TED Talks: Businesses Can Help Solve Social Problems

This video is part one of 2 TED Talks I want to feature on the role of business and market theories in solving social problems, in light of the recent success of some local company dear to my heart (/shameless self promotion).

After working in both the non-profit and private sector, I’ve become a firm believer in the potential for corporations and for-profit businesses with good people to make a positive impact in the world. In the environmental and liberal communities especially, too often the business community as a whole is denigrated for past mistakes or modern bad apples. But the potential impact of a successful, mission-driven company is enormous and the value it brings to scalability and the impact it can have in terms of local jobs and profit should not be ignored.

Why do we turn to nonprofits, NGOs and governments to solve society’s biggest problems? Michael Porter admits he’s biased, as a business school professor, but he wants you to hear his case for letting business try to solve massive problems like climate change and access to water. Why? Because when business solves a problem, it makes a profit — which lets that solution grow.

Michael E. Porter wrote the books on modern competitive strategy for business. Now he is thinking deeply about the intersection between society and corporate interests.


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