.

For example, one social entrepreneur is addressing the alarming density of plastic in the oceans. Tom Szaky, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of TerraCycle, has announced a major new initiative called “Loop”, in partnership with some of the world’s largest plastics producers: Unilever, Nestlé and Suez among others, to design packages that can be reused at least 100 times.

What’s the challenge?

Innovative social entrepreneurs are addressing the world’s most serious challenges ranging from illiteracy to water and sanitation, girls’ education, prison reform, financial inclusion and disaster relief. To achieve maximum impact and start to address root causes, they need greater visibility, credibility, access to finance, favourable policy decisions, and, in some cases, a better understanding of global affairs.

Our approach.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship was founded in 1998 to provide the world’s most promising social entrepreneurs with global exposure, and to facilitate wider adoption and scaling-up of their innovations. There are nearly 400 social innovators in the community, globally selected through the Social Innovator of the Year Award in the following categories:
• Social Entrepreneurs of the Year
• Corporate Social Intrapreneurs of the Year
• Public Social Intrapreneurs of the Year
• Social Innovation Thought Leaders of the Year

The Schwab Foundation helps advance the field of social entrepreneurship towards more systemic change in three ways:

• Global visibility through the recognition, legitimacy and inclusion at World Economic Forum events
• Peer support through the Foundation’s community of like-minded social entrepreneurs
• Exposure to leading-edge knowledge and methods, which enable more strategic and systemic approaches

Recent awardees are tackling problems like refugee family reunification, blood delivery by drones, and the protection of oceans and wildlife.

How can you get involved?

The Schwab Foundation recognizes that social innovation takes place throughout multiple sectors and dimensions.

While the Schwab Foundation does not accept unsolicited applications for all award categories, our global network of experts, partner institutions, and World Economic Forum constituents and business members are invited to nominate outstanding social entrepreneurs.

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