Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Purpose vs. Profit Driven Venture Creation

I like it. And it is not just the alliteration. I like it because "Purpose" and "Profit" don't sound mutually exclusive whereas "Social" and "Profit" do. When it comes to championing a business approach (vs. philanthropy) to address social issues like job creation, access to education, health care and even climate change, there is no elevator pitch. Most of us in this field talk about "sustainable business" or just stick with social entrepreneurship or social business (substitute venture, capital, purpose, fits) because that is what works in search engines. Historically we are conditioned to think of a business as for profit and philanthropy (or government action) as being for social impact. But we know that the strictly for-profit venture is just as unsustainable long term as is pure charity for social impact - hence the need for a mixed model - where we need profit AND we need social impact. I was reminded of this with a recent email from Jerri Chou, who I met at the "Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business" awards.
Jerri writes "I run a company called All Day Buffet which launches purpose driven ventures, one of which being The Feast Social Innovation Conference. I was really quite excited for your award last night -- for you personally and the social innovation world in general. Much of our work is galvanizing the community and movement on this (east) coast (despite old school philanthropy and investment) so seeing recognition for your work was a pleasant surprise.
Our next venture is also based in education and democratizing creativity and innovation skills through distance learning, (which I noticed you've done some work in) so would love to get your thoughts in case you're interested. Regardless, congratulations again and hope to stay in contact
What I found intriguing about Jerri's work is that her company is trying to change the whole thinking around sustainable business creation not just through launching ventures but also holding events to create mind share and leadership in this area. Coming up is- The Feast: Social Innovation Conference, New York // October 1-2, 2009


Anonymous said...

This new 'definition' of business focus, is in that middle ground, that sweet spot, where capitalism meets morality.

Then when such a business is properly explained to an investor, it should not matter whether Greed or Good is the motivator.


Anonymous said...

great comment - this is exactly the point of the post - Even Adam Smith would agree!