Creating value and values – Supporting better business, ethics and profitability
Highlights from We in Social Tech panel discussion, with Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Anjali Ramachandran and Julian Blake.
Ghislaine Boddington chairs the We in Social Tech panel discussion with;
– Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE,CEO, co-founder and Head Stemette, Stemettes
– Julian Blake, former Director and Editor, DigitalAgenda
Value has seemingly become an economic interpretation but how do we integrate ethics into our businesses and redefine value without it simply meaning a financial return?
At the We in Social Tech launch event in November 2018, Ghislaine Boddington, Spokesperson for the Accelerator chaired a panel discussion with three leading figures in the social technology sector to discuss this very issue.
The panel offered some valuable thoughts, highlighted below, on the emergence and growth of this sector, on why it is so important and the correlation between value (monetary) and values (ethical, social and personal), the strengths and weaknesses, challenges, opportunities and how these may evolve or pivot in the future.
What will happen if we don’t take action now?
Ghislaine Boddington started the panel discussion by sharing the morning’s news. Since the 1970’s we have lost 60% of the world’s animals and we never imagined that we would be so destructive to our natural environment or that future generations might not be able to experience our beautiful planet in the same way we have.
The We in Social Tech Accelerator is designed to be supportive of businesses that move towards better business ethics as well as profitability and towards creating solutions. The programme aims to harness this dynamic, emergent energy, together with our partners and supporters, and looks forward through
technology to addressing some of society’s most pressing problems and needs. Deutsche Bank’s support of this accelerator proves that technology for social good is starting to find its rightful place.
A new generation emergence towards tech for good
“When you allow people to have the right kind of relationship with technology they will use it to solve problems and do good with it”
Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE started the Stemettes at the young age of 24, over 5 years ago. She shared her story, which started at Deutsche Bank as a young employee. Anne-Marie had always been interested in technology but was often the only black, technical woman at work meetings. When Anne-Marie spoke at a conference supported by Deutsche Bank in the United States for female technologists, she suddenly felt a huge sense of belonging with the volume of technical women at the conference. Stemettes was born out of that as an impetus and Anne-Marie began to work with girls and women up to the age of 21, to introduce them to STEM and to entrepreneurship at a very young age, to create the role models they need and to pair young women with mentors and sponsors.
Anne-Marie has noticed an emergence towards tech for good with the young entrepreneurs on her programme and often altruism is at the core of what they do;
“Young people in particular are seeing their own personal issues around cyber bullying, mental health and other themes coming up…when we introduce them to technology they are seeing that there are opportunities for them to solve these problems…it’s not tech for tech sake.”
Anjali Ramachandran enhanced our global perspective on the innovations happening in other countries.
“It’s easy to live in this bubble with the Googles and the Facebooks and the fact that there’s all this technology – not everybody has access to it.”
Anjali highlighted that in many places young people don’t have access to technical knowledge and technology can be basic. Programmes like Stemettes are inspiring entrepreneurship, passion and enthusiasm, and young people are seeing very different problems. Leapfrogging technology is now very common with people going straight into mobile phone use and that 2G is still mainly in use in some countries. People depend on it on to get messages across and these are the realities that we all have to face. She also highlighted that 95 to 96% of people with disabilities live in countries like India and Nigeria.
Anjali further emphasised the huge opportunities for business and from a social perspective, where the fastest growing markets are located in the global south.
The problems people are solving are interesting. Many are creating access to basic resources, such as using tech to find access to publicly supplied water.
The technology can save (mainly women) time and instead of standing at water pumps, they know in advance when it’s going to be available. These are the types of problems that we don’t have here and it is good to remember they still exist.
Anjali’s Ada’s List is largely UK based but it has a global community of women. Anjali is inspired to see the kinds of problems that women are tackling here in the UK, using technologies such as Blockchain, Edtech making education more accessible and relatable, and medical tech too.
“I’m glad this accelerator is called social tech as I have an issue with the phrase tech-for-good, because it implies that it’s OK for businesses to run amuck and not do good. I agree that the ultimate purpose of a business is to its shareholders but nowhere is it written that it’s OK to do bad. It’s interesting to see what good means in different parts of the world”.
Julian Blake of DigitalAgenda on growing opportunities
“The impact economy is growing and there’s a demand from consumers and younger people to buy stuff from organisations that have purpose.”
Julian Blake, then Director of DigitalAgenda, a We in Social Tech Partner, shared a number of useful facts and resources. Half of the winners in the recent DigitalAgenda Impact Awards, in its third year, were women founders.
The Edelman Trust Barometer recently showed that more and more people want to buy from organisations that have purpose built into their businesses. £87bn of assets under management are in purpose driven, impactful businesses in the UK and there is a 13% year on year growth in the amount of money that is going into impactful businesses worldwide.
This is being reflected in the UK as well. The ScaleUp Institute annual report informs us about scaling social businesses. Overall, women founders are leading 1,300 businesses that have £26bn in revenue. There is a growth of networks, such as the Tech For Good London Meetup group, with over 8,000 members and it’s growing fast.
“This is an extraordinary reflection of the growth of this community and it feels good.”
Katrina Larkin, Fora, finished the event highlighting the importance of togetherness
“The one word I keep hearing and I have written down from this morning is togetherness and togetherness has never been so key or relevant a word to give each other strength and to inspire each other.”
Katrina closed the event by sharing her own experiences in building her successful business Fora, and the challenges she faced as a woman, even after 30 years in business, often in a male cultured environment.
Watch the We in Social Tech showreel here on YouTube