News Highlights: How leaders can harness the power of finance and technology for social well-being
- A new need is emerging for inclusive growth.
- A cross-sectoral movement that combines mindset shifts with technology and funding is at the forefront.
- Business leaders will need to cultivate a ‘business’ mindset to make building a new era of inclusion and sustainability a reality.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet social innovation today is accelerating our ability to transform the way businesses create value for society in the future. A new need is emerging for inclusive growth.
International private investment in emerging economies declined 30% in 2020, while the poorest countries struggled with pre-2015 levels of SDG investment activity.
With very uncertain outlook for the SDGs, the world faces a turning point in rebuilding a future that works for the 99%.
A cross-sectoral movement that blends mindset shifts with technology and funding is one way to accelerate progress towards a sustainable future for all.
When world leaders gather in Singapore this summer to address the global pandemic recovery, the World Economic Forum’s agenda cannot be as usual. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, women and disadvantaged communities were left behind in an alarming way by the capital markets.
Finance and technology are back at the center of this year’s agenda, but how will the discussion change in light of the COVID reset and business leaders have the necessary ‘business-worthy mindsets’ to embark on a new era of inclusion and sustainability to build?
Business for Peace coined the term ‘business worthy’ as an appreciation to describe value-driven business behavior. Being a business is the ethical and responsible application of business energy with the aim of creating both social and economic value.
While investments in SDGs have fallen well below pre-2015 levels, Greenfield’s investments in SDG sectors in developing and transition economies are now 27% lower than before 2015 does not mean that we are starting from scratch.
Significant advances during the Fourth Industrial Revolution and in impact investing have shown how technology and finance can be harnessed for the poorest.
And now more than ever, business leaders have a responsibility to change the course of growing inequality – especially after the COVID reset – and help democratize access to capital for social welfare.
There is hope in the way finance and technology are used together to help investors and businesses respond effectively to the needs of the world’s poorest. These signs of innovation and collaboration could lay the foundation for a COVID-resilient future – an agenda that could truly outstrip the COVID-19 era.
Through global platforms such as the World Economic Forum’s COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, or The Future of Business program of the Business for Peace Foundationcompanies are finding new ways to argue for a sustainable future.
Through the WEF COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, organizations such as Salesforce and Impact Investment Exchange work together to mobilize resources and actions and support social entrepreneurs. In this way, they can be critical first responders on the COVID-19 crisis.
Salesforce.org has helped more than 49,000 nonprofits, educational, and philanthropic organizations progress across all SDGs using technology.
By listening to our communities and giving them access to the COVID-19 Resource Center on the AppExchange, we’ve helped them manage the health and safety of their constituents and students and keep their operations running.
Impact Investment Exchange uses a digital impact verification tool, IIX Values, which helps investors and businesses listen directly to the women and disadvantaged communities dealing with finance. It turns their voice into information that investors and companies can use to make better decisions, allocate capital and attribute financial value to social and environmental impact.
The WEF COVID Response Alliance, which brings together 82 global leaders, is just the beginning of a larger movement to envision a future where women, the environment and disadvantaged communities are seen by businesses and investors alike as pieces of the COVID resilience puzzle.
A critical mass of business actions
But these breakthroughs are only the fundamentals; we must ensure that innovations in technology and finance are applied to solve the problems of the 99%.
Without the governance, incentives and leadership of the world’s economic leaders, these solutions will be a drop in the ocean for inclusive growth.
The Forum predicts that women’s economic equality will last for 170 years, and this trend has been exacerbated by the pandemic. It is now time to step in and break these negative trends in the wake of the COVID reset.
Business leaders are already on board through initiatives such as Business for Peace Build a better business call to action, with award winners such as IIX’s CEO Durreen Shahnaz to Laerdal Medical’s Chairman Tore Laerdal and Imagine co-founder Paul Polman highlighting important themes. These include investment and support for SMEs and disadvantaged communities, increased participation of women in the economy and a greater focus on racial harmony and inclusion.
Salesforce powers GAVI’s COVAX country engagement platform, which will help them manage critical information and fairly distribute approximately two billion COVID-19 vaccines to 190 countries by the end of 2021.
Looking ahead, it is the duty of leaders coming together through the Forum to drive the next era of sustainability by harnessing the power of finance and technology for social good.
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