Creative Communities: Social Impact’s Driving Force
When contemplating social impact’s main surge over the last several years, the one recurring phrase that comes to mind is creativity.
Being around a group of people whose incendiary ideas take over and make things happen is surely something to behold. However, how do such communities form, and what brings them together? Is there a hidden formula or a common goal that they all seem to simply ‘click’ with? Or is it something much deeper and complex that can be pinned down to merely one person or place?
A series of events, such as the dot com burst in the early 2000s, to the global financial crisis almost nine years ago, alongside the turn of the global workforce has surely been a precursor to the burgeoning inflow of social enterprises, not-for-profit initiatives, and innovative tech SMEs flooding the market.
The ability for entrepreneurs to respond creatively to community problems, (whether formed out of vulnerability, or out of a furnace of independence), and create new, valuable alternatives that tackle the root cause of issues, is paramount in creating positive change.
Local examples of innovative initiatives include Navdeep Pasricha’s iYouth project, and the infamous 180 Degree Consulting firm, started by Nat Ware; both initiatives which are changing the conversation of what entrepreneurship looks like, and its impact both nationwide, and around the world.
However, this is not simply confined to the corners of the ‘developed’ world. During my time working in the United States, conversing with CEOs and founders of social impact companies, the one thing that I wanted to find out was how the Asian market had become the biggest powerhouse on the globe. I had to see it for myself. Going on a one-way trip to South Asia, I found out that everything I had once perceived in business was nothing like I had expected when I saw, first-hand, the rapid and radical changes happening on the ground.
From rural villages to the expanding metropolis, the IT boom had overtaken the marketplace to the extent that the entire world had taken notice - evidence of which can be seen by StartUp Hyderabad. While attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2017) in Hi-Tec City against the backdrop of Hyderabad, my hometown, I began to realise the change that social impact initiatives have made to the landscape of society as a whole.
The fact that anyone with an idea worth two cents could put pen to paper and make a difference in society was radical indeed.
Seeing entrepreneurs gathered around a common focus, with tools and resources at hand, forming a movement centred around creativity was impactful in and of itself.
But beyond IT, the market has opened new doors to create social impact. Seeing the creative drive behind incubator programmes for women rescued from human trafficking rings, or young entrepreneurs starting their own micro-enterprises using educational initiatives, to eco-friendly spaces for developing new energy sources, the opportunities for society and the benefits produced for the common individual are markedly improving.
The one thing that remains constant is the need for community. In every social enterprise, non-profit, or corporate social venture that I have seen, a community of individuals centred around an innovative idea that tackles an important community problem is always present.
In Australia, the story is no different – however, the narrative behind such impactful change is quite unique. It seems, however, that much of the responsibility for social impact initiatives within Australian society falls on the shoulders of the younger, millennial generation.
Current trends predict that Generation Y have more social entrepreneurial intent to be involved in positive business ventures than their predecessors. In fact, many of the social impact businesses, ventures and initiatives that have been developed over the last few years have been spearheaded by Australia’s youth. Of course, youth tends to attract other youth, and where there is a platform for change, many take notice.
This driving force for creative change is not based on the premise that “great minds think alike”; but rather, that great minds think for themselves. It is this ‘out-of-the-box’ mindset that attracts pioneering individuals into co-working spaces, social hubs, and creative places that break the mold of the traditional 9-5 career-driven corporate worker.
Terms like ‘digital nomad’ and ‘glocal changemaker’ didn’t exist ten to fifteen years ago, but are slowly becoming socially acceptable ways of working and making a living.
The changes continue to occur, and the trends continue to change.
However, the community of creatives, wherever it is based, whatever form it takes, is not going away so easily. Such a driving force in the community, especially in Australia, will continue to have an impact on the social fabric of our nation. Changes that occur as a result of this creative community will continue to shape the course of our country for the better, and in time, the future of our global marketplace. The core of community is centred around the common goal of creativity, and is one that exponentially expands to include those on the margins, as well as the changemakers and those who are willing to challenge the status quo in order to make a difference.
That impact, that creative community, that cultural change; that’s here to stay.
About the author
Joseph Kolapudi currently works with Interserve Australia, a nonprofit that works across Asia and the Middle East. He also serves as a consultant for a number of different social enterprises, including Enterprising World; as well as nonprofits PourOut, We Think It Matters, Inc., and MissioStrat Global Consulting. In his spare time, he loves to read and write for different online publications. He also had a background in business management, and constantly finds himself travelling to India for both business and pleasure.