Thursday, May 21, 2009

Are you a Social Entrepreneur?

On Tuesday I had the distinct pleasure of accompanying Rebecca to a Power Lunch hosted by the Rochester chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). Rebecca was scheduled to speak on the topic of "UnWrapping the mystery of Social Entrepreneurship". After all, Kingdom Ventures (KVI) is a social entrepreneurship venture.

When one thinks of social entrepreneurship, one can easily think of non-profit enterprises that focus on providing charitable contributions to those who are disadvantaged. This is not what KVI is about. We don't believe in handouts; we believe in giving people the tools they need to survive. That means we don't give our suppliers donations; we give them opportunities to be economically self-sufficient.

Rebecca did a great job of explaining that concept as she spoke to the eager ladies around the table. It would be remiss of me not to mention some key points she touched on that stood out in my mind.

Despite the fact that profits are still important, social entrepreneurs do not only focus on the returns gained from financial investments; social entrepreneurs focus on the social ROI (Return on Investment) - the social impact of the investments made. Have the strategies employed really helped with making a difference in the lives of those intended? What is the social value the business has created?

Social entrepreneurs act boldly and see opportunities where many see lost causes. Innovation, persistence and continual adaptation help them to forge ahead to help those to whom they have made a commitment. Passion and dedication keep them pressing ahead whenever obstacles are placed in their way.

Because they are not aiming to create charities, market feedback is a must. Whether the supplier be producing coffee, jewelry, chocolate, whatever, they need to be able to produce quality products that can be sold in the markets they aim to penetrate. The social entrepreneur helps construct that link that provides information on what is necessary to help a product become and remain marketable.

Social entrepreneurs ensure they have a succession plan in place so that their businesses can continue to create social value after they are gone. They don't simply live in the now; they plan. They plan because short term fixes are not their intent; their intent is long term social development.

Do something good for someone today!


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