Getting the Fourth Sector formerly and properly stablished would be a long-term, global endeavour comprising a number of things: enabling new policy and regulatory frameworks, promoting new investment mechanisms that focus on social impact, designing assessment and reporting standards, and raising awareness among the key stakeholders of society –from legislators to investors and business leaders. During its first year (2018), our project will support this process by working in five specific fronts:
- Developing Knowledge on the Fourth Sector and the SDGs. We will fund and produce a number of case studies, academic papers, surveys and articles that will analyze the current size of the Fourth Sector for the region and its potential contributions to the 2030 Agenda, as well as exploring ways to overcome the main regulatory, financial and cultural barriers that currently constrain its growth.
- Raising awareness and building community among Ibero-American entrepreneurs and business people, consumers/citizens and policy-makers through a series of articles, videos, conferences, workshops, and events.
- Advising Policy and Providing Training. We will produce a set of white papers and policy briefings for the 22 Ibero-American governments, aimed at underlining the strategic importance of the Fourth Sector for the region and recommending some actions that could be taken. Moreover, we will also run a series of training programs for government officials, so they can acquire a compressive understanding of the Fourth Sector and the best ways to accelerate it.
- Supporting the creation of the theoretical framework. Our team of experts will support the Fourth Sector Group’s current efforts to develop a taxonomy, census, and policy framework for the Fourth Sector globally.
- Becoming an international and multi-stakeholder platform that identifies, brings together, coordinates and supports the on-going initiatives and entities working for the Fourth Sector in the region. This includes local and national governments, companies, incubators, social enterprises, hubs of entrepreneurship, universities, foundations and civic associations.
These things can only be achieved through a collective effort that brings together all the key actors of the region. With this in mind, we have set a multi-stakeholder initiative led by the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB), the United Nations Development Program for Latin America (UNDP) and the World Economic Forum’s Fourth Sector Development Initiative (FSDI). We work in close collaboration with the 22 governments of Latin-America and the Iberia-Peninsula and hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, academics, leaders of the civic society and philanthropic institutions. We also coordinate our efforts with the Fourth Sector Group, a global platform that brings together institutions committed to this goal.
Benefits for All
We want to accelerate the Fourth Sector development because we are certain that this will bring significant opportunities and benefits for everyone:
- Governments will find in Fourth Sector entities new and powerful allies to better fulfil their duties at a time of public resource scarcity and rising demand for social services. For-benefits will help in developing the economy, creating jobs (they are estimated to be creating jobs almost twice as fast in the U.S. and Europe as traditional for-profit companies), and tackling the main social and environmental challenges by dealing with them at the root level. Moreover, since they are mission aligned, Fourth Sector entities will also help governments to innovate and find new methods for providing public benefit.
- NGOs. Non-profits and Fourth Sector entities share the common good as their raison d’être, making them natural allies and partners. The Fourth Sector’s ecosystem will help non-profits to overcome the problem of long-term financial sustainability, allowing them to achieve successful revenue generation through commercial activities without compromising the integrity of their mission.
- Social Enterprises, B-Corps, Cooperatives, and other socially and environmentally responsible forms of business will benefit dramatically from the establishment of the Fourth Sector, since they will finally have the supportive ecosystemthat meet their legal, financial and technical needs and allows them to thrive, escalate and succeed in the markets.
- Most for-profit companies are already transforming their business models in order to meet the changing demands of their consumers and shareholders, and make them more adaptive and competitive in the new paradigm of sustainable growth. Fourth Sector entities can provide these traditional companies invaluable lessons and examples of successes and failure to guide their journey in generating revenue while reducing harm and creating societal benefit.
- Entrepreneurs. Given its breadth and rapid growth potential, the Fourth Sector will become a powerful catalyst for new entrepreneurship and innovation in the region, especially for younger people. Data shows that there are tens of millions of social-purpose enterprises around the world each year. If the right ecosystem is set in place, this rate could increase at a massive scale. This means more opportunities for entrepreneurs, more jobs and more prosperity for Ibero-America.
- Society. The Fourth Sector is one of the most promising ways that today’s society has to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. For benefit enterprises will advance scalable, market-based solutions that address the root causes underlying each of the SDGs, and deliver the strong positive social and environmental impacts that our world needs.