Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Transformative Potential of Social Entrepreneurship

I went to the AIF-Stanford University event "Transformative Potential of Social Entrepreneurship" not only as a supporter of AIF’s Digital Equalizer (DE) program but also because I wanted to show AIF my support of the topic, especially as it applies to the India growth story. I also hoped I would meet some new people and I did. While the whole program was energising, the bonus came from David Bornstein keynote and discussion. Insights about social entrepreneurship for me were:
1- Heart-driven: the reason why social entrepreneurs were effective and tended to outperform other entrepreneurs - Tolstoy quote :"everything I know, I know only because I love"
2- Profit vs. non-profit: "nothing will work but everything might". For profit structure is highly built so easier. But bringing organic green vegetables to inner cities will only happen for a non-profit at this time.
3- Role of supporters: figure out how government and business can meet regularly to create a friendship model (heart driven) of working together (as opposed to being adversaries doing lip-service)
4- Role of media- find stories of hope to bring about change - its like being a hunter/gatherer - there is so much negative news, the good gets drowned. Media can create a "Yahoo effect" - where a few good examples can get a movement going
5- Role of technologists: what are the technology platforms that can change the game?
6- Academics - create a discipline (minor) in Social Entrepreneurship - is happening but not very common

Other useful tips:
L3C- low profit for benefit hybrid model - now gaining ground in California: http://l3ccalifornia.org/# (also B Corp)
SOCAP - social business capital where funder gets capital back but no return - e.g. Acumen fund; Beyond Profit is a magazine that could have a "yahoo effect".

The message of the panel discussions was - "partner, partner, partner" - this field has been one of pioneers (with the arrows in the back) but now that situation is changed - to scale one must partner.