Today, I’m announcing that the World Resources Institute (WRI) has stepped down as co-managing partner of the NextBillion network. The William Davidson Institute (WDI) will continue to direct the network of sites as sole manager of NextBillion, along with continued input and involvement from our Content Partners.
For NextBillion readers and the broader community, this shift in management will not change our commitment to bring you a wide spectrum of perspectives, news, job listings and event opportunities focused on market-based solutions to poverty and other critical needs around the world. In fact, as I announced earlier and as many readers hopefully have noticed, NextBillion is expanding with the launch of NextBillion Health Care – a new blog featuring systematic and business-oriented solutions to expanding access to affordable medical care for the underserved. WDI will continue to invest in and grow the NextBillion network, and remain true to the mission that we share with our active community.
WRI founded NextBillion in 2005. At the time, the notion of triple-bottom-line enterprises was largely a foreign concept. But through NextBillion, WRI provided one of the first online resources for knowledge and understanding of sustainable businesses that serve the poor, improve the environment and generate profits. By creating NextBillion, and later NextBillion en Español, WRI helped create the foundation for understanding and knowledge that today supports base of the pyramid strategies and action.
As many of you may already know, WRI announced in September that it would conclude its role as coordinator for the New Ventures (NV) global network at the end of 2012. Founded by WRI in 1999, NV is a global network of enterprise acceleration centers – based in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia and Mexico – that spur the growth of entrepreneurial approaches to the challenges of sustainable development. Its vision has been to create a new, recognized asset class of enterprises creating positive impacts on the economy, the environment and society.
After 13 years WRI is transferring full ownership of New Ventures’ operations to its local partners, who will continue the mission on the ground. NV has stated that one of the main reasons for this strategic shift was to ensure independence of local programs and their long-term viability in the markets that need them most.
When WRI first launched NV, terms like “impact investing“ and “social entrepreneurship” were yet to be coined. Over the past decade, we’ve seen the emergence of new organizations supporting entrepreneurship and private sector development, including associations like ANDE and GIIN, incubator/accelerator programs like Village Capital and Artemisia in Brazil, and impact funds like Ignia Fund and Grassroots Business Fund. There’s no doubt WRI’s and NV’s pioneering work helped to grow this new industry, while demonstrating that small and medium-sized enterprises with positive environmental and social impact can be profitable.
Still, in an increasingly resource-constrained world, the scale that needs to be achieved to support truly sustainable, inclusive growth remains far from our reach. As WRI’s recent “Voices of the Entrepreneurs” report notes, entrepreneurs continue to struggle with a range of challenges inhibiting their success and driving the need for organizations like NV now more than ever.
I am very thankful for the breadth and depth of the voices and views WRI and NV have illuminated on NextBillion’s pages over the years. You can read or re-read their many past posts by clicking here and access older articles with the sorting function at the top of the page.
I wish New Ventures and the World Resources Institute well on their overlapping goals of protecting the earth, promoting development, and advancing sustainable enterprise.