Possibly one of the biggest game-changers out there. We are currently discovering its power through our work with Trine- a Fintech startup whose vision is to eradicate energy poverty by financing solar energy projects in low- and middle- income countries. Incredible promise in delivering on the SDGs, engaging individual investors, and offering ROI in economic, environmental and social dimensions. We want to see what other sectors can benefit from this type and scale of investment- is solar the lowest-hanging fruit? Or can we extend similar approaches to education, water, health and insurance?
We were admitedly skeptics of the SDGs- too ambitious, too vague, too everything. It’s the corporate and financial worlds that have helped us see this for the game-changer it is: $90- 120 trillion in required investment by 2030. This could be an unprecedented opportunity to promote ‘business for good’- rather than ‘business as usual’. How to get the money to the start-ups, entrepreneurs and SMEs that will fuel the scale-up? How to convince shareholders and institutional investors that lower- and longer-term- returns are necessary to see this transformational agenda through to success?
This term has become pretty tired. It’s become mired in associated ideas such as ’generating shared value’ and ‘aligned objectives’. There is a further generation of partnerships, ones that we think will be defined by a full transition to service delivery: no more corporate-NGO alliance, but corporates recruiting a non-profit as their social impact provider and monitor. Is the Third Sector ready to become a commercial provider? Is the corporate world equipped to choose the right social change organisation?
Why the WolfGroup? We looked high and low for the right role model- a no-nonsense, straight-shooting problem-solver. Someone who arrives in the nick of time, assesses the situation, thinks fast, and comes up with a real-world, workable solution. The kind of character who would introduce themselves saying, ‘I solve problems’. Enter the character of Winston Wolf played by Harvey Keitel in the movie Pulp Fiction.
Back in 2006, we worked in what we knew: the wild world of humanitarian aid. Natural disasters? Been there. Armed conflicts? Done that. A funny thing happened along the way: we started to branch out. Suddenly we were working in development, advocacy, change management, human rights, capacity building… then it was the environment, entrepreneurship, climate change, public-private partnerships… 150 clients later, we realized we had depth AND breadth.
We are still on the same road- mostly. The journey of the WolfGroup to date has shown us that a lot of disparate sectors and actors are trying to address the same sustainable development problems, but they are unable to find a common language. The terms ‘Sustainability’ + ‘Impact’ alone are proving to be dividers rather than the rallying lingua franca we had hoped for. We have found a space where we can bridge, broker and translate between very different worlds, all interested in sustainability and the SDGs.