From Innocence to a Political Future
The grand narrative of social entrepreneurship is everywhere: heroic individuals build innovative solutions to transform the texture of the world’s social fabric. What have we learned in a decade of emergent debate on the topic? What are the effects of a topic nobody, be it policy makers, professors, students, or parents, can avoid touching upon one way or another? A decade ago the topic was eclectically discussed, infusing small circles of dispersed professional communities such as development experts, nonprofit managers, and small elites of foundation visionaries and its beneficiaries. Today professional communities, career trajectories, and financial and political resources navigate around the topic.
Can social enterprises like Fairphone can help achieve a world free of conflict mineral products?
Starting a social enterprise in a region that has experienced genocide may be considered crazy by some and selfless by others. But few recognize that these regions can offer sound business opportunities that can benefit communities and catalyze positive development. Zachary Kaufman, author of Social Entrepreneurship in the Age of Atrocities, shares his experiences in helping found the first public library in Kigali, Rwanda.
Umbilical cord blood transplants cure more than 70 serious diseases, but public cord blood banking requires funding. Governments and nonprofits are increasingly addressing the issue, but thousands of patients still die every year while waiting to find a match in the public registry. Social enterprises—which hybridize for-profit business with charitable missions—are known for the type of innovative business models that could be game-changers for cord blood banking.
By seeing firsthand the problems caused by lack of access to electricity in rural Africa, Sameer Hajee has found the drive and empathy to take action. This unlocking of passion through real-life experience is common among many social entrepreneurs, quickly becoming a model that is being embraced by university programs. His story has helped me find my inner drive – can he help you to find yours?
The underlying principles of recycling and their relevance in a business model can be used to revive local economies.
The concept of reusing human resources and abandoned physical assets if applied correctly can be the catalyst towards increasing economic activity. Archer Groupe located in Romans-sur-Isère in Drome, France is a prime example of a successful application of this unique concept.
Many new products promise to address consumption-related woes. Yet many of these products fall short of promises, creating a false sense of absolution and at times exacerbating other associated problems. In order to meaningfully address overconsumption, these products would, paradoxically, have to actually reduce primary consumption.
How do we measure a return on human development? Genuine Voices, a non-profit working with detention centers in the US that leverages the determination of volunteers to help adolescent boys, set out to measure their impact. After encountering difficulties, they learned that some things are naturally unquantifiable, and that in lieu of ways to directly report a “return on mission”, maybe emotional buzz is enough to support sustainability. In the Darwinian world of for-profits, only the strongest survive. We have countless ratios like return on investment, return on equity, return on sales, etc., to rate the performance and financial solvency of major companies.
For more than a decade, Finnish researcher Sakari Virkki developed an investment portfolio whose annual rate of return at the end of 2012 was 129.24% above that of the S&P500, an index generally acknowledged as the leading gauge of performance in U.S. stock markets. Employing his new methodology at an incredibly low operating cost, Virkki could have developed his model into a high-profit investment bank and retired early to a private island.
In what is known as the “obesity paradox,” studies are increasingly demonstrating that, compared to thin people, fat people are just as healthy, live just as long, and are actually more likely to survive certain diseases. Meanwhile, dieting itself is shown to lead to serious health issues. Nonprofits and social enterprises that equate thinness with health thrive by exploiting socially acceptable prejudice, spreading bad science, and stigmatizing those they claim to help. How do you fight world hunger? Fight obesity, says Table For Two (TFT), an international nonprofit that health and fat activists are calling misguided and offensive.
Steady access to capital is still a long ways off for pioneering local food entrepreneurs in Detroit. However, cooperation amongst entrepreneurs and mounting advocacy for innovative business structures are bringing secure funding into the horizon. DETROIT, United States – Detroit’s local food pioneers are transforming the fallow landscape and bringing nutritious cuisine to eager restaurants and families all across this notorious food desert. Despite demand from the community, many of these entrepreneurs are struggling to secure capital. The path to stable funding is complex and subjective, but enormous strides can be made with better enterprise planning on a micro scale and policy advocacy for alternative business models on a macro scale.