Welcome To The Solution Economy

3017461-inline-bookcoverjgpThe companies working to better society and the planet are creating their own economy, but it’s up to us–and our governments–whether or not they succeed.

Imagine the world if we were able to double, triple, or even quadruple the number of problem solvers, the diversity of solutions, and the scale of social impacts.

Imagine if every government emulated NASA and opened up its toughest challenges for the world to solve.

Imagine if thousands more investors built off a patient- capital approach, sharing early-stage funding risk to sow the seeds of dignity and wealth.

Imagine if tens of millions of citizens started building better city blocks and other supportive communities; if every multi-billion- dollar company became a double- or triple-bottom-line business and directed resources to solving society’s problems.

Imagine if the number of social enterprises tripled and thousands of them had the size and scale to spread their innovations across continents.

We’ve started down the road to such a world. The solution revolution is a reality–and it’s growing. This growth, however, is uneven. It’s flourishing in the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Australia, parts of Africa, and in pockets of Europe. In whole regions of the world, however, the developments described in this book are still quite immature.


The reason is simple: the solution economy grows to fill the space it’s given, and certain regions offer habitats more hospitable for a robust solution economy than others. Their governments provide room for creativity, their businesses embrace new measures of value, and their investors trust alternative currencies of return.

What accelerates the solution economy? What constrains it? Consider two European neighbors: France and the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom, both Conservative and Labor governments have actively nurtured the social sector for more than a decade. The result is a large and rapidly growing economy of problem solvers and a changing role for government. Instead of shouldering almost sole responsibility for delivery, government increasingly catalyzes solutions. The United Kingdom has fewer civil servants today than at any time in the past seventy years, despite a population increase of 300 percent over the same period. Moreover, the country has experienced a rapid growth in civil society–a 40 percent increase in new charities and a doubling of large charities between 1995 and 2005.

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