Social Entrepreneurs to Play Bigger Role in China

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

BEIJING, May 20 (Xinhuanet)
— A country confronted with such problems as wealth polarization, insufficient resources for education in rural areas, China has much room in its civil society for “social entrepreneurs” to play a bigger role, said Dorit Lehrack, senior consultant with the China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO).

She made the remarks at a forum on “social entrepreneurs” here on Friday, where domestic and overseas experts and entrepreneurs gathered to discuss the role of social entrepreneurs in social welfare and nonprofit work.

A concise definition of “social entrepreneur”, a newly emergent work in civil affairs, was not devised at the forum. However, as Lehrack observed, more and more entrepreneurs in Europe have become increasingly interested in aid programs for the weak, with their support by their governments. In Germany, profit-making organizations that contribute to the nonprofit sector receive favorable tax treatment.

She said social services provided by “social entrepreneurs” can be calculated in a certain way. She hopes that the Chinese government can go on arousing social entrepreneurs by adjusting relevant policies and conducting further research on feasibility and maneuverability.

Zhu Chuanju, a well-known American scientist of Chinese origin who helped invent the world’s first computer in 1946, said that sustainable development in China in the 21st century needs joint effort from the whole society, and especially the active participation of “social entrepreneurs”.

Shao Minglu, chairman of the board of Bright Group. Co. Ltd, has helped 4,000 laid off workers and 3,000 rural students return to work and study, respectively. At present, he is trying to help farmers get better of on their own with bank loans.

“A good company should give back to the society where it got all the resources for its development,” acknowledged Shao.

Daniel J. Dudek, chief economist with the Environmental Defense in the United States, was granted a “friendship award” last year, the top prize for foreign experts by the Chinese government. He said more encouraging governmental policies and the awakening sense of social responsibility of entrepreneurs will lay a solid foundation for sustainable development in China.

The forum was hosted by the CANGO and Bright China Foundation.

Source: Xinhua News (link opens in a new window)