RENEW Strategies

What Are RENEW's Social Goals?

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Joshua Weissburg
| February 26, 2010

That is a question that we, the RENEW team, have asked each other many times - and one that is common to most investors who approach African businesses with a social lens. Without question, we see tremendous opportunity for specific kinds of businesses to, say, revolutionize healthcare delivery or provide clean, affordable energy to rural areas.

But there is a more fundamental idea that drives RENEW's model - and helps us keep in check the temptation to define exactly how social change should occur. Carl Schramm, president of the Kauffman Foundation, captures it succinctly in his article in the spring issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review: All Entrepreneurship is Social. He writes:

One danger... is that the use of the modifier social will diminish the contributions of regular entrepreneurs—that is, people who create new companies and then grow them to scale. In the course of doing business as usual, these regular entrepreneurs create thousands of jobs, improve the quality of goods and services available to consumers, and ultimately raise standards of living. Indeed, the intertwined histories of business and health in the United States suggests that all entrepreneurship is social entrepreneurship.

Schramm goes on to elaborate how much social return plain, old-fashioned entrepreneurship has produced. RENEW seeks to capture that idea in our mission - "Serving Investors. Growing Businesses. Igniting Change."

As investors discover the potential of more and more African entrepreneurs, RENEW aims to continue to show the social impact of all kinds of entrepreneurship, done well.