Impact before One is Rich and Famous?

I spent the summer in China working for a microfinance company and after a summer of doing impact analysis for them, I need to figure out how to continue having a high personal impact. It was great to watch our investors who have poured millions into have a positive impact on blue collar workers in China in an innovative and quite frankly, rather risky model that is the first of its kind in China. I got to watch the board influence the direction of the company, and watch as the executives continually returned to high social impact- specifically improving the lives of blue collar workers the center of the mission statement of the company. This was particularly interesting because it turns out that helping poor people in China isn’t the most lucrative business proposition, so these executives pulling the ship back into the upstream channel as a form of commitment to social innovation was both inspiring and thought-provoking.

Many of the board of directors were investing in the social impact scene after lucrative and successful jobs in corporate America. Is it possible to have the sway and impact that these men have without the years of corporate work? Is the best path to high social-impact through corporate american training? Is social impact something that needs to be deferred to when one is rich and powerful?

Can you get the training you need to really create successful businesses, products, and models that will fly without training from a profit driven institution? Are traditional social-impact methods (micro finance, etc) really the best way to help and empower people? Or does Apple do that better than anything else by simply brining jobs in the economy, and hence, if I want to make an impact, should shoot for creating a behemoth corporate company?

These are the questions that I’m trying to answer while taking this class.