14 April 2020
14 April 2020
With the economy (and all of “us” who the economy exists to serve) still in shock and being triaged by the ‘ambulance’ of governments, we still have a way to go before we recover. Best we start thinking about that now..
One of the defining pivot points in this pandemic is the turning on the axis of many beliefs and myths around innovation and how innovation is taught in business schools, accelerators and entrepreneurship programs. To now, novelty has been more important than usefulness – investment has been directed at lifestyle tech innovation with a focus on convenience rather than solutions that improve the lives of the world’s majority. We are paying a heavy price for this now (credit to Gillian Marcelle’s thought piece here).
Now is not a time for government, business, finance, and the community sector to bunker down and narrow their perspective; if ever a situation called for innovation and taking risks on new ideas its this crisis. But not the traditional form of “innovation”. Social outcomes need to be accounted for in innovating for a new economy – not just jobs+growth.
Economic and social development link to well being, the two are inextricably linked.. Growth comes from well being. In a WA context, an impact/outcomes measurement framework to account for these elements of innovation could easily be aligned to the existing WA Govt ‘WA Outcomes Measurement Framework’ for communities, and the ‘WA Our Priorities’ (which have been set aside indefinitely by the Govt as it re-orients almost entirely to crisis response and funding.
Dealing with the COVID19 recovery and regeneration phase should not mean dealing only with “crisis measures” or “crisis impact”. They require forward thinking.
Community led and impact driven responses are about financial and social inclusion..recovery and regeneration is what we do every day, crisis or not. In a sense everything we do in this movement is about mopping up the mess left by crises.. economic, social, health, environmental or otherwise. Doubling down on these sectors now would be a bloody good crisis response.
Where our governments re-orient all funding and policy away from important social and community regeneration investment and pivot to crisis response only, there is a great risk of throwing out or setting aside the good policy and funding that we crucially need through the recovery and regeneration phase. They need to work together, walk and chew gum so to speak.
Social enterprise, social innovation and impact measurement was born for this time. The economic value and social impact of local manufacturing and jobs through employment based social enterprises in particular cannot be underestimated at this time, or at any time in the future. The coronavirus is showing us that. These businesses create resilience in the system.
Social, innovation and regeneration outcomes can take 5-10 years to realise benefit. In response to the disruption opportunity presented by COVID, funders at all levels and sectors including government can move on from tired old short term, election cycle and PR-piece oriented grant and project funding, and forward onto long term funding that builds capacity within our communities and industries for regeneration and economic diversification.
Election cycle oriented funding, reports, acquittals and PR opportunities are often at cross purposes with the long term systems change outcomes funders are seeking from their investees. We would also do well in a time of crisis, recovery and regeneration to lose the frustrating and sometimes counter-productive or even punitive ‘matched funding’ requirement of many funders in the next phase. At this critical time, the innovators, entrepreneurs, connectors and capacity builders that are needed to support our communities forward shouldn’t be hobbled by running around and trying to cobble together matched funding.
Impact Seed is Western Australia’s peak impact investment, impact measurement & social enterprise market builder. Since 2015 we have supported impact businesses, government, not-for-profits, foundations and family offices in building, articulating and investing in purpose driven businesses and projects, bridging investment and philanthropy.
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