Featuring Richard Branson on our cover has always been at the top of our wish list. This issue on social entrepreneurship turned out to be the perfect occasion.

Ever since the foundation of his first business in the sixties, Sir Richard has been a champion of companies that make a huge difference while making a significant profit. Over the years, his sense of urgency for evolving business as we know it only kept growing.

“The way we live—and the way we do business—is changing like never before,” Branson writes in the preface of Screw Business as Usual. “Our growing interconnectedness, in part fuelled by the growth of social media, is transforming the way the world works.”

In the old model, business or capitalism was for the most part a means of making money for the directors of a company and its shareholders, without regard for the damage this might inflict on humanity and nature. The means by which the money was made did not matter; only the end result did.

Today, we know that how we treat others and our environment is a reflection of who we are, defining our consciousness and intelligence, and ultimately, our very survival.

How do we transform business from the people-exploiting, planet-killing machine it often has been into a force for good?

Further in the same preface, Branson introduces the concept of Capitalism 24902, named after the number of miles that make up the circumference of the earth. He calls it “a vision and movement that entails a new level of responsibility to people and planet on the part of every one of us, as well as a commitment by business, government, and not-for-profit organizations to work together in order to develop solutions to our most pressing challenges.”

As the stories in this issue attest, network marketing is taking a lead role in this transformation of business. Rooted in the principle of paying it forward, the networking profession attracts people who want to find a better way; who realize that creating sustainable change implies making life better for themselves and others. Once they achieve some personal goals, they use this foundation to reach out beyond their own teams and companies to help society at large, be it through charitable giving, volunteering, mentoring, or raising awareness around social and environmental issues.

Network marketers are known for their philanthropic bent. While most companies run their own charity or are dedicated to a specific cause, some are taking it a step further and are successfully applying the network marketing model to provide long-term solutions to global problems.

“Conceived within a profit-driven framework, Capitalism 24902 re-envisions how we drive profit creation and share value,” says Branson. “The great news is that businesses all over the world are already starting to show that doing good is good for business.”

Read on to see how network marketers are part of this emerging movement.

DR. JOSEPHINE GROSS is cofounder and editor in chief of Networking Times.