The Phoenix Economy: 50 Pioneers in the Business of Social Innovation

Volans Ventures Ltd, London, UK; 2009.

If you are looking for concrete examples of social enterprise, flick through this report. “The Phoenix Economy” features fifty examples of social innovation pioneers including businesses, financial investment houses, and governments. According to the report, the chosen fifty “create value blends across the triple bottom line agenda.” Some of the pioneers are household names including Google, General Electric, and GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceuticals. Many examples deal with the environment. For a case in point, Google is harnessing its creative talents to find renewable energy sources that can be produced more cheaply than coal (Google’s ‘RE

The Phoenix list also includes an Academy Award winning film production house, Participant Media, which produced Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth to alert mainstream audiences to the potential devastation of climate change. The list features a prominent venture capital firm engaged in early stage investments in green technologies as well as new business models to serve the poor. For example, India’s Aravind Eye Care System offers a tiered payment model to allow it to treat over 1.4 million patients a year, two-thirds of them for free.

Although each example has an interesting story, they have not coalesced into a new economy. To encourage such widespread change, Volans includes a ‘Phoenix ‘Manifesto’ for political leaders, a ‘Prospectus’ for business leaders and investors, and a ‘Syllabus’ for business educators. Although the short profiles of each of the enterprises leave many questions unanswered, the report is a handy reference for new forms of social investment.

To access the report see: www.volans.com

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