Net Impact Europe Conference 2008: Sustainable Prosperity

Just on the train back to Jyväskylä after having spent the weekend in Geneva for the Net Impact conference – plenty of time to reflect.

First, to put this post into context – Net Impact is an organization that wants to change the world through business. It’s mostly MBA students from around the world that all have similar optimistic ideals about what business should be. Excellent place for myself indeedJ

Like any conference, some sessions were better than others, but all in all, it was a great conference with a slew of interesting people. It got some of the inspiration juices flowing – mostly just seeing successful people do their thing. That’s the crème.

One thing I most definitely didn’t like (to no fault of the conference, but the conference centre) – our coffee breaks were all disposable cups and utensils. At our “Sustainable Prosperity” conference, you can imagine that this peeved off a number of us. Geesh CICG.

Just to share a couple of my favourite parts:

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid (yes, I’ve blogged about it before)

  • Still nascent concept with lots of kinks to iron out and not necessarily as big as once thought when you take governance into account – at the end of the day, still hard to do business in politically instable areas
  • Need to focus on high growth entrepreneurship in these areas that will stimulate the local economy – making baskets is fine, but a company founded in Bangladesh that will employ hundreds is a lot more effective at bringing about economic development
  • Public and private institutions have failed. Let’s not forget about that when we debate these issues
  • Need new innovative business models to attack this issue

AccountAbility keynote speaker, Simon Zadek (extremely thought provoking)

  • There is no relationship to the world where we live now and the world that we will live in the future (different cultures, geo-political boundaries)
  • It won’t be the developed countries that will lead the way
  • Look for the change-makers, the emerging markets, the emerging powers
    • Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, Middle East etc.
    • Companies – look for ones that are at a turning point
  • Collaborative Governance in the 21st Century
  • Every sector governed by some multilateral agreement etc. Who owns those?
  • This generation is inheriting a complex and dynamic system of international players that we will have to reform again

Our greatest enemy is cynicism and this is furthered by the media, political leaders and others. We should be breeding anger. Anger is at least healthy as it affects change. Cynicism is born out of foolish optimism.

To fight cynicism, one has to ask the difficult questions.

To start, where will you be in all of this?

Good way to end, but there’s one last reflection…

At the after party I got a little over zealous in a discussion about the last 15 minutes of the conference. It was spent thanking the organizers and although I thought they deserved it and it should be done(it was well run – and they were MBA students), I thought that the conference wrap up should be about reminding us (in the audience) what our role can be in the future as business leaders of this movement. So, to anyone who reads this that was there, apologize if it came off the wrong way… it could also be the after party drinks;)

All in all though, a wonderful weekend in Geneva.


2 thoughts on “Net Impact Europe Conference 2008: Sustainable Prosperity

  1. Ritva says:

    Bike path it is! The “traffic” around the lake moves pretty fast sometimes 🙂

    The comment on cynicism is excellent- maybe because I like those difficult questions….


  2. […] keeping with this “crunch/zadek” talk…I’ve said it before on this blog and I’ll say it […]

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