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Social and economic recovery through fourth sector development

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Highlighted Effort:


The Building a Better Economy Challenge is bringing together innovators, experts and organisations from around the world – drawn from policy, business, finance, law, economics, philanthropy, academia, civil society, development, technology, design and other fields – to connect and collaborate.


Some participants will pose critical challenges to be solved. Others will work in teams or individually to develop actionable solutions in response to these challenges.


Solutions will be presented to governments, showcased alongside the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly and introduced at the G20. Contributors may have opportunities to participate in future implementation of solutions.

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Highlighted Effort:

CEOs urge businesses and governments to join them in accelerating the transition towards an inclusive, resilient, sustainable economy by recognizing and supporting purpose-first business as an emerging fourth sector of the economy.


Rather than trying to rebuild an outdated system, we must build a better one by addressing the underlying structural flaws that have been exposed and exacerbated by COVID-19.

This effort is driven by a diverse group of partners and allies, with a shared conviction that going back to business-as-usual after the pandemic is not an option.  

Decades of innovation have given rise to a fourth sector of the economy, emerging at the intersection of the three traditional sectors (public, private, and non-profit), and comprised of 'for-benefit' or 'purpose-driven' enterprises. These innovations offer a compelling pathway to update the underlying architecture of our economic system to address its flaws. 


We want to unleash the power of purpose-driven organizations to build a better economy. By strengthening the supportive ecosystem for the fourth sector, we can rise to the challenge of the COVID-19 crisis to build a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable world.


This is a transformation journey, transitioning from what has been an organic, emergent process to one that is intentional and  strategic. 


This journey requires new ideas, new voices,  and massive collaboration at every scale. 

We hope you will join us!




Growing the fourth sector to create more equitable and resilient economies.

The efforts and innovations of millions of individuals and organizations has given rise to a fourth sector of the economy. Now it's time for massive collaboration, to overcome fragmentation and transition from what has been an organic emergence to an intentional one — and it will take all of us.

Demand. Innovation. Hope. 

The fourth sector is fueled by rising demand and innovation — decades in the making.


To scale the fourth sector globally and unleash the potential of for-benefit organizations to generate social, economic and environmental benefits, key strategic interventions from policymakers, business leaders, investors, academia, social innovators, and civil society are needed. 

Resource Library

We invite you to utilize and contribute to a living library of  tools, resources, and more.

How for-benefits are responding

Inspiring stories of for-benefits responding to the COVID-19 crisis.



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The Fourth Sector Group, 2020

Here you will find short case studies of for-benefit enterprises that will help you have a better understanding of what a for-benefit model looks like, and the potential impact it can have. 


Business with Purpose and the rise of the fourth sector in Ibero-America

SEGIB, IE Business School, 2019


The world will fail to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals — here’s how purpose-driven companies can fix that...

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The For-Benefit Entreprise

Heerad Sabeti, 2011

We are in a new era. For-profit businesses are tackling social and environmental issues, nonprofits are developing sustainable business models, and governments are forging market-based approaches to service delivery. Out of this blurring of traditional boundaries, a different model of enterprise is emerging, driven by entrepreneurs who are motivated by social aims...


Social good creates economic boost

Professor Martin Obschonka

15 May 2020

As unemployment rates skyrocket around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a world-first study has found social venture start-ups not only alleviate social problems but also are much more important for job creation than previously thought.

Lessons from Nature for the 50th Earth Day

Kim Polman

April 22, 2020

On the 50th anniversary of #EarthDay, what better guidance can we take than from Nature’s example? Read about the empowering metaphor of the Imaginal Cell's, and how to join
@futurereboot's Imaginal network, in Kim Polman's Earth Day article.

COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs

Schwab Foundation

4 May 2020

The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs brings together over 40 leading global organizations to coordinate response for social entrepreneurs as they overcome the significant impacts of COVID-19.

For Benefit to All

Dr. Lindsay Portnoy

June 18, 2020

As society waits impatiently for new signs of life, there is a growing divide between those who aim to restore the comfortable rhythm of status quo and others still who seek a new cadence. A stark divide between the dire circumstances we face as a society where one in four is unemployed and an opportunity to redefine our economy and our entire existence.

"For-benefits": A new economic order for the post-COVID era

Dr. R Balasubramaniam

6 May 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic is threatening not only healthcare systems, but also the livelihoods of citizens and the stability of economies. With talk of stimulus and financial packages doing the rounds, this may be the right time to ask the question, is it sensible to go down the beaten path without exploring viable alternatives?

Moving Beyond CSR: The Rise of the Fourth Sector in Business

Raj Kumar

June 19, 2019

A cloudy sky is reflected in the mirrors of an office building in Pfaeffikon, Switzerland. The concept of shared value can define the future of capitalism if consumers, employees and voters make it so.


The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the flaws or our economic system. These flaws were not unknown.  Calls for change were being heard from every corner before the pandemic.  Last summer, 183 CEOs of the Business Roundtable issued a statement calling for firms to abandon the supremacy of shareholder value and act for the benefit of all stakeholders. We have heard from voices as diverse as Greta Thunberg and the global pro-environment youth movement, Leaders on Purpose CEOs, and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who last year warned that the relentless pursuit of shareholder value turned workers into line items on a ledger. In January, the World Economic Forum’s Davos 2020 Manifesto argued that the purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders including employees, customers, suppliers, local communities, and society at large in shared and sustained value creation.

Calls for change

Take Action:

Governments have a huge role to play in scaling the fourth sector. However, to succeed, it will take all of us! 






International Organizations


Nonprofits & Civil Society



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