Friday, January 26, 2007

Sir, John Gapper’s column “Anyone can become the CEO of You Inc” (January 22) relating to the “Shifting Power Equation” under discussion at Davos focuses on the newly distributed power to achieve celebrity. Potentially more interesting is the newly distributed power to create change. Along these lines, the event of the week may have been the 2007 Schwab Social Entrepreneurs Summit that just concluded in Zurich.

What is a social entrepreneur? Anyone who takes it upon themselves to organise a solution to a social challenge. Think Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus (founder of Grameen Bank), Larry Brilliant (founder of the Seva Foundation and earlier a leader in the global campaign to eradicate smallpox), and Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia).

Social entrepreneurship is a relatively new term to describe an old concept. This week it made its first appearance in a US State of the Union address. The emerging field is not without its sceptics. Some question using “social” in the term, stating that anyone who creates an organisation to address a public need is an entrepreneur, pure and simple. Regardless of context or motivations, the positive societal impact of entrepreneurship is to force change in the status quo, driving improvements to the provision of goods and services.

This argument has a good deal of merit. Certainly, it would be a serious mistake to draw a line aroundthe phenomenon of “social entrepreneurship” in a way that excludes for-profit ventures. Indeed, what makes social entrepreneurship powerful is the prospect that some of the best models will mix profit and public service, eradicating the false boundary between doing good and doing well.

Continue reading “A model to eradicate false gulf between doing good and doing well

Source: Financial Times (link opens in a new window)