Yes, You Can Create Positive Impact While Driving Financial Returns

Screenshot of the Impact Unplugged panel

More than ever, businesses and society are calling upon entrepreneurial leaders to navigate through uncertainty and to solve problems. And, these leaders are responding and co-creating a vision for the future.

Entrepreneurial leaders are flexing their creativity and ingenuity to address pressing challenges and achieve impact in a multitude of ways. The power of values-based entrepreneurial leadership has been on full display during Global Entrepreneurial Leadership Week, as the Babson community explored how to advance and amplify approaches through a series of events and conversations.

Two discussions focused on impact, illustrating how entrepreneurial leaders are fostering collaboration, demonstrating creativity, and empowering others.

Listen and Respond

Entrepreneurial leadership starts with collaboration and the inclusion of diverse ideas.

During an Impact Unplugged conversation facilitated by The Lewis Institute, Camille Manning-Broome, president and CEO of the Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX), shared examples of how listening and responding has helped communities adapt to climate change while addressing socioeconomic inequities.

CPEX is a nonprofit working with individual communities in Louisiana to develop and execute plans for transportation and infrastructure, environmental issues, and quality design. Its process and its success are rooted in collaboration. Tackling these tough challenges requires the engagement of multiple stakeholders, including community residents, local and state governments, nonprofits, and global partnerships.

Manning-Broome believes it’s critical for the community to not only have a real voice in determining its future but also to have ownership. “People support what they help create,” she said.

By bringing people and planning together, and truly listening and responding to their needs, CPEX has helped communities drive sustainable, inclusive prosperity.

Innovate Continuously

Entrepreneurial leaders continuously are creating new approaches to deliver impact at scale.

Three Babson alumni helped to unpack the potential of impact investing in another Global Entrepreneurial Leadership Week event, hosted by the Stephen D. Cutler Center for Investments and Finance. The compelling discussion was moderated by Scott Perry MBA’06, a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) and partner, Endowments and Foundations at NEPC, LLC, while Priya Parrish ’05, managing partner at Impact Engine, and Brian Dixon MBA’13, partner at Kapor Capital, shared their experiences as investors.

Through impact investing, entrepreneurial leaders are making meaningful strides forward to close the gaps in access and opportunity that exist in society today. Referencing inequalities in education, health, and financial literacy, Dixon shared examples of recent investments in LendUp, a socially responsible lender working to eliminate predatory payday loans, and Magoosh, which provides access to affordable standardized test preparation.

Impact investors started from environmental, social, and governance considerations and have taken a giant step forward. “It’s actually their investment rationale,” Parrish said. “It is core to their thesis and why they were investing, and they have a plan and a view.”

The takeaway: It is possible to achieve a double bottom line, creating positive impact and driving financial returns simultaneously.

Watch ETLV, the new on-demand video channel featuring entrepreneurial leaders from all parts of the Babson community:

Leaders Empowering Leaders

Entrepreneurial leaders inspire, empower, and mobilize others to take action.

Manning-Broome sees the role of CPEX primarily as a facilitator. Through this deliberate and thoughtful approach, the CPEX team helps to cultivate entrepreneurial leaders in the communities themselves. These leaders will go on to be the champions for implementing a strategic and shared vision of a resilient community that can meet everybody’s needs.

Ultimately, this approach engenders real and lasting change. “We don’t want to just come in and produce a document,” Manning-Broome said. “We want to create a movement.”

“I will say we still have work to do, and I’m really excited about what the next decade looks like for impact investors.”
Brian Dixon MBA’13, partner at Kapor Capital

Similarly, Parrish and Dixon both emphasized the importance of supporting entrepreneurs who are building businesses to address true market failures. This realization is empowering not just mission-minded investors but also these entrepreneurs, who previously may not have been able to find funding. And, impact investors often are engaging with these entrepreneurs at an earlier stage, further helping to activate their potential.

“I’m proud of the work of the last 10 years,” Dixon said. “But, I will say we still have work to do, and I’m really excited about what the next decade looks like for impact investors.”

The problems for entrepreneurial leaders to solve are numerous, and many of them are urgent. But, through the lens of values-based leadership and innovative approaches, entrepreneurial leaders can deliver meaningful impact.

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