Business and social change – how can they fit together?

As a recent college graduate, my career path veers from the common track. Later this month, I will leave the comfort of life in Northern Virginia and move to Rwanda for two months. Why you’re asking? For a once in a lifetime chance to become a social entrepreneur.

Upon arrival I will be charged with coordinating and executing new and existing social change projects in Nyamyumba and Huye, Rwanda. In Huye, I will work with OPDE, an organization that works to protect children in vulnerable situations and provides temporary shelter for children living on the streets. I’ll also work with another recent graduate to identify small business opportunities to support family reunification for children living in the shelter, because many times these children have been turned out from their homes due to the inability of their family to financially support them. This is just one example of the types of projects I will be working on in my two months in Rwanda. While these roles are brand new to me, with positivity, innovation and flexibility in mind I believe I can not only fill them but excel in them to make impactful change.

This is my second year working at DXC Technology as a marketing intern in the Content Hub. Each year I have had the opportunity to work on a range of projects, spanning across many of the different services we offer and industries we work in. Through my own work, through the work of my co-workers and through the work of other companies in our industry, I have seen the magnitude of which technology has evolved. Entrepreneurs are often defined as risk takers and innovators in their field, and while working at DXC, a company that focuses on being innovative and disruptive in the field of technology, I often ask myself how could this technology be used to positively affect the lives of others?

Technology has long been leveraged to make social change, but at a small magnitude. One year ago, as a student in the program I will now help run and organize, we leveraged tablets and other portable technologies to aide our ESL lessons and teaching efforts in Adigrat, Ethiopia. Lack of resources and language barriers are two of the hardest obstacles we had to overcome while teaching ESL, but having teaching applications we could leverage was one way we helped overcome these obstacles.

While this technology can help make a difference, imagine if we could leverage business solutions on a grand scale to help promote social change. That kind of meaningful involvement from big business could be a key to creating sustainable social change. It would mean going above and beyond a simple CSR strategy to leverage your company’s assets to promote a meaningful change in the world.

Impact Investing

There is no perfect solution to solving the world’s most dire problems; but in turn that means there are a wealth of ideas and tactics we can try, in order to make a difference. While companies have developed different solutions, one thing many have in common is a focus on impact investing.  Impact investing, according to the Global Impact Investing Network, focuses on making “investments into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.”

Further than just impact investing, some companies who are making a big difference are also leveraging their company’s strengths to enact social change. By coupling a company’s core competencies with the power of impact investing, big businesses have the potential to make a large-scale difference that can benefit both them and society.

What comes next?

As I wrap up my time at DXC this summer, I will take a wealth of experiences with me as I embark on my next adventure in Rwanda. But the one lesson I will continually remember is the importance in asking questions and challenging the status quo. When we decide to stop accepting things exactly as they are, and challenge ourselves to be better, it can be a step towards making a positive change both inside and outside the office.

Karen-Furr-headshotKaren Furr is a marketing intern working in the Content Hub at DXC Technology headquarters in Tysons, Va. Karen is a recent graduate from Virginia Tech’s Pamplin School of Business with a BS in marketing management.

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