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A Call to Magis

Monday, Jun. 16, 2014

On May 18, Santa Clara University hosted our inaugural Magis event, celebrating the social entrepreneurship movement and its leaders. It was a warm Sunday evening that brought more than 300 special guests to campus, uniting modern Silicon Valley entrepreneurship and the centuries-old Jesuit drive to serve humanity.

St. Ignatius of Loyola used the Latin word magis to encourage us to live and give more generously, asking the question, What more can I do for others? At the Center for Science, Technology, and Society, our goal is to help social entrepreneurs provide essential goods and services to more people living in poverty around the planet. At Magis, we asked the broader Santa Clara University community, What more can we do? What more can Santa Clara do to eradicate poverty?

According to the World Bank, 4 billion people live in poverty, including more than 46 million here in the U.S. The UN projects the global population will grow to 10 billion by 2050. It appears unlikely that planet Earth can sustain further population growth and the consequent environmental pressures that fuel climate change. The convergence of population growth and global warming make the poor even more vulnerable. We are at an inflection point. More clearly needs to be done for others – and for the planet.

Charity is not enough. While essential following natural or human-made disasters, charity doesn’t stimulate economic growth, empower local communities, create lasting change, or scale. In fact, meaningful scale has eluded most poverty alleviation efforts. Development paradigms applied to reconstruct Europe after WWII have proven largely unsuccessful in Africa, India, and Asia where most of the global poor reside. The “fortune at the bottom of the pyramid” philosophy has yielded few sustainable solutions to the most pressing problems of poverty.

A social entrepreneur is a pioneer of innovation, someone who recognizes a problem and uses business principles to create and run a venture to yield positive social change. Social entrepreneurship has emerged as a scalable alternative with greater potential to effect sustainable change in poor communities while preserving the environment.

One of the sector pioneers along with Skoll Foundation and Acumen Fund, the Center now serves as an open-source learning laboratory for scaling social impact.

Our leadership team, Advisory Board, and GSBI Mentor corps include many start-up executives and venture capitalists: the DNA of Silicon Valley. What unites us is the Center’s mission: to accelerate global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. The convergence of Silicon Valley entrepreneurial acumen and Jesuit tradition both distinguishes Santa Clara and offers us a unique opportunity to do more to eradicate poverty and slow global warming.

Three pillars form the Center’s integrated social justice platform. Our GSBI® (Global Social Benefit Institute) programs help social entrepreneurs apply Silicon Valley entrepreneurial thinking to their ventures that serve the poor. In the first 12 years of GSBI, we’ve worked intensively with more than 200 social enterprises, which have collectively impacted the lives of nearly 100 million people in 55 countries around the planet. Second, our Impact Capital program facilitates financial investments to help social enterprises scale. Third, our Education and Action Research program educates future leaders who can apply the principles of social entrepreneurship in whatever vocations they pursue.

In the spirit of this unique convergence, Magis honored social entrepreneur and impact investor Graham Macmillan and renown leader of the social entrepreneurship movement, Skoll Foundation President & CEO Sally Osberg. Both remarked that the values of Santa Clara University infused Magis; indeed, the Secretary of Higher Education for the Society of Jesus, Fr. Michael Garanzini, welcomed guests that evening.

Leaders from social enterprise incubators and accelerators at Jesuit universities and other mission-aligned organizations around the world joined Fr. Garanzini at Magis as we convened the fifth GSBI Network meeting. The GSBI Network can multiply Santa Clara’s marriage of Silicon Valley DNA with Jesuit ethics in several ways. First, GSBI Network partners share best practices in social enterprise incubation and acceleration, making real our vision to help more social entrepreneurs. Second, by engaging students and faculty in practical action research with social enterprises, we can collectively help those ventures scale to serve more of the global poor. Third, these experiential learning opportunities help our students become future leaders who can create a more just, humane, and sustainable world.   

We are at an inflection point. The convergence of population growth and global warming make the poor more vulnerable. At the same time, young people around the world are demanding career options that offer more than money: they want a better world. Santa Clara is humbly at the heart of this transformative time. We are striving to do more, and we invite you to join us.

Tags: MAGIS, Sally Osberg, Skoll Foundation


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