Whereas a last article I published as an introductory draft discussion paper in October 2009 argued the currently new emerging notions on Social Entrepreneurship will lead to a critical re-direction of the understanding and the application of Social Justice promoting policy, this follow-up piece of writing aims to draw the attention to more ‘how-to-bring-together-the-promotion-of-Social-Entrepreneurship-with-International-Development-policy’matters, in order to achieve positive multiplier effects in the global fight against poverty.
In this paper ‘Do you believe in Social Justice or in the Social Entrepreneur, Part II’ (March 2010), I reflect on the new relevance of the Social Entrepreneur in times of fundamental socio-economic change. I wish to thank my good friend Noeline Clayfield for her great help!
David Bornstein illustrated in a recent book on Social Entrepreneurs, by which one I was quite impressed, ‘his’ 2 sides of the same coin: On the one side you have health issues and social problems, which reflect the ‘sanity’ of a society or community, and on the other side you have matters of economic development and environmental protection. Both sides reflect the mutual and undisputable inter-dependence of a healthy, sustainable environment in all aspects of development. Or the very recent Social Venture idea promoted by Chris Hughes (co-founder of Facebook) to build up a platform called Jumo that will connect people and organizations around the world under the ‘umbrella’ of Global Development, more precisely health care, agriculture and education.
While international policy agreements usually address just the above mentioned aspects of Development issues in order to achieve global goals such as the UN established Global Development Goals (MDGs), they reflect on the other side certain inflexibility and rigidity. Private approaches aiming to promote Social Entrepreneurship - although they might be distorted at times - are plenty and contribute often to the achievement of the MDGs without being explicitly ‘planned’ or considered as such ones.
However, the interesting point is here to learn:
(a) What kind of ventures do already exist between official development policy and private investors in order to promote Social Entrepreneurship,
(b) What are the lessons of these ventures, and
(c) How can these ventures be stimulated to produce more positive multiplier effects in order to contribute to a better, more congruent achievement of the MDGs?
And, is this kind of venture a tool for actively promoting Social Justice?
Before sketching out what we already know (state-of-the-art), lets go just one step back and make sure everybody is clear what Social Entrepreneurship on the one hand and Global Development Policy on the other means. The Social Entrepreneur is usually somebody who applies business methods not for (pure) wealth accumulation but for solving (or addressing) societal problems. Global (International) Development Policy is obviously a little bit more difficult to define in brief due to different (and sometimes even opposing) conceptualizations and trends in the well known International Organizations of global importance. So let’s try a simple one like ‘the sum of transparently agreed and globally recognized objectives which promote Development (equivalent or not to Social Justice).
Just a few observations for now:
Analysing texts and speeches in both metiers, Private Sector initiatives and official Development Cooperation, we find repeatedly the same idiom: Social Impact (of the idea) and Ethical Fibre (of the social entrepreneur). Then come the sanity of society (community) in interdependence with sustainable Development (economic vs. or along with environmental).
At the same time the world is approaching new for-profit-economic-models with social-communal bases (e.g. Brazil). Something new is emerging in the so called countries of transition. Besides it does not happen accidentally that at the current time most millionaires have started to create social investment funds or initiatives, opposing the image of the wealth accumulating profit maker per se. To contribute to societal goals becomes not just a fashion in Hollywood’s elite. Even the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon seeks alliances with Hollywood prominence and the world’s best know millionaires as the global press recently showed.
What is here about the potential for generating lots of new social entrepreneurs? If the very few experiences so far are so relevant for Development, why not formulating (or agreeing) an official new Global Policy Goal that not just uses the Social Entrepreneur for getting closer … but to generate a whole new generation of Social Entrepreneurs? The world community has learned that the stage where just to claim Social Justice has gone and been replaced step by step by different 21st century + style approaches on how to achieve a balanced but nevertheless future oriented Development ( new stage) …
There are plenty of initiatives at the international level encouraged by private investors. Next to the in the beginning mentioned initiatives promoted by Bornstein and Hughes there are few quite interesting sources with illustrative examples on how this works within the ‘Development’ context:
Social entrepreneurship and micro venture capital
Microfinance has been the rage in international development for awhile now. I would say it peaked when Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
The rage today in international development is social entrepreneurship and venture capital investing in small and medium entreprises (SMEs). Social entrepreneurship targets the base of pyramid development but a step above microfinance. Where as microfinance typically invests in small individual loans, social entrepreneurs invest debt or equity as business partners.
I am not going to type much on this. I am trying to improve the quality/quantity ratio of my posts so I'm adding links below for more info.
The places to start seeking information:
Social entrepreneurship funds:
Agora Partnerships (I currently intern there)
Blogs on social entrepreneurship:
The Green Skeptic
Where you can do it online:
Finally, coming back to the in the beginning stated 3 questions of interest -What is the state-of-the-art? (Leaving apart the interrelation with Social-Justice-promotion for now)
Real ventures between internationally operating official Development Agencies and Social Entrepreneurship promoting private initiatives are still relatively rare so far. There is a lot of potential assumed to be worthy to be explored in more detail. In order to achieve this:
Who has interesting knowledge and experience in this field and wants to share?