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Giving Back: Why Social Entrepreneurship is a Win for Everyone
Published on Aug 30, 2012
Read 'Giving Back: Why Social Entrepreneurship is a Win for Everyone' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
If you’re reading this then you are literate, you live in a country with access to the Internet, you are probably not hungry and at least fairly healthy. Do you realize how lucky you are? Now ask yourself this question – what did you do to bring you to this? How much of the credit goes to people who came before you and helped you get where you are? Did your parents feed and clothe you, give you a home and help with your schoolwork? Any scholarships? What about community support such as Scouts or the Boy’s and Girl’s Club? Do you live in a culture where education is valued? Good public or private schools in your past?
The goal here is not to make you feel like you don’t deserve your life – just to get you thinking of those who weren’t as lucky or cared for, and aren’t able to be where you are.
One amazing advantage of working for yourself is the ability to give back to the world that handed you such a good deal. You could donate school supplies to districts where there’s no extra money and teachers are paying for books and paper out of their own pockets. You could contribute to a large organization such as the Red Cross that goes into every community in the U.S. and every disaster-struck area in the world to help make things better. How about creating a scholarship so some other lucky kid gets to fulfill some of his or her dreams?
Many entrepreneurs are taking advantage of their success to give back to others. And there are some who are taking an even bigger step – building social responsibility into their companies. Take a look at Tom’s shoes, which donates a pair of shoes for every pair they sell. Are people paying more for those shoes as a result? Of course they are. But how often do you get to buy a pair of shoes and help a shoeless child at the same time?
The most committed approach to social entrepreneurship is setting up an organization to solve a problem in a country or community using good business and entrepreneurial approaches. Examples include creating ecological tourism opportunities that permit people to discover untrodden parts of the world without doing environmental damage and while helping the local economy. Other examples may include setting up a co-op to enable rural farmers to get a better price for their produce while providing fresher fruits and vegetables to urban dwellers, or banding a village together to install a solar or wind-powered generator for everyone’s benefit.
While some of these are non-profit organizations, more and more people are recognizing the possibility of “doing well by doing good.” Some social entrepreneurial organizations may start with grants or seed money but then develop into self-supporting or even profit-generating ventures. This provides a good opportunity to turn those profits into seed money for other worthwhile projects.
Here’s the amazing thing. When you take people who have been living at a subsistence level and help them create better lives and build bigger dreams, they become the core of the next economically-successful community or country. And those people will have more money to spend and enough understanding to support others as they move up.
A rising tide floats all boats. You were born lucky. Doesn’t everyone deserve that?