A new generation of business is emerging in the Middle East, profitable businesses that can self-fund and rapidly accelerate their social impact to become “social enterprises.” Some of these leading social innovators were seen at the first-everSocial Enterprise Week in Dubai earlier this year, where over 300 start-ups with their backers gathered to share experiences, pitch their efforts and network.
Two social enterprises are worth a mention. One is Liquid of Life. In the Middle East bottled water is very popular; over 800 million litres are consumed annually in the UAE alone. This has created a large-scale challenge of how to sustainably dispose of plastic bottles. This is where Liquid of Life comes in. It offers a filtration system that replaces plastic water coolers with bottle-free water dispensers. Thirty companies in the Emirates, including Microsoft and Fraser Suites Hotel, have already signed on.
Next up is KarmSolar who has partnered with a leading water-engineering firm in Princeton, New Jersey to create solar-powered pumping and storage processes accessible in the desert. KarmSolar will tap into the large source of fresh water that lies beneath Egypt’s deserts, which will benefit the farmers in this region who till now, have been limited to grow more food.
In the U.S. the concept of social enterprises have been around for several decades, and there has been an explosion of new communities to support the growth of these types of businesses. One recent launch is Investors’ Circle New York; it is a new local impact investing network that will allow for in-person networking and deal review for Investors’ Circle members and guest impact investors in the New York metro area. It will support monthly engagement with other New York investors and impact entrepreneurs while supporting New York’s marketplace.
IC NYC will create local tools to support and scale promising impact enterprises in the New York area in a broad sectors of interest from energy and environment; sustainable consumer products; to education, impact software & media, global health & wellness; and community & economic development. Many social enterprises globally struggle to survive and grow due to inadequate business and market expertise, which are common challenges internationally. This is why infrastructures like IC NYC and the Social Enterprise Week in Dubai are key because they create bridgesthat bring thinkers, innovators and leaders together, to shape the future of social enterprise in that particular region/country. Platforms like these play an important role in empowering the next generation of social entrepreneurs.
Photo Credit: Park Green Com Group