I have come to believe that a for-profit business model approach can be very useful to help solving large-scale global problems by providing sustainable platforms on which to operate and address them.
The best way to create a sustainable enterprise in order to have a large scale impact on problems we face in the world is to make it self-sustaining. Monetizing your solution helps to perpetuate and grow its impact and also forces you to consider what is of true value in servicing the needs of your customers; the people you think are interested and need what you propose to offer.
This type of model can be more effective than trying to run on grants and donations. It also means you must focus and hone the value proposition so it is truly meaningful and useful and valuable to people; so necessary to them that they are willing to pay for it. This is not an easy proposition but it is certainly an effective one.
Raising donations may be a practical way to initiate a program, but ultimately it is challenging to sustain an operation through charity; and relying solely on donations limits growth. Another benefit is that a business model at its core insists on the discipline of tailoring offerings to meet real needs. Customer validation keeps one from addressing imagined needs however altruistic may be the intent.
This continuous feedback and refinement helps create better, more relevant products and services that meet user needs and help solve real, not perceived, problems.
A business model is a great way, perhaps the most effective way, to marshal resources and create world changing enterprises.
The ability to craft a vision, mission and strategy and marshal the necessary resources and create the proper mosaic of skills and disciplines to address a need and solve problems is to be an agent for real change. This is a very powerful agency that we can all develop and implement.
Check out this TED Talk by Michael Porter on the subject.
Here are some inexpensive and accessible resources for acquiring business skills from MBA ASAP.