If you speak to successful business leaders, change agents or sports people, it is hard to overlook the role of personal and professional champions who have inspired and encouraged them in their early days. Forming Circles is no exception. A company ahead of the curve with a mission to invest in youth and socially founded businesses, the ‘architects’ of the future.
Earlier this year I was asked to apply to represent Australia at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit in Moscow, Russia. This was an amazing opportunity both personally and professionally to mix with some of the world’s best entrepreneurial talent and to formulate global policy for entrepreneurship and innovation. As a young entrepreneur, I was in the midst of working with my business partner to scale Impact Leaders, a boutique consulting firm assisting organisations to leverage their core strengths to generate new sources of revenue through socially founded initiatives. In short, harnessing the knowledge and resources of businesses to solve or manage increasing social problems. At the time, Impact Leaders was relatively new and not the ‘usual’ type of company, thus I was aware that financing the trip would be quite challenging. As luck would have it, my application was awarded ‘People’s Choice’ with return flights sponsored by none other than Forming Circles.
Without this achievement, it is likely it would have been hard to attend the Summit. This example showcases Renata Cooper, the CEO of Forming Circles’, clear understanding and passion for championing youth and innovation through financing and support. Currently, statistics highlight that Australians continue to underestimate the importance of funding young and innovative entrepreneurs. In a post Global Financial Crisis economy, perhaps this is in part attributed to the lack in coverage of home grown entrepreneurial success stories such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Apple’s Steve Jobs. New business models and young innovators in Australia are consistently perceived as too high-risk or complex. This trend overlooks the fact that small to medium businesses are actually the lifeblood of the Australian economy, accounting for almost half of employment in the private non-financial sector and over a third of production1.
Through Forming Circles‘ ethical and social ventures they are paving the way, providing flourishing examples of success in small businesses and positive social change. Investment such as this has the potential to revolutionise Australian business. Corporations and individuals need to actively connect with and fund youth and innovation. There’s no doubt we have the talent, however it’s finance that is the fuel to transforming innovation into a thriving Australian economy.
1. Small Business: An Economic Overview, ABS, May 2012.