Global Competition Aims to Identify, Support, and Build a Global Network of Social Intrapreneurs


The term “Social Intrapreneur” first gained attention with a research report  published in 2008. This “Field Guide” identified individuals that are inside business, developing scalable solutions to some of the world’s most intractable problems.Just like social entrepreneurs, social intrapreneurs are motivated to change the status quo. Looking over the horizon, they see opportunity in the face of great challenge. This tribe of pioneers is incubating social change from the inside out, delivering business solutions that directly impact social and environmental inequities.

“Social intrapreneurs are among the most important catalysts for improving the social and environmental impact of large organizations,” said Gib Bulloch, executive director of Accenture Development Partnerships. “Fifty-plus of the largest 100 economies in the world are businesses, and just one degree of change instigated from the bottom up by a social intrapreneur can make a huge difference to communities reached by those companies.”

But bringing social intrapreneurship from the fringes into the mainstream is not an easy task. This is why Ashoka, the world’s largest organization of social entrepreneurs, and Accenture, a global consulting company, have joined forces to launch The League of Intrapreneurs: Building Better Business from the Inside Out. It is a global competition that aims to identify, support, and build a global network of social intrapreneurs.

Competition participants can submit entries until January 15, 2012 at The best 15 entrants will form the inaugural class of the League of Intrapreneurs, becoming part of an elite global network.

An expert panel of judges will select three winning entries from the League, and the Changemakers online community will vote to determine one additional winning entry. These winners will receive pro-bono consulting support from Accenture, and an invitation to attend the Skoll World Forum, plus press coverage (if desired).

Examples of Social Intrapreneurs:

Sam McCracken is the GM of Nike’s Native American business. Sam – a member of the Sioux tribe – was working in the company’s warehouse when he realized he had the ability to solve a problem in his community: rising obesity and diabetes. Sam found a way to leverage Nike’s brand to drive athletic participation among Native American communities – first by providing access to discounted product and then by developing appropriate and affordable products.

Susie Lonie and Nick Hughes developed Vodafone’s M-Pesa initiative, a mobile payment offering targeting low-income customers in Kenya. In just five years, M-Pesa has reached 17 million subscribers. Nick and Susie not only pioneered a specific innovation, but also helped Vodafone reframe its role as a platform solution to broader societal issues such as access to finance and health care.


“How are we going to make a social impact, earn money, grow business, and still be here in 100 years? …Social intrapreneurs have by far the greatest chance to make a social impact at scale…”

Geoff McDonald, Global Vice President of human resources, Unilever

 “Corporate responsibility is largely about risk management, while social intrapreneurship is about risk taking.”

Gib Bulloch Founder Accenture Development Partnership

“Intrapreneurs and their wide ranging projects provide an important indication of how future business models and leadership styles are likely to evolve to meet the world’s sustainability challenges.”

John Elkington, Founder, SustainAbility and Volans

“Social intrapreneurs are a rare species…Yet, this is a species that must be patiently nurtured. The promise for society and opportunity for business make the task of identifying and supporting social intrapreneurs within large corporations a highly rewarding challenge.”

Paul Achleitner, Member of the Board of Management, Allianz



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