Net Impact Annual Conference – October 27-29, 2006

Chicago 2

Net Impact, a charitable nonprofit organization with a network of 10,000 members in 75 cities on 4 continents, held its 14th Annual Conference in Chicago last weekend.  The theme of the Conference, hosted this year by the Kellogg School of Management:  Navigating Global Change.  The principal keynote speaker was Maria Otero, President and CEO of ACCION International, a global microfinance organization.  Ms. Otero was identified by Newsweek in 2005 as one of the 20 most influential women in the United States and engages in the same type of activity that earned Muhammad Yunus this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Net Impact’s mission is to improve the world by growing and strengthening a network of new leaders who are using the power of business to make a positive net social, environmental and economic impact.  Net Impact’s network of mostly MBAs, graduate students and professionals includes leaders in corporate social responsibility (CSR), social entrepreneurs, and nonprofit managers and directors.  While the organization’s balance sheet is modest, its rich human capital possesses enormous potential to change business practices in very large companies for the better of the environment and for our broad society.

Liz Maw, Executive Director of Net Impact, opened the conference by identifying that we have reached an important “tipping point” for business and for society…

In the past five years, we have seen significant changes in business practices and business school curricula addressing CSR.  In 2006, for the first time, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a person for a business process that he developed (microcredit) that could help masses escape poverty and thereby promote peace.  We have reached a tipping point for focusing the power of business to make a positive net impact.

Read more about Net Impact here.  You’ll find that I have the great honor of serving on the Net Impact board with several accomplished and inspiring CSR, nonprofit and thought leaders.

Read more about ACCION here.  This is a truly amazing organization whose stated goal is to bring microfinance to tens of millions of people.  Because ACCION realizes this cannot be sustained through donations, it has created an anti-poverty business model that allows for access to international financial markets.