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Emerging Model Marries Technology and Hope- By: Dr. Scott Fredrickson

Posted By Barbara Cox, Monday, February 24, 2014
Dr. Scott Fredrickson is a Professor of Entrepreneurship & Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Learning Center at Saddleback College

It seems to be a repeated pattern that when the economy takes a downturn, our institutions of higher education see enrollment increases. Long-time workers find themselves in need of new skills or of updating their existing ones. Education programs that emphasize job or career preparation feel the impact and work to provide the most and the best. Following the most recent major downturn, the pattern held, and colleges were pressed to move students forward toward new or changed careers, and to do so with fewer resources to do so.

Interestingly, another phenomenon happened on the way, one not always seen in the old pattern. Attention came to focus as much or more on building businesses as on preparing jobs. We needed to create the jobs, not wait for bandages to bring back the old ones. At the same time, and with speed we’d not seen previously, emerging technologies, innovation, and the creativity of a new generation, coalesced to make the possibilities for new businesses surge forward.

One more phenomenon seems to have been taking hold, and some will tell you that this one, too, is generational. Maybe it has been an awakening, an outcome of growing awareness on unprecedented scales. Let me share a short observation with you. Several teachers of business have contributed their experience that getting students motivated to plan a business is a challenge. Some of the most engaged of students would announce their intention to become wealthy by inventing a new app, or to live "in the fast lane” by selling "really hot t-shirts!” These teachers now tell me, and I see it myself, that the current wave of students wants to do something remarkable, whether minor or great, to help the world. And they want to do it by creating a business that will do it, and make money down this path. Furthermore, they feed this motivation by learning about engineering, sustainable agriculture, energy savings and generation, health sciences, people, technologies … you name the question. These students want to enter the arena of economic growth by creating solutions to serious, deep-rooted problems and the businesses to deliver them.

Developing Sustainable Business Models

The concept that describes this business mission is social entrepreneurship, the development of   sustainable business models to solve chronic social issues. Since the inception of the term in 1980 by Bill Drayton founder of Ashoka, the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, social entrepreneurs have developed innovative solutions to many of society’s most pressing social problems. Social entrepreneurs act as change agents for society by drawing upon thinking in both the business and non-profit worlds to develop new approaches to a company’s mission and thus sustain social value. Finally, after 34 years of being perceived as "charity work,” social entrepreneurship is coming into its own.

Examples of sustainable businesses with a social conscience include:

VisionSpring – a combination of Mary Kay and LensCrafters that sells inexpensive reading glasses across India, China, and Latin America. This business employs local sales reps using the Grameen Bank micro-finance model that has proven successful across Bangladesh.
TerreCycle – produces over 250 products from 60 waste streams that would otherwise be destined for landfills.

Thermpod – manufactures a sleeping bake-like device that warms low-birth babies in hospitals and clinics in areas that have unreliable electricity and heat lamps that don’t always work.

Intrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship can also operate with an existing business structure. Intrepreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur within an existing organization. Finding the collaboration of social  good and smart business as well a meeting the needs of the community is becoming the new standard against which we judge the health and worth of a business. Business typically measures performance by accounting standards of profit and loss. Social entrepreneurs must also use these standards but take into account a positive return to society. These broad social, cultural and environmental goals are most commonly associated with nonprofit organizations. But when embraced by a business organization, can foster sustainable profits and positive community goodwill.

Triple Bottom Line

The "triple bottom line" was first coined by John Elkington in 1994. He proposed that companies should be measured with three bottom lines; profit or loss, plus social and environmental concerns.” These additional two lines would measure how socially responsible the company has been to their community and the environment.
For example, if a company made a profit, but neglected maintenance on their storage tanks that eventually burst, polluting a major river providing drinking water for a large population, and the government ends up spending taxpayer money on river clean-up, how would this company be measures?

In today’s world, a socially sustainable business must develop three measurable objectives:

1. Profitability – A business must continue to make money developing products and services the market deems worthy and protect shareholder equity.
2. Socially responsibility – A business must be aware and respond to the social and community needs of its employees, customers, other stakeholders, and markets.
3. Environmental awareness – A business must commit to sustainable environmental practices to ensure the health of the community, reduce waste, and conserve energy.

Social Entrepreneur Challenge

In 2013, the state of Michigan launched the Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneur Challenge. The goal of this public-private effort was to develop innovative solutions to help solve chronic and social issues like poverty and hunger by applying sustainable free market models.

Michigan was the first state to hold a social entrepreneur competition and was extremely pleased with over 400 participants and 150 business plans submitted. 10 winners were selected and coached to pitch their business models to potential investors. 8 of the winners are currently in the process of obtaining investments of well over $200,000 from investors and non-profits foundations.  

Orange County Social Entrepreneurship Competition  

Saddleback College will host the nation's first county-wide social entrepreneur competition May 10, 2014. Saddleback’s competition will follow the Michigan model and help entrepreneurs discover local, organic, and innovative solutions to problems like homelessness, poverty, and hunger by applying free market, sustainable business models. Finalists can potentially win over $125,000 in cash, prizes, and chatting services. In addition, finalists will have a rare opportunity to pitch their ideas to social impact investors from across the nation with a chance to get funded upwards of $100,000. The goal of the competition is to educate students and the community that profits alone are not the only measure of success and sustainability. Everyone must participate in the social revolution. Learn what Saddleback College is doing to make a difference.

How To Participate  

Social entrepreneurs who wish to participate should go online to the Saddleback College Entrepreneurship & Innovation Learning Center at:  Entrepreneurship.Saddleback.edu  Once individuals or teams submit their ideas, they will be able to access coaches from the Saddleback College network to help develop their projects and presentations. Online and in-person events will be offered to further assist participants in refining their submissions before the final May application deadline.

Bibliography
https://www.ashoka.org/social_entreprener
http://www.xconomy.com/detroit/2013/02/04/puremichigansocialentrepreneurshipchallenge/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/pure-michigan-social-entr_n_3474445.html http://www.michipreneur.com/pure-michigan-social-entrepreneurship-winners/ http://www.metromodemedia.com/innovationnews/socialentrepreneurshipchallenge0305.aspx http://thechallenge.michigancorps.org https://www.facebook.com/MichCorps/photos_stream http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_entrepreneurship http://www.pbs.org/opb/thenewheroes/whatis/ http://www.schwabfound.org/content/what-social-entrepreneur
http://www.economist.com/node/14301663 http://sustain.wisconsin.edu/about-sustainable-management/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/helencoster/2011/11/30/forbes-list-of-the-top-30  socialentrepreneurs/    

Tags:  Entrepreneurship  Entrepreneurship Challenge  Saddleback College  Triple Bottom Line 

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