23 years ago I bought a goat for my Dad for Christmas. It was the first year that TEAR released their Really Useful Gift Guide in an attempt to rebut the commercialisation of Christmas. My Dad was not impressed with simply getting a card, but the rest of the family thought it was a great idea.

At the time it was a strange concept, to step back from the pressure and greed of a western Christmas, and to focus on the poor. It seemed revolutionary simply to admit to ourselves that we have enough stuff.

This Christmas, my inbox has been overwhelmed by ethical and sustainable options:

– ‘Useful gifts’ from all the major charities, where my money pays for a poor person to receive something they need
– Ethical gifts, such as fair trade chocolate, and ethical fashion, for example, Thread Harvest
– Calendars, journals, books compiled to support the homeless or poor, for example, Humans of Homelessness, where homeless people were given cameras and the best 12 were selected for a calendar
– Creative opportunities to help others to discover a purpose aligned with God’s mission, for example gifting Seed’s Purpose Discovery Course

All this marks an increasing acceptance of the value of being more socially responsible, and the growing interest in social entrepreneurship.

In 2017 we have seen the following trends realised for social entrepreneurs:

– Millennials reshaping the economy through their social activism
– Growing interest in impact investment, releasing more funds for the higher risk and lower returns of social ventures
– Increasing resourcing being made available for social entrepreneurs as organisations such as Macquarie Bank, and of course Seed’s Entrepreneur Incubator
– Increasing networking among social entrepreneurs via a myriad of platforms enabling collaboration

Social entrepreneurship has entered the mainstream, and will be here to stay, and what is being achieved is truly incredible. The World Economic Forum just released its list of Social Entrepreneurs of the Year. Among the celebrated projects:

– Zipline: the first company to use drones — which they call “zips” — to deliver vaccines, medicine and blood transfusions for use in rural Rwanda.
– MTTS: producing medical devices for newborns that are as little as an eighth of the cost of western models, reaching 1.3 million babies in Asia and Africa last year.
– Fundación Capital: facilitating partnerships between governments and financial institutions to provide inclusive financial services and social programs. It reached over 5 million people last year.
– REFUNITE: which has built a platform accessible via any basic phone that is free of charge, allowing refugees to search for missing family members and has reconnected more than 38,000 family members to date.
– The Aman Foundation: providing ambulances, health centres and education to fill unmet needs in fast-growing Pakistani cities. Its ambulances attend 100,000 cases a year.

Imagine what could be achieved in 2018 with creativity and enthusiasm aligned with God’s purposes to bring release to a needy world. Seed is on the forefront of sparking innovation that shows the world what Jesus is like.