Business is Our Last Hope: ‘Misfit’

Andreas and the Misfit Twitter winners seek to look disruptive.

Business is Our Last Hope: ‘Misfit’

Andreas Souvaliotis envisions a world where business can only survive if it's doing good

Even with the trillions of dollars and billions of volunteer hours invested in charity over the last 30 years, it has not succeeded in adequately addressing the world's most pressing issues, says Andreas Souvaliotis. He's holding up business as the “only major lever we have left at our disposal” to generate truly effective change.

Andreas imagines a world where every corporation has become a “kind of social enterprise.” He even goes so far as to envision a shift in the global system such that “we’ve made it impossible to do business unless you’re doing good — but to be able to make (loads) of money if you are.”

 
  Author of the recently published book Misfit, Andreas Souvaliotis, (in the cap) and the four winners of a Twitter contest he held during this week's Social Enterprise World Forum.

Andreas is not just a talker.

Following a “jagged” career path that began with an MBA and included desperately seeking a “normal” occupation, a derailment in that career path opened a way for him to launch the world's first eco rewards program, a social enterprise that rewards people when they made responsible choices.

Experiencing tremendous success, the program, dubbed Green Rewards at the time, was eventually bought by Air Miles. Andreas joined the “giant, multi-million” company where he found himself yet again, as he always had, a “misfit,” always the disruptor seeking to trigger change.

In the course of that journey, he says, he came to the epiphany that being the misfit was in fact something to be embraced, celebrated and leveraged.

Andreas sold his portion of the Green Rewards program, now called Air Miles for Social Change, to Air Miles last year and is now dedicated to bringing his blended message of the power of “misfits” and business as the agent for tremendous global good around the world.

 
  Two winners of a Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) Twitter contest vie for the grand prize of a Kobo by playing rock/paper/scissors.

He notes a predominant focus of his message to business is that embedding a concern for social and environmental change is a matter of survival. “It's about being relevant to the future.”

On the misfit side, he wants young people in particular to realize “that when you are different you can actually do better; when you are different you can have more fun; enjoy your life more; you can inspire more; you can feel more free.

“I love change and I love being the trigger of change,” says Andreas, reflecting on what drives him.

Andreas shared his insights at the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) Oct. 2-4 where he also launched his book, Misfit: Changemaker with an Edge, on his journey to date.

Five winners of a Twitter contest also had a chance for an in-depth conversation on his life story and insights. The contest invited SEWF 2013 attendees to share a tweet about how being a misfit has empowered them to affect social change.

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Michelle Strutzenberger

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