A new take on: purpose

A purpose beyond profit is something impact ventures take for granted. But while the corporate world names ‘purpose’ an increasing value in their mission statements, there is still a huge gap between those who want to make the world a better place and those who continue with business as usual.

Austrian Start-Ups together with RespAct have launched a new program called Circle17, that aims „to mobilize a local movement of young leaders in sustainable transformation, to turn the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into Austrian’s business priorities, leading change on all aspects of corporate- and societal sustainability“.

It’s time and necessary that a sustainable transformation reaches the business and therefore also the start-up world. At the same time it’s very important to reduce the gap between impact ventures and profit-driven ventures. The so called „impact scene“ has gained a lot of attention in the last few years and broadened to a network of change-making individuals, impact investors and own events like the „impact days“. However even a profit-driven venture should serve a purpose.

Purpose can mean a lot of different things: it could contain new forms of employee satisfaction or new forms of leadership. It could mean giving something back to society, engaging in zero carbon emission programs or introducing new ethical standards and much more.

It shouldn’t be an either or situation, where either you engage in an impact venture that thrives to make a difference in social or sustainablility matters, or a profit-driven company that is ready to sacrifice all it’s other potentials for the sake of making a lot of money.

„The market sets the rules“ is usually not more than a cheap excuse, but it’s the founders’ responsibility and the goals they have set for their business. The goals might change on the way but it’s important to set them right from the start. However it will need more ambitious ones than Google’s famous (corporate philosophy) ‚don’t be evil’.

Recently top CEOs in the USA (Business Round table), for the first time since 1970 have put together a mission statement that emphasized further goals like sustainability and supporting communities they work for besides profit-making.  Fortune magazine even launched a survey under the name „purpose on a tipping point“: stating that 64% of Americans say a company’s „primary purpose“ should be „making the world better.“ However even if critics remain skeptical if this will bring change on a large scale in the corporate world, it’s even more the time for SMEs and Start-ups to set the right course and make it better.

The Circle17 Impacthon featured 15 teams engaging in sustainable agriculture, connecting sustainable mobility or transforming urban infrastructure and testing their ideas in a design-thinking challenge. The Kick-Off event hosted inspiring guests like Harald Friedl, CEO of the Circle Economy and Karin Huber-Heim, founder of FuturAbility. The program will continue to evolve over the next few months and will hopefully generate inspiring initiatives and impact businesses to work further on the 17 sustainable development goals.

IMAGINIS will be supporting the initiative and the teams on different occasions.