Do you dream of working in a job where you could “do well, by doing good?”. You’re not alone, and many others in the Mid West are turning that dream into a reality. They are ‘social entrepreneurs’. Social entrepreneurship is a new concept and being used to describe a growing number of people who are motivated by an unment need in their community and develop innovative, sustainable solutions to meet those needs.
In old-school thinking, business was about bringing in the big bucks, with some handed out to charities to look after the downtrodden and despondent. New thinking is emerging around the world, and is lead by some very bright international stars like:
- Muhammad Yunus who has grown a highly-succesful model of banking for the poor that challenges dominant paradigms about money, responsibility and entrepreneurship, and was recently recognised with a Nobel prize,
- Jamie Oliver who’s more famous initiatives have both popular television shows and highly politically-effective (e.g. School Dinners and Food Revolution) and include a social-enterprise training restaurant ‘Fifteen‘,
- Richard Branson who’s latest book says “Screw businesss as usual, you CAN make a living through making an impact” and who’s ventures have included the remarkable $25million ‘Earth Challenge‘ and formation of ‘The Elders‘
In all cases these people have undoubtedly done well out of doing good, all came to the ‘good’ part slightly later in their already-successful careers and now have all undoubtedly had a massive impact on global thought, local economies and human behaviour.
Many ‘not for profit’ organisations and activists are moving to the same position of ‘doing well by doing good’ by finding ways to free themselves from the treadmill of handouts and grants and shifting their attention from a constant fight ‘against’ the current system or problem and increasing their focus on new solutions, positive responses, and independent initiatives. It’s this combination of doing well and doing good that brings so much energy. It’s more meaningful than just making money, and the financial incentive tends to open up so many more creative than defaulting to donor dependency.
The most exciting thing about this new concept is the number of people in the Mid West who already identify themselves as social entrepreneurs: Renewable energy start-ups, media and design magnates-in-the-making, recycling and ‘upcycling’ businesses, local and organic agriculture enterprises, numerous businesses that create jobs for the disadvantaged and more.
Perhaps you can think of people you personally know who are doing well by doing good? If you can, send them our way. If you can’t think of any, then keep reading, as we’ll be featuring local social entrepreneurs and their ventures in future posts.