"Poverty is the absence of all human rights"

 

Mohamed Unis – “Banker to the Poor”

Social enterprise is a relatively new form of capitalism, which, helped by the deterioration in conventional economic models, appears to be reaching a tipping-point. Referred to variously as ‘altruistic enterprise’ or ‘social entrepreneurship’ it sees capitalism as a system that works but whose goals have always been narrow and self-serving. There’s nothing inherent in the capitalist machine that would prevent a business venture having as its central intention ‘making the world a better place’ – rather than merely satisfying the appetite of its executive officers and shareholders. In fact, there is now such a feeling of unease about the character of finance, that many shareholders are actively seeking out ethical investments, micro-financing socially-motivated businesses so that, as well as seeing a modest return on their investment, they can also feel that they’re making a difference in a focused way.

 

Altruistic enterprise is a very different animal from charity. With charity (and obviously in some instances charity is the only logical solution to terrible circumstances) the recipient is essentially passive. The idea behind altruistic enterprise, however is the principle of empowerment.

 

Wikipedia definition: A social entrepreneur recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change (a social venture). While a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur focuses on creating social capital. Thus, the main aim of social entrepreneurship is to further social and environmental goals. Social entrepreneurs are most commonly associated with the voluntary and not-for-profit sectors, but this need not preclude making a profit.

 

BusinessWeek now publishes a review of America's twenty-five most promising social entrepreneurs, defining them as "enterprising individuals who apply business practices to solving societal problems”.

 

 

“At its deepest level, it is about revealing possibilities that are currently unseen and releasing the capacity within each person to reshape a part of the world. It does not require elite education; it requires a backpack. The corpus of knowledge in social entrepreneurship comes from first-hand engagement with the world – from asking lots of questions and listening and observing with a deep caring and understanding.

 

Because they do not have armies or police forces behind them, [social entrepreneurs] work to elicit change rather than impose it, so they build human capacity rather than encouraging dependency.

 

Daniel Bornstein – “How To Change The World – Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas”