2020 was a year unlike any other and a key takeaway for most of us was that we should Never Give Up. 2020 has been historic in many ways and not all of them good. From the economic effects and catastrophic loss of life brought on by the COVID‑19 pandemic, to new effects from climate change, the transformative moments in the Black Lives Matter movement, and a highly contentious US election, 2020 was as sobering as it was defining.And yet, we are still moving forward, more determined than ever to keep our economy going while supporting our local communities.I have been so impressed with the tenacity of our small businesses to fight and innovate their way through the pandemic. In 2020, we saw that small businesses are resilient, innovative, and persistent about keeping the economy moving forward and that they will never give up. But we still have a lot of work to do. 2021 will look much different from 2020. We will continue to be in the grip of a global pandemic, but we are armed with much more knowledge and hope is spreading as more people receive vaccinations.As we rebuild our communities and local economies, I am encouraged that more and more businesses are incorporating Social Impact into their business thinking to help them connect with their employees, rebuild their communities, and have a north star that is purpose-driven, to lead them out of the pandemic. Combining attributes of traditional for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations, Social Impact Businesses are hybrid business structures whose higher purpose is delivering social and environmental benefit while making a profit. This Purpose and Profit minded business constitute an emerging 4th sector of the economy which has been growing at the intersection of the traditional private, public, and nonprofit sectors for decades.This innovation is evolving capitalism and traditional business models alike, all while broadening the current business definition of success.
The pandemic is set to usher in a new economic age and we need to be prepared to grab ahold of the opportunity to update the underlying architecture of our aging economic system.We need to unleash the power of purpose-driven organizations to build a better economy and use business to help reinvigorate our communities. Each of us as individuals, leaders, community members or as a family were tested this past year.Many of us found out what we are made of and witnessed friends and colleagues crack under the pressure or rise to occasion. Many of us had to dig deep and keep pushing, adapting, and innovating until we found something that worked for our businesses or even in our personal lives.This was the year that careers were made or broken.Where individuals gave in to anger or desperation and focused on blaming others for the things that were going wrong in the world, or they used this as an opportunity to be creative and entrepreneurial and discover new ways to be successful or simply to survive. Here’s to our small businesses, our entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs and the small businesses community. Thank you for pushing through, being innovative, creative, and adapting to change in the face of incredible odds. Thank you for NEVER GIVING UP.
Jonathan A. Liebert CEO and Cofounder, National Institute for Social impact 2.23.2021