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 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 developing innovative models for "regional impact economy," and has advanced "place-based" tools, such as the "public benefit enterprise zone." In September 2017, we launched a strategic initiative, XVii, which focuses on innovations and investment that advance the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with a thought leadership summit on SDG 2 (Sustainable Food and Agriculture), and in January 2018 we announced our SDG business incubator, Impact Inside, for entrepreneurs in universities and co-working hubs. In July 2018 we hosted an international leadership summit with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, which drew 45 senior figures in philanthropy and systems thinking from three continents to the Center's home in the Berkshires.
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, most recently, at 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 started to become a potent global movement!
And we are just getting started!
Having, in our first seven years, successfully defined and established the impact entrepreneur as a foundational concept and vocational movement, having created the premier global network of systems-minded innovators, having worked with a wide range of innovative companies, organizations and impact investors, and having launched a global & regional Center of operations, we are now in the midst of launching an ambitious 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 further establish itself as the impact space leader.
2. Pilot our Impact Inside business incubator.
3. Expand our on-site programming, often in partnership with other thought-leading organizations and institutions in the impact space.
4. Launch a webinar series, featuring the most well-respected figures in the impact space.
5. Begin planning for our new global Center building, which will provide a permanent base of operations for our global and regional initiatives.
6. Launch our first Integrated Impact Finance Vehicle (IIFV or "iffy") to provide funding for exceptional early stage impact companies.
So far, Impact Entrepreneur's development has been self-financed. These new initiatives, however, will require additional sources of capital in addition to the revenue we see from program fees, sponsorships, and consulting. As a for-benefit company living on the cutting edge of a transformed economy, we want to experiment with our new integrated finance model on ourselves, and are seeking a range of funding, from philanthropic gifts and grants to program/mission related investments, as well as convertible notes and equity investments to help us roll with our Phase II initiatives.
Email or phone us for further details.
Laurie Lane-Zucker, Founder & CEO, Impact Entrepreneur