The Wharton Social Impact Club, one of several student-run organizations and events that is sponsored by the Mack Institute, hosted the Wharton Social Impact Conference at The Wharton School on November 15. In this guest blog post originally published in the Huffington Post, conference co-chair Shenin Singh shares how she became involved in the exploration of social impact innovation.
My social impact journey began long before I knew the term “social impact”: growing up in post-Apartheid South Africa, where economic inequality was prevalent, systematic and, quite literally, apparent on our doorstep in the from of street children begging for food and women toiling from door to door, selling vegetables that they carried in boxes on their heads.
I began to realize that a series of broken systems underpinned this cycle of poverty — from inadequate financial access to poor education systems, from the lack of physical infrastructure in which households and businesses could function to the lack of capital being invested in these areas.
As I began a career in management consulting, I began to see the revolution to fix these systems begin to accelerate — from corporations innovating the way they do business to profitably serve low income customers (a win-win, which allowed them to expand their markets and revenue streams), to technology disrupting industries and democratizing access to goods and services, to financial institutions reinventing the way capital is invested to promote positive social outcomes.
My business school journey at Wharton delved even deeper into for-profit solutions to social problems — from studying regions in which these models have evolved particularly well, like India; to having the opportunity to do field application projects on products geared to serve and empower the base of the pyramid.
The pinnacle of this journey was being presented with the opportunity to chair the student-run Wharton Social Impact Conference, which was held on November 15 at The Wharton School in Philadelphia. My vision for this conference was to explore the cutting edge innovations in each facet of social impact and create a holistic picture of how these interweave. I greatly appreciate hosting the most prominent, leading drivers of social change at this year’s conference. This will help people who want to change the world forge deeper connections, a multifaceted network, and spur the passion to drive social impact through whatever path one’s journey takes.