Sharing Expertise for Growth

Languages

Blog

Submitted by Natalia on 22.03.2010

‘Do you believe in Social Justice or in the Social Entrepreneur, Part II’

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:

http://20sinvestor.blogspot.com/2008/04/social-entrepreneurship-and-micro.html

 

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:

Ashoka.org
Technoserve

Social entrepreneurship funds:
Acumen Funds
Agora Partnerships (I currently intern there)
Endeavor

Blogs on social entrepreneurship:
The Green Skeptic
NextBillion.net

Where you can do it online:
MicroPlace
Betterplace

http://sic.conversationsnetwork.org/series/internationalDevelopment.html

http://www.schwabfound.org/sf/AboutUs/Team/index.htm

http://beyondprofitmag.com/

http://womenentrepreneursgrowglobal.org/category/social-entrepreneurship/page/2/

 

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?

0
Your rating: None
3

entrepreneurs are really just opportunists

Interesting article, I think when it comes down to it entrepreneurs are really just opportunists. There is a growing trend toward social responsibility and entrepreneurs are there to exploit opportunities for profits.I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, I have no problem with Jumo being a profitable site because I know how much it will benefit other organizations and communities. There are similar sites out there already such as Change.org, Ammado.com, and Care2.com, but they will most likely fail to compete with a celebrity backed platform like Jumo.Anyhow thanks for the article, very interesting topic right now.Brianhttp://www.ForgottenVoices.org

Social Entrepreneurship

Hi Natalia
Firstly, I think Brian, who commented above, has probably misunderstood the meaning of the term 'social entrepreneur' and assumed that you are just talking about entrepreneurs.

Someone like Bill Gates, who some may consider to be a social entrepreneur, is really just an entrepreneur. His attempts to 'solve' problems in developing countries using expensive technical fixes is not social entrepreneurship, it's just old fashioned entrepreneurship. His Foundation makes immense profits and making a profit is very important.

Where the entrepreneurship aims to make a profit and little else, aside from a certain amount of brownie points for being green, socially aware or whatever, this is not social entrepreneurship. Where the aim is to increase social capital, although there may be profits as well, this is social entrepreneurship.

There may not always be clear lines between the two, but Bill Gates is definitely on the profit making side of the line.

Until I read your article, I hadn't really used the term to refer to myself or to people I work with. But in a way, I am involved in social entrepreneurship. I look for income generating activities for people in developing countries. The aim is for them to either make money or to reduce expenditure.

For example, I have been teaching people to use and even make solar cookers to reduce their expenditure on fuel. There is also a device called a hay box, which can further reduce fuel use.

There are several aims involved in these projects aside from the obvious economic advantages. Reduction in fuel use has environmental benefits, global benefits and local ones. Globally, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Locally, it reduces exposure to smoke inhalation.

There is also the self sufficiency and self reliance aspect of solar cooking and other sustainable methods. People learn things that are of use elsewhere.

Local materials are used, often materials that would be dumped or underutilised otherwise. And there are other benefits.

People in developing countries use a large proportion of their income on food, which is increasing in price. Fuel costs are also increasing, so reducing fuel use can increase the amount of money available for food and other things.

Of course, some people could make hay boxes and solar cookers and make a profit. But even still, many social benefits accrue.

Is this the kind of thing you are thinking of?
Regards
Simon

Social Entrepreneurship

Natalia,Thanks for your thought provoking article.  I agree with your insights and wish to add a different dimension that specifically affects my country [Kenya] - there is such a disparity in the skills acquired through the education process and what is needed by the employers. Our youth have become unemployable due to this and it is high time organizations rethought their CSR [read social enterprise] to actually commit time and mentor our youth so that they can fit into the workplace and / or become successful business people. I think as organizations look at the social and environmental aspects of the community - which is good and has positive impact but now it is time to equally look at what they can do to empower the educated persons who do not easily fit in.Anne

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.