The Role of ICT in Scaling Up the Impact of Social Enterprises
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can help social enterprises and other organizations working on global sustainability issues and in the human development sector in general scale their social impact. The flexibility, dynamism, and ubiquity of ICTs make them powerful tools for improving relationships among organizations and their beneficiaries, multiplying the effects of action against many, if not all, aspects of global unsustainability, including poverty and exclusion. The scaling of social impact occurs in two different dimensions. On one hand, ICTs can increase the value proposition of a program or action (depth scaling) in different ways: providing accurate and fast needs recognition, adapting products and services, creating opportunities, building fairer markets, mobilizing actions on environmental and social issues, and creating social capital. On the other hand, ICTs can also increase the number of people reached by the organization (breadth scaling) by accessing new resources, creating synergies and networks, improving organizational efficiency, increasing its visibility, and designing new access channels to beneficiaries. This article analyzes the role of ICT in the depth and breadth scaling of social impact.