Annual Report and Appeal
it began in 2011...
That was the year the "impact entrepreneur" was born. Until that time, social entrepreneurship, valuable though it is, was rarely placed in a context of systems change. Defining impact entrepreneurship as "social entrepreneurship 2.0," and declaring that sustainable and equitable business innovators needed to be as focused on collaboratively building a supportive business paradigm and ecosystem that can hold mission-driven businesses as they were on building the businesses themselves, I launched Impact Entrepreneur as the first international network of "systems-minded" entrepreneurs, investors, scholars and students of social and environmental innovation.
I used the young LinkedIn platform to build the network, establishing a group and publishing articles on impact entrepreneurship and impact investing. The pieces found a growing readership. Gradually, impact entrepreneurship as a concept began to take hold and I received interview and speaking requests from different parts of the world. Colleges and universities became interested in IE.
As the Network grew into the thousands, and our now award-winning LinkedIn group became one of the "go-to" places for cutting-edge thinking and networking in the rapidly emerging impact space, I was hearing from increasing numbers of entrepreneurs and investors who had business development needs. In 2015, I started Impact Entrepreneur's consulting arm so I could leverage the vast Network and my knowledge of impact enterprise and investing to assist some of the most remarkable of these impact initiatives in fundraising, market expansion, publicity and other areas.
Last year, we launched the Impact Entrepreneur Center so we could expand the ways we serve our global community's needs, as well as to establish a year-round gathering place for impact entrepreneurs, investors and scholars in the U.S. northeast corridor, including those in Boston and New York. As a think tank, the Center has been developing innovative models for "regional impact economy," and has advanced "place-based" tools, such as the "public benefit enterprise zone." This past September, we launched an anchor program series, XVii, which focuses on innovations and investment that advance the Sustainable Development Goals, with a thought leadership summit on SDG 2 (Sustainable Food and Agriculture).
I have been asked to present this work in a variety of forums, including at Opal and Ivy Family Office Conferences and the Sustainatopia Impact Investing Conference, as well as at colleges and universities like MIT, Middlebury, UMass, Brown, NYU and, most recently, at the University of Vermont's #1 rated Sustainable Innovation MBA Program, where I accepted an invitation to join the Advisory Board.
Most exciting of all, we have found that increasing numbers of people around the world have begun calling themselves "impact entrepreneurs" and the term is being widely used in media accounts of the space and increasingly at universities.
It is fair to say that impact entrepreneurship has become a potent global movement!
And we are just getting started!
Having, in our first six years, successfully defined and established the impact entrepreneur as a foundational concept and vocational movement, having created what is arguably the premier global network in the impact space, having worked with a wide range of innovative companies and impact investors, and having launched a global/ regional Center of operations, we now look to 2018 as the beginning of Phase II of Impact Entrepreneur's work.
Among our goals for this new phase are to:
1. Grow the network beyond its current rate of 100 new members/week to remain the impact space leader.
2. Establish a global network of IE satellite Centers with year-round, on-site programming.
3. Launch an online webinar series and podcast.
4. Expand our communications to Network members (i.e. regular newsletter; newsfeed on website).
5. Expand our consulting capacity/offerings for Network client companies.
6. Expand our collaborative efforts with partner organizations and institutions.
7. Undertake foundational research for our pilot regional impact economy model.
8. Launch our first Integrated Impact Finance Vehicle (IIFV or "iffy") to provide funding for exceptional early stage impact companies.
So far, I have financed Impact Entrepreneur's work myself. We have not had one cent of outside funding. These new initiatives, however, will require additional sources of capital, in significant amounts, in addition to the revenue we will see from program fees, sponsorships, and consulting. So this is why, for the first time, I am asking our Network members to donate funds to support Impact Entrepreneur's Phase II work through the newly launched Impact Entrepreneur Fund. The more funding we raise the faster and further we can move on the above stated goals.
So I ask you to click on the link above (the black Donate box) and be as generous as you can. Remember that every dollar you provide will help our Impact Entrepreneur movement to grow and flourish like never before.
Thanks so much!
Laurie Lane-Zucker, Founder & CEO, Impact Entrepreneur