Many of the social, environmental, and economic challenges we face today are downstream consequences of outmoded economic systems and organizational models whose roots date back to the industrial age. The scale, urgency, and complexity of these challenges demand a fundamental upgrade to business-as-usual.
The growing sector of for-benefit enterprises offers an opportunity to solve many of these challenges, while advancing inclusive and sustainable growth. Combining attributes of traditional for-profit businesses and NGOs, for-benefit enterprises are hybrid business structures whose primary purpose is delivering social and environmental benefit. They constitute a fourth sector of the economy which has been growing at the intersection of the traditional private, public, and nonprofit sectors for decades.
For-benefit enterprises currently lack their own supportive ecosystem, making it difficult to survive and deliver on their highest potential. Consequently, for-benefit organizations are forced to operate at a disadvantage relative to traditional for-profits and nonprofits unless they make compromises that dilute their mission or impede their ability to scale.
To succeed at delivering on both their commercial and impact objectives, for-benefits need strong support systems just like the other sectors, but tailored to their unique requirements. They need access to financial markets that seek positive social and environmental impacts, enabling policy and regulatory environments, integrated assessment and reporting standards and tools, specialized technical and legal assistance and training offerings, and more. In short, the mechanisms that make a market function.
The Fourth Sector Group (4SG) is a global multi-stakeholder platform for collective leadership and action aimed at accelerating the development of a supportive ecosystem for the fourth sector. Through a variety of collaborative initiatives, 4SG brings together businesses, civil society, governments, multilaterals, philanthropists, academia, ecosystem builders, and industry and sector leaders to create a conducive environment for for-benefit organizations to thrive. LEARN MORE
Some current initiatives that are on the 4SG platform include:
A pooled grant and public investment fund to fuel the development of supportive ecosystems for for-benefit organizations globally. The Fund is being designed in collaboration with the Stanford Global Projects Center...
Being developed in collaboration with the Global Projects Center at Stanford University, this initiative facilitates long-term investor capital into debt and equity investments in for-benefit entities...
We need leadership across multiple disciplines to develop new structures that support for-benefit entrepreneurs and investors who are leveraging business to tackle social and environmental problems.”
- Sir Richard Branson,
Founder, Virgin Group