Can an individual have a social impact?

October 28, 2018 | Raghul Parthipan

Can an individual have a social impact? To explore this fascinating question, we organised a panel event for Cambridge University students on Saturday 6th October.

In a world of 7.6 billion people, it can be difficult to believe that we, as individuals, can make a difference. Our world is facing serious challenges. In the time you’ve read this, 11 parents have lost their child. This happens every minute. Do we have to just accept that? Is there anything we can do? Our three guest speakers; Alex Hamilton of Syncona, Sophie Mower of the Centre for Global Equality and Isabel Bruggeman, a PhD student at the Cambridge Judge Business School, helped us explore the impact of the individual. 

Each panellist brought their own unique perspective to the discussion. Sophie, Business and Operations Manager at the Centre for Global Equality, provided a viewpoint from the charity sector. Given her background in community engagement it was interesting to hear the various challenges she came across when trying to achieve social impact, and the ways she went about overcoming them. Alex, Partner at Syncona (a healthcare venture capital company), helped bring a corporate flavour to the discussion and shared how although career paths may be varied, it is possible and motivating to seek impact in whatever work we do. Isabel brought us a more academic perspective and this was brought to life with learnings from her current project exploring the state of the social enterprise sector in Egypt after the Arab Spring.  

During the discussion, many insights into the challenges and opportunities for individuals to make a difference were offered. We heard stories of the impact our panellists had made as well as that of the social entrepreneurs Bridges for Enterprise work with; and it was observed that whilst individuals can all achieve impact, it is in their hands to decide how to realise the impact they want to create, given their own unique circumstances. The panellists then shared with the audience a selection of action points for implementation moving forward. 

Following the Q&A period, many remained to ask further questions of both the panellists and the Bridges for Enterprise team. Raghul Parthipan, Co-President of BfE noted, “many of us have grappled with the challenges of making an impact, so it was really encouraging to explore this topic in-depth and I’m glad the audience engaged so well”. 

At Bridges for Enterprise, we believe that we can make a tangible difference in the world by empowering social entrepreneurs. We have already supported 51 social enterprises from 21 countries, helping design and scale their ventures. For more information on joining the team, please see the details on our website. 

Thanks once again to Alex, Sophie and Isabel for their time and insightful perspectives.