Mission & History
To create and support a global movement of impact entrepreneurs who are building an "impact economy" populated by triple bottom line businesses fueled by impact investments.
History - from our founder
2011 was the year the "impact entrepreneur" was born.
Until that time, social entrepreneurship had rarely been placed within a context of systems change. As an entrepreneur, I had experienced first-hand the sense of dislocation and frustration that came from trying to build a triple bottom line company (one of the first B Corporations) in the conventional, single bottom line-dominated business world. It wasn't easy, nor pretty. Furthermore, as a career professional in the sustainability field, well-versed in the major social and environmental challenges of the time, I felt a real sense of urgency about the need to transform the way we do business in the world — that our business needed to be the "business of change."
Defining impact entrepreneurship as "social entrepreneurship 2.0," and declaring that changemakers needed to be as focused on collaboratively building a supportive business paradigm and ecosystem —an impact economy — that can hold mission-driven businesses as they are on building the businesses themselves, Impact Entrepreneur was launched as the first international network of "systems-minded" entrepreneurs, investors, scholars and students of social and environmental innovation.
Working from my home office tucked up against the forests of the Berkshire Hills, 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 interview and speaking requests followed. 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 heard from increasing numbers of entrepreneurs and investors who had business development needs. In 2015, Impact Entrepreneur's consulting arm was launched to leverage the vast Network and our 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.
In 2016, we launched the Impact Entrepreneur Center so we could expand the ways we serve our global network and establish a year-round gathering place for impact entrepreneurs, investors and scholars from around the world. As a think tank, the Center has been engaged in leading edge work arond the notion of an "impact economy," and has advanced place-based tools, such as the "public benefit enterprise zone." In 2017, we launched our on-site programs with a leadership summit focused on Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Hunger, Food & Agriculture). Highlights of 2018 included an international leadership summit we hosted in partnership with Rockfeller Philanthropy Advisors, and a published report on that summit. Also in 2018, we launched two webinar series, featuring the leading thinkers and practioners of impact.
We 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 the University of Vermont's 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!
Laurie Lane-Zucker, Founder & CEO, Impact Entrepreneur