Shared Economy & Social Change

Shared economy or collaborative consumption is not a new concept. Your ride in Uber or Lyft or your stay with Airbnb is an example of peer to peer collaborative consumption. What makes this concept interesting is the ability of the shared economy based companies to provide simplified yet delightful experiences to consumers. Such an easy services driven concept is enabled by technology and is silently making a profound impact on our society- leading a Social Change.

By definition Social change is a process of major changes over a period of time in pattern of behavior, cultural values and norms of society. These changes have long term impact on the society. So, let’s understand how these new age companies working on old model of Shared economy are helping to bring a Social Change:

1. Socially we are moving from Ownership to Sharing: If you closely look at these companies, they neither offer any technology for you to use nor they offer direct services. The delightful experiences are delivered by someone who is sharing the goods and services with you. This is helping people to move from full ownership to a sharing model thus opening up to unknown set of people from across the globe. This mode of sharing can’t be seen as selling as the provider of services is letting you be a part of something that they completely own & probably use as part of their daily lives. The more people share more they grow & more they grow the more they share. This way we are moving from I & you to we & us leading to a harmonized happy world. This is the foundation of the new direction and a paradigm shift that is leading a new way of life – a Social Change.

2.We are trusting the unknown: Every time you consume a service through the shared economy model you trust the unknown. Yes there are reviews about the services you are planning to consume but you have to trust reviews from people whom you don’t know and hence it is trusting the unknown. Consumers from one part of the globe are trusting people from another part of the globe – which they may have never visited. Imagine this – you have planned a holiday trip in Chicago and will be travelling from the comforts of your home in Colombo. You have booked a room through Airbnb and know nothing about your host in Chicago. The only source of information are some of the great reviews about the host. You still go ahead, complete a great stay with the host and give them 5 star reviews. This is really happening and happening all around the world at a pace faster than your reading speed. Phenomenal. We as a Society are willing to trust more & take more risks to become global citizens. Looking more optimistically, this model of mutual respect & trust is succeeding more than the traditional model of consumption. This ability to trust the unknown is challenging well established brands. It is making them innovate and win consumer’s trust on the basis of improved services or value or else they clearly face extinction. We are sharing more, we are also caring more and we are now trusting more as a Society.

3. We are embracing change: When you opt for services through the Shared Economy model you are moving from the traditional set up to a completely new model of consumption. The old models are more mature and it’s easy to go with the old and trusted way of doing things but the world is embracing this change. If the growth of companies like Uber or Airbnb is any indicator then it’s clear that world is moving almost in one direction and that is to move from traditional system to a new age model. When you look at leading surveys you will find that Airbnb is booking more rooms than Hilton or Uber operates in more than 250 cities and has better market valuation when compared to many leading Airlines in the world. This is not a surprise at all. With proliferation of mobile connectivity & internet we will see this change being embraced by a larger population thus ensuring a deeper & more significant impact on the society.

4. We are supporting Social entrepreneurship: Imagine this – an old lady in UK has a 3 room apartment near city center and she doesn’t want to put it on long term (1 year or more) rent as her distant family visits her once or twice in a year. At the same time she wants to monetize the real estate investment. She likes to meet people and doesn’t want to be lonely. With the shared economy model she can do all of this at the ease of few clicks. All that she needs to do is to have the details uploaded on Airbnb or similar portals that she trusts. She can not only monetize the investments but will also have the opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds. No need to go through the hassles of contracting with every tenant or hire staff to run the show, no running around authorities, no need of posting costly ads, no follow ups and no need to engage real estate agents. In this new model she can run her own business in simple yet very effective way. When the society starts supporting its constituents the progress is inevitable. The entire world- well almost- is coming together to support you in making you successful. That’s social entrepreneurship.

5. And we are helping the Environment: This one is easy to understand but has the most important impact on our future. When you opt for car-sharing, bike-sharing or a ride-sharing you are actually helping to reduce carbon footprints, you are saving fuel and everything related to it. Instead of buying new stuff we are re-utilizing and monetizing existing assets by sweating them which is always better than throwing and buying new. Shared economy model helps to reuse stranded assets like cars, bikes to vacant rooms as well as toys which otherwise sits idle occupying space and are seldom used. Underutilized goods turn into waste quickly and this model helps eliminate that. By doing this we are helping ease pressure on environment by lowering the amount of old goods that are discarded or thrown and also reducing the ever increasing demands of new goods. Add to this reduced traffic congestion, savings due to lower consumption of energy and resources and you will be able to clearly see the benefits of this new model on our Society as a whole. We are helping ourselves and the future of the society as a whole.

As you would have observed there is an inevitable change that we all are going through- we are sharing more, we are accepting more, we are embracing new, we are becoming diverse and we are making tomorrow better. This is definitely a big paradigm shift which will slowly lead to a Social revolution with far more lasting impact than current technological advancements.

With the rise of Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud or SMAC in short this change will further deepen and start impacting bottom of our social pyramid.

Do You Have a Touch of Social Entrepreneurship in You?

What do you think is the motive behind every business organisation or the people who run the show? Is it purely restricted to making profits or is there something more to it? Well, at once people will start talking about profit maximisation, wealth maximisation, retaining the market share, protecting the stake holders’ interest and so on. But after a point, business persons need to look at larger problems that affects the society, from which they derive their benefits. Is it not the moral responsibility of a businessman to improve and better the prospects of his fellow beings by shelling out a slice of his profit or think of creating new job opportunities for communities that have low economic standards.

Let us detour “Everwin Corporation”, the multi billion dollar company to understand and appreciate the business model evolved by its Chairman Mr. C, that has helped hundreds of poor workers earn their daily bread and butter. First I have to shed some light on Mr. C’s management ability and lateral thinking, that has brought about a significant difference in the lives of people, not only below the poverty line, but also in the lives of criminals and suspects who are generally treated unkindly by the society at large. His master plan was to create new solutions for these people, through small business ventures, which would be an outlet to their creativity. So the products would not only exhibit creativity but also humanity.

His idea was a major success, but to the envy of his competitors. Mister Dumpy, his CEO cum brother-in-law was terrified at the very idea of taking in ex-criminals into the corporation for work and he would always bypass the HP SECTION(Humanity Products, as it was called aptly), en route to the office. Man, you should look at his face, he acts funny when he getsscared. Though initially the same kind of reaction poured from all corners of the corporation, slowly the team began to appreciate the strong will with which the workers of the humanity products section progressed and the outcome was fantabulous. The products had such a finesse that they are contemplating about export opportunities now.

Each entrepreneur has his own idea about the society, but very few bring about the much needed transformations, which is just a “spark of their mind”. Mr. C, was one such social entrepreneur who acted as a change agent and implemented social reforms through business opportunities on a large sale. Titan, our young executive of Everwin Corporation is very happy and pleased, that he is working for Mr. C, and the chairman often takes him into confidence, when it comes to important decision making. He is truly inspired by his boss, which is truly a motivation factor for him to work with more enthusiasm and zeal.

Mr. C has truly been a visionary, a philanthropist, a man of balanced perspectives, always on the look out for new business opportunities, an institute by himself, providing direction to the firm by employing strategic changes and above all, a man spruced up with compassion and consideration. Naturally the workers under his guidance were empowered and the real edge that Mr. C, had over his competitors was the self charged work force that he possessed.

Understanding and Quantifying Twitter Usage

How do we to get the biggest bang for our social media buck? In other words, understanding the metrics of Twitter is on everyone’s mind these days. As marketers attempt to determine the efficacy of their overall social media marketing strategy and how “the new kid on the block” fits into it, the challenge becomes, how do we optimize and monetize our efforts? In other words, how do we quantify Twitter?

As noted in the first two articles in this series, Twitter has taken the world by storm. Or to use a corny pun, Twitter has the Internet a-flutter! The fact is, the growth rate of Twitter is nothing short of phenomenal. The mini-blogging phenomenon has taken the social media world by storm, 140 characters at a time. On Thursday, June 25, 2009, Alexa ranked Twitter #17 in the world, up 66 in 3 months, with an average rank of 36. The growth has been steady, with quite a few peaks and very few valleys. In fact, the valleys seem to be reflective of daily usage patterns rather than any sort of a dip in popularity. The only two areas of decline are in Pageviews/User and Time on Site, down 14.2% and 5%, respectively. The popularity of Twitter in the United States is immediately apparent, with 43.5% of all traffic coming from the States. However, the social media phenomenon is also ranked high in South Africa at #10, #13 in Australia with 2.6% of all traffic to the site originating Downunder, #14 in the US and UK, with 6.2% of all Twitter traffic originating in the British Isles. Significantly, Germany is ranked #20, contributing 8.7% of all traffic to the site, second only to the US. Finally, Japan #137, Russia #153, France #161, and China #169 are at the bottom of the list, in terms traffic rank for those countries listed by Alexa.

One of the most remarkable things about Twitter is that it is entirely free, at least in terms of dollars and cents. Interestingly, the real cost, and one difficult if not impossible to quantify, is the cost in terms of time. As Marc Warnke notes in “ONO: Options Not Obligations,” his masterpiece on “Family First Entrepreneurship,” “money is time.” Marc Warnke discusses, at length, the link between family and business, the book is an awesome template for business and life. “Money is time,” not the other way around! An interesting point, crucial to understanding the real value of time, one that takes some time to get your thinking wrapped around. The book is an awesome template for business and life, one that places emphasis where it belongs and creates a new awareness of the value of time and family.

Money is time!

With Marc’s words in mind, it is easily recognized that Twitter can be addictive. Beyond that, the real benefits of having a presence on the social media platform may be difficult to track in terms of traditional “metrics.” Yes, I know I just used a gobbledygook term! “Metrics!” The real and lasting value of an online presence on Twitter, an Internet image if you will, may rest with the fact that the social media platform offers the “newbie,” just beginning to emerge as an Internet marketer, to establish himself or herself with a foothold, a place to test the waters and hone their message and skills. The advantage to such a presence should be immediately apparent, particularly if the entrepreneur has chosen the Internet marketing niche, a niche that may appear incredibly incestuous at times. A social media presence may allow the new marketer an opportunity to assert himself or herself in what some have referred to as an “old boy network,” and others have referred to as a “high school clique,” of sorts. Whether a valid point or not, the difficulty for the “newbie” to break into the Internet marketing niche is eased somewhat by the ability to connect, build relationships, and indeed bond with perspective clients and fellow entrepreneurs, alike.

So, how do you track the effectiveness of your social media marketing campaign on Twitter or on any other social networking site for that matter? Remember, I called that phrase, “social media marketing,” an oxymoron in a previous article! Beyond that, what is the return on investment (ROI) in this case; and, the chief investment being…time? Before we get into the various tools available to track message and impact, the balancing act between message and selling must be addressed. In other words, when does your message become spam and when is it posting useful information? Because of the nature of this very unique social media platform, it is recognized, even by Twitter, that because you consent to follow someone, either by following or following back, that the dynamics of the relationship come with an implied permission to message. If you don’t like the message, you may simply unfollow the messenger!

During an unscientific study conducted over the course of an hour on one of the slower days for Twitter, Saturday, June 27, 2009, I counted links. Peak days are actually Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The next highest “tweeting” day of the week is Friday, probably as a result of #FollowFriday, then Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and finally, Sunday. I counted tweets during the peak period for tweets on any day, from 12:22pmEST to I:22pmEST. And, I counted the number of links per page at 5 minute intervals, for 10 minutes at a time. The number of links was actually pretty surprising! Of 800 tweets, 20 per page, 200 every 10 minutes, there were 636 links provided by 612 Tweeple. Interestingly, 2 Twitterers or Tweeple linking up more than once on the same tweet, 1 with 3 on the same tweet. That’s 79.5% of all tweets having links, provided in 76.5%of all tweets provided on the individual Twitter result pages or TWRPs!

Spam or not to spam, that is the question?

Whether ’tis nobler to tweet for tweets’ sake, as opposed to “for Pete’s sake,” little pun there, or is it OK to link away? The evidence seems to suggest that the group-think allows it, if not by rule, certainly by action. However, I cannot help hearing the admonition of Mark Twain, written in his 1904 Notebook, that…”

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).”

Certainly, the majority, by example seems to condone and even encourage what I have come to call “linking up!” I have covered my feelings on this topic at length in a previous article, and intend to address it again in an upcoming series, but suffice it to say that while I too, from time to time “link up,” I am a reformed “linker,” a reformed “linkaholic,” if you will. I do suggest an occasional program and even offer an affiliate link now and then but “I can handle it!” Sound familiar? I wonder! The fact is, linking up may be hazardous to your social media life, and to you Internet image. Why? For a myriad of reasons, some already covered and some we will cover in the upcoming articles.

Back to “metrics,” and how to quantify your Twitter experience. The first tool worth mentioning is TwitterCounter. This application has a number of useful features. The feature immediately apparent upon entering the site is the graph showing the recent follower buildup. The side panel also displays other recent trends, such as growth per day and predictions for the future. It is also possible to compare Tweeple, more than two at a time if you ever had a need for such information. Additionally, you can track your overall follow/follower growth over last few months, as well as the number of tweets during that period. The app also provides a “badge” for your blog or website, featuring the latest Twitter follower stats. There are also a number of other toys you can play around with but they are distractions, beyond the scope of this article.

The next tool to review, one that is also basic like TwitterCounter, yet offers a few nice advantages and is actually quite a powerful application, is Tweetstats. This Twitter application allows you to track how active you have been with a rather nice, colorful graph providing the number of tweets per hour, per day, per month, a nice Tweet timeline, the number of reply statistics, and the number of @’ed Tweeps. On the day this article was written, the number one spot for @’ed Tweeps belonged to DonnieWahlberg with 133, and that was as of 2:33pmEST. The day’s Top 10 Twitte apps are listed as follows: the web, as in Twitter direct, led the way with 58.6%; TweetDeck was next, at 8%; mobile web (iPhones) followed, at 5.7%; and, twitterfeed was right behind, at 5.6%. TweetStats also includes the day’s “Top 10 Trends” and “Current Trending,” useful information for marketers. The application also provides two clouds, one with the “Top 50 Trends of All Time” and the other “Today’s Twitter TrendCloud.”

While a very attractive tool, and one with a great deal of promise, the length of time required to access the information is a real drawback and one that may push Tweeple out the door, particularly those with too little time to wait for the system to load the information requested. I got this as I waited:

Please be patient while I load your tweets. You are currently queued, with 439 other people. – Have a party! Hey, what can I say – people want their stats! ;o)

Interestingly, once the information is finally available, in my opinion at least, it was worth the wait. Tweetstats provides a “Your Tweet Timeline,” broken down by the day (tpd) and by the month, a “Tweet Density” broken down by the day and by the hour, very cool, “Aggregate Daily Tweets,” “Aggregate Hourly Tweets,” “Replies to @’s” (as a percentage of total tweets), the “Interface” most often used (i.e., web, TweetDeck, etc.), and “Who You Retweet” (RT’s as a percentage of total tweets). This is a great tool for tracking time spent, when that time was spent, and whom you have been tweeting with, to, and about. On a single page, this offers as much useful information as any tool available.

Next in line is a site called Twist Flaptor, just one of the applications offered by Flaptor, a very useful information retrieval engine. You may already be familiar with another Flaptor application, TwitterSearch Flaptor. The Twist Flaptor application is very helpful for breaking information down over periods of time, providing a glance at various trends and activity patterns, as well. The big difference with Twist is the fact that it is very powerful and quite up-to-date. Not only can you get trends for the last 24 hours, you can get them for the past 7 days and the last 30 days, all on the same graph. It will also provide the actual tweets for any keyword, and trend, you are interested in for any given day. Very useful! The side panel on Twist also provides the current “Trending topics,” including the most popular links, something the others do not offer. Overall, this application is quite useful, particularly when used in concert with other apps, and may add to our overall marketing strategy.

Last but certainly not least is Hubspot’s Twitter Grader! The Grader application is available for Twitter and for facebook. Twitter Grader is very interesting and useful, collecting data and then running it through an algorithm to establish the measure of an individual’s reach, authority, and even their power on Twitter. As the developer of the Grader explains how it measures and “grades” users, “when you tweet, what kind of an impact does it have?” The application measures number of followers you have, the power of those followers, the number of updates and the recency of those updates, the following/follower ratio is accounted for, and the “engagement” level, based on the reach of an individual user. Once all of the above factors are entered, a grade calculation, a ranking, and an evaluation as to “areas of concern,” if any, are delivered. The Twitter Grader also offers a powerful search application, several features of adding badges to blogs and websites, others for making tweeting easier, and still others for discovering the top users, cities, states, and countries are. Overall, the HubSpot Twitter Grader is a very nice application and one every marketer should have in his or her arsenal.

There are other Twitter tools we will discuss in the next article in this series on Twitter and social media. Some of the tools to be discussed are awesome for tracking links, some are great for ascertaining overall influence, some for helpful for tracking “ReTweets,” and still others are good for establishing how deep and wide your reach is on Twitter and in social media generally. Additionally, we will discuss applications with marketing possibilities, particularly those tracking up-to-the-minute keyword and trends on a display similar to a Twitter page. Overall, Twitter offers a number of possibilities for marketers and should be considered a valuable tool. However, it is still this author’s opinion that many are simply not using Twitter properly or at least to its fullest advantage. We will continue to discuss this position during the ongoing series of articles on social media, and yes, “social media marketing.”

Another Internet Marketer’s Ploy Or Genuine Social Entrepreneurship?

Can being a philanthropist actually increase profits? With the advent of the FTC rulings regarding promotion and testimonials, the market space has changed because there is now more transparency for the consumer. Marketers have to differentiate themselves and make their personal offers much more interesting and appealing than their competitors. As a result, internet marketers are getting creative and coming up with new ways to continue making sales. One trend that is emerging in this regard is some marketers are now indicating during their sales campaigns, that they will support certain charities with a portion of their sales proceeds. So the question is, are they doing this merely as a marketing tactic to demonstrate how big their heart is and draw sales their way because they are “Good People”, or are they genuinely leaning toward social entrepreneurship with their business, and it is simply permeating into their advertising as well?

I suppose the most appropriate way to start this analysis is to understand if there is an allure or attraction to all things philanthropist in the first place.

Money attracts money. The most prominent philanthropists of our time are Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. In 2009, the richest people in America gathered together in New York, at the request of Gates and Buffet, to hear about their project to get them all to pledge 50% of their combined wealth to charity before they die. This was the first of several of these mega- philanthropist “recruiting” dinners. It is not public knowledge how many of these billionaires signed up for the Giving Pledge, but Gates and Buffet are said to be making a huge positive impact.

But being a philanthropist is not the exclusive domain of the mega-wealthy. There are also many other socially responsible entrepreneurs who support causes with proceeds of their businesses. For example, Inc. magazine recently featured a story about a young entrepreneur, Bryan Sims, taking the Giving Pledge early on in his career. We also hear of many people starting their own foundations in support of specific causes. For example, Mark Hoverson, an internetwork marketer, announced earlier this year that he was creating a foundation to help young kids learn the necessary skills to become successful entrepreneurs. These are but two of countless individuals who have decided to pay it forward and support causes. As a matter of fact, according to Giving USA, charitable donations exceed $300 billion per year.

While there are the obvious fiscal benefits of giving, this cannot be the only reason. In fact, supporting a cause with which one truly relates has a much deeper value and that is one of purpose and self-actualization. So it is not unlikely that internet marketers also seek purpose and fulfillment like this in their own lives. It is not a stretch to assume this trend will continue either, as home-based and internet-based businesses become a significant economic contributor over the coming years.

Identifying with Purpose attracts. We know this to be true. We are inclined to make donations to causes we can identify with or relate to. This is how charities conduct their fundraising campaigns. So it is also very plausible that we could identify with a person, a company, or a brand that supports a given cause. For example, Paul Newman’s, Newman’s Own brand of products comes to mind. One hundred per cent of profits from sales of these products goes to support charity. Since 1982, Newman’s Own has given $300 million to charities within the US and abroad. Knowing this, I may be more inclined to purchase a Newman’s Own barbecue sauce over another brand when they are side by side on the supermarket shelf.

Recently, Jonathan Budd announced during one of his marketing campaigns that he was donating 20% of his commissions to Charity Water. Budd went on to become the highest producing affiliate in this campaign and won himself a brand new Audi R8 for his efforts. Did his announcement get him these results? We can’t assume that it was the only reason, but if his social entrepreneurship approach AND his chosen charity resonated with his audience, you can surely see how this benefited his sales volume.

So while it’s impossible to say with complete certainty if these types of marketing actions are sincere or driven by motivations to increase sales, provided that the claims are true and the money actually is given to charity, the result is that positive change is happening and it is the causes that are benefitting. In the end, whether the internet marketer (become philanthropist) is genuine or not is really a moot point.

Patch is a running philanthropist and founder of Groupe Synergos Inc. His company donates 10% of profits to the charities he supports through his marathons. Patch recently created a new blog dedicated to his passions which include running and social entrepreneurship.

Differentiating Between Social Entrepreneurship, Nonprofits, and Traditional Business

What is social entrepreneurship and why is the concept so confusing to so many people? When most people think of business in our capitalistic society, the choice seems to be between doing well or doing good. “Doing good” for social entrepreneurs means making a difference by applying original business strategies to further social and environmental goals. Social entrepreneurs build profitable business models in which doing good is an intrinsic part of the business and not just a philanthropic sideline. Social enterprises also have a double bottom line: social impact and financial viability. Furthermore, social entrepreneurs solve problems in pattern changing ways by merging mission and money.

Although not a new construct- social entrepreneurship has been around for over forty years-the business model driving the concept is still evolving. As a consequence of the evolving nature of social entrepreneurship, there is confusion regarding what it is and how it is different from a nonprofit organization or a traditional business.

Nonprofits came into existence because for-profits weren’t addressing social needs that our free market system was failing to adequately address such as pollution, poverty, and illiteracy. These organizations rely primarily on charitable contributions, public funding and foundation grants to support their programs and cover their administrative overhead. Nonprofits are often confused with social enterprises. Traditional nonprofits and citizen groups have been mainly distinguished by their benevolent intent. In contrast, social entrepreneurs stand out by their pragmatic emphasis on getting results. The results driving the social enterprise are achieved through the revenue model.

Over the years, nonprofits have increasingly been unable to achieve sustainability and achieve their intended purposes. Consequently social entrepreneurs have found opportunities to fill the void and create businesses that deliver products and services previously provided by nonprofit groups or government agencies and often in a more sustainable manner. The current recession has also contributed to the financial woes of nonprofits by reducing funding and by simultaneously increasing the societal need of their services. As a result, many nonprofits have seen financial pressures that have gradually eroded their reserves and forced them to seek new sources of revenue to finance their programs. While there remains a distrust of the profit motive and capital markets among most nonprofit leaders, some nonprofit groups have somewhat changed their perception of profit as seen in their attempts to enhance their sustainability by adding business activities to the traditional hodgepodge of volunteers, charitable donations, and government subsidies. A few have abandoned dependency on donors and government subsidies entirely, achieving self-sufficiency by focusing exclusively on earned income from their businesses.

There is also confusion about social enterprises by those who believe that there is no real difference between a social enterprise and a traditional business. Traditionally corporate philanthropy took a fairly thoughtless, perfunctory approach. Executives routinely gave corporate grants to their local nonprofits, to the cultural institutions on whose boards they sat, and to universities and other institutions. At some point, the more enlightened companies took care to align their business philanthropy with their strategic goals. Today most corporations recognize the value of participating in social causes that relate to their overall mission. Some corporations have even taken social responsibility to a new level. Companies such as Google, for example, have attempted to incorporate social causes into their missions. Google has created a charitable arm-Google.org-which has committed over 100 million dollars in grants and investments to advance social causes. Does this make Google a social enterprise? To the extent that Google.org is operated as a separate entity, a case could be made that Google.org is a social enterprise but the parent company-Google-is not.

Confusion in the news media regarding hybrid efforts such as Google’s are understandable but news articles or corporate promotion materials occasionally inaccurately state that a business behaving in a socially responsible manner is engaging in social entrepreneurship. However, with a traditional business the social cause is not the mission, the mission remains tied to generating wealth for shareholders. In contrast, social entrepreneurs confront the major unmet needs of society through the businesses themselves rather than grappling with them indirectly through socially responsible practices, such as corporate philanthropy, equitable wages and the use of environmentally friendly raw materials.

Traditional ways of doing business and operating nonprofits have in many ways been inadequate to meet the needs of society. To meet these growing societal and environmental needs and demands nonprofits and social enterprises will continue to evolve to better fulfill their missions. Traditional businesses also seem likely to increase their contributions to solving social and environmental problems. Social enterprises will also continue to influence and be influenced by trends affecting traditional businesses and nonprofits. Finally, due to the magnitude of social and environmental problems it is reasonable to expect a proliferation of social enterprises in the future.

Understanding the Often Surprising Scope of Social Entrepreneurship

The strengths and weaknesses of social entrepreneurship concept are completely based on the way we want to see it, since its applications receive little contributions from almost all the following sectors – public, private and non-profit. A hybrid commonly found in not for profit organizations that have an entrepreneurial wing, which aims to generate revenue to meet its social objectives. A hybrid model based on the for-profit private sector is seeing an emergence where businesses lend expertise and money to non-profits. This second hybrid model can be attributed as a result of public pressure, under which profit-making businesses display an act of social responsibility.

Strategic philanthropy has been recognized as the most desirable and realistic mode for any business to demonstrate its social responsibility. This approach directs the business to lend in areas that are directly linked, to the interests of the company. The fields of social entrepreneurship could also include spheres where the company could claim a direct stake in, while having its knowledge. The term is a clear indication of the financial returns promised by the philanthropic investment. The fact that traditional philanthropy lacks in providing a tangible return lends less rationality to it in making respectable business sense. The consideration of present day types of philanthropy in a refined way reveals that visionary and highly propelling business leaders could create new dimensions in community ventures by bringing the networks of organizations closer.

Similar to strategic philanthropy, social entrepreneurship is also a blend of two completely opposite concepts that even if they do not fit well together, are accepted as common sense. The fact that these concepts do not fit naturally that it is quite open to receive challenge and opposition. The challenges range over different renderings of the joining of the terms, which could also be in the form of denial of their use together. Language has played a crucial role in shifting the rationale of the associated concept. This could be attributed to the fact that acceptance of discourse precedes that of the material. Hence, there has been growth of terms that were earlier limited to the scope of business sector, like ‘social return on investment’, ‘social venture capital’, the use of the term ‘invest’ in place of ‘donate’, ‘client group’ and ‘revenue streams’ finding application in the social sectors. There is no doubt that with the advent of business language into the social sector, the existing barriers in social entrepreneurship will also start breaking down in due course of time.

Social Entrepreneurship – The Third Sector

Social entrepreneurship is a rapidly emerging field that has extended the concept of entrepreneurship by including the social dimensions of entrepreneurial ventures. In 2006 Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank of Bangladesh were awarded Nobel Prize for their extraordinary efforts to promote economic and social development in the present section of society. This event gave a tremendous momentum to social entrepreneurship. This was the initiation. Many more profit and non-profit enterprises have begun to identify them as a Social Entrepreneur. Ashoka.org , Skolls Foundation skollfoundation.org, Schwab Foundation schwabfound.org and Aravind Eye Hospital araving.org are the best examples of Social Entrepreneurs. I will suggest readers to go to the respective websites and read about these ventures to understand the concept of Social Entrepreneurship more clearly.

Social and Environmental problems such as environmental denudation, poverty and human rights violations have neither been addressed satisfactorily by the government nor has there been a substantial effort by the business community. If we observe the history, we see only non-governmental and non-profit organisations have taken interest in solving such problems. This sector has worked most of the time independently from any of the sectors. Social sector is more or less at its own.

Whether government supported or not, the social sector has grown substantially over the time. In US alone there are 1.5 million non-profit organisations with combined annual revenue of approximately US$ 700 billion (National Center for non-profit Boards, 2006). This is more than the gross domestic product of Brazil, Russia or Australia. Moreover the social sector controls over US$ 2 trillion in assets.

Despite its substantial economic importance, the social sector is not acknowledged as a sector in the traditional economies. The first country to acknowledge the economic and societal importance of the social sector by creating ‘Third Sector’ comprising of voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, charities, co-operatives and mutuals that share the common characteristic of being non-governmental and value driven and principally reinvesting any financial surplus to further social, environmental or cultural objectives. In 2006 British government created the ‘office of the third sector’. The British government is spending millions of pounds in the third sector. Recently President Obama has also created ‘the office of social innovation and civic participation with a Social innovation fund’ (The White House 2009) which intends to identify and replicate the high-impact, result-oriented social organisations that address the nations most challenging social problems.

In our country in my observations The Aravind Eye Hospital is the classic example for social entrepreneurship defining all the aspects of it. Founded in 1976 by Dr. G. Venkataswamy with the mission to eliminate needless blindness, Aravind is the largest and most productive eye care facility in the world. Taking its compassionate services to the doorstep of rural India, Aravind’s stunningly effective strategies vaulted barriers of distance, poverty and ignorance to create a self-sustaining system.

Social and environmental problems can be solved if Social Entrepreneurship is considered as the important sector. Technical and Entrepreneurial skills must be utilized in this sector. The Young Entrepreneurs should think differently and be prepared to take some orbit shifting challenge, as the saying goes ‘The starting point of a breakthrough innovation isn’t an idea but an orbit shifting challenge.’

Social Entrepreneurship, The Employment of the Future

Successful and notable social entrepreneurs have been referred to as business-social venture-ers, world changers through entrepreneurship, and social changers. Although not a new term to those who work and practice in the nonprofit field, social entrepreneurship is not a concept that is widely used among the mainstream. In fact, although the term seems understandable at face value, many people don’t know what it means, and they should. Aspiring entrepreneurs most often have no frame of reference or contact with these types of successful venture-ers and when attempting to start a social-based business, usually in the form of a charity or nonprofit, they neglect to incorporate business principles in their model and instead take the outdated, traditional profit-less charity approach.

The term ‘social entrepreneur’ has been in used since the mid 1900s and describes someone who uses business principles to accomplish some social purpose or impose some social change, rather domestic or abroad. According to the IRS.gov Master File, of the approximate 727,000 plus registered charities eligible to receive tax deductible gifts, the majority, approximately 55%, are reported as having earned $0 income for 2009. As evidenced by the sheer number of registered nonprofits, people have the desire to develop social enterprises. What they lack is the knowledge and financial capital to make them successful.

With the advent of unprecedented unemployment and worker dissatisfaction, social entrepreneurship as a home based business has the potential to be a viable employment alternative while simultaneously solving some of our biggest social problems. Although often associated with the term nonprofit, social entrepreneurs don’t have to be consumed with the hassles of corporate legal structures, reporting, and documentation. These businesses can operate as sole proprietorships and Limited Liability companies.

Social entrepreneurship is the model that existing and newly formed charities must use if they are going to survive. It requires a shifting in the way we have generally thought about charity delivery. In my work as a nonprofit business coach and trainer, this idea is a difficult one to accept. People instinctively want to give their services and products away for free, with no real plan for generating revenue. They think they’ll get grants and that these grants will finance their work. Nine times out of ten, this doesn’t happen.

The concept is dramatically different in terms of product and service delivery. Wherein charity work is often thought of as a lack, or absence of profit, social entrepreneurship merges the science of business entrepreneurship with the science of social change. This business model offers people the opportunity to earn a living, living one’s passion. More than likely developing such an enterprise or project requires starting from the ground up, or starting from scratch. There are numerous best-practices that entrepreneurs can use to build successful, profit generating social-based businesses. Here are a few:

1. Project revenues and expenses first; if a profit is unlikely, don’t bother or go back to the drawing board.
2. If a profit is likely, develop a full business plan with market research, SWOT analysis, and marketing plan.
3. If you decide to form as a 501 c 3 nonprofit, don’t include grant revenues in your projections until you’ve been in business for about two years.

So before deciding to launch as a nonprofit, explore a for-profit venture with a social twist. You may find this structure to be the best fit.

Chataun R. Denis is a professional Nonprofit Business Consultant, Trainer & Social Enterprise Business Owner. She is the Founder and Owner of Grant Source, a home-based consulting company that specializes in supporting start-up and established nonprofits through the provision of one-on-one business coaching, web-based and live trainings, grant writing consulting, and free web-based resources. Denis is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Business Administration, has a Master’s degree in Urban Planning, Design and Development with a concentration in urban nonprofit development, over 17 years of nonprofit administration, programming, and fund-raising experience, and a track record for helping grassroots nonprofits raise over $1.5 million. Grant Source clients have realized an average of 1,200% return on investment.

Four Easy Ways to Get Involved

Wow! What happened the last few months? Our country is in a whirlwind. The economy is deteriorating by the second. People are losing jobs. At the same time, we voted to elect the first African American president of the United States.

We are nervous about what is ahead of us but do not give up hope. We are in the midst of major change.

It is also a time of great interest and concern in the future of our country and world. The youth of America, who voted in record numbers, are taking an active role in the social issues of our times. Considering recent events, it is only appropriate to address a topic that will receive more attention in the near future.

Social Entrepreneurship and the School: Four Easy Ways to Get Involved. Know and understand this area of education because the times they are a changing. Get involved!

Social Entrepreneurship and the School: Four Easy Ways to Get Involved

#1: Understand social entrepreneurship. Do you know the definition of social entrepreneurship and the role of a social entrepreneur?

#2: Become friends with the social entrepreneurship world. Visit websites to hear about social issues, increase awareness, and connect with others.

#3: Learn about entrepreneurship programs for secondary students. Are you familiar with SAGE or BizWorld? Every day there are more educational programs for secondary students that are integrating the essential skills of social entrepreneurship.

#4: Model positive practices. Involve students of all ages. The green initiative is a good example. Climate changes, energy concerns, and environmental issues have encouraged schools to “go green.” Districts are modeling practices that increase student awareness. Classrooms are incorporating curriculum and activities and, in the process, creating future social entrepreneurs.

Social Entrepreneurship Development Program

Social entrepreneurship is becoming more popular these days. A lot of people are coming to realize that solving the world’s problems does not mean merely giving money or providing dole out assistance to needy folks. Instead, there is a better way. To facilitate this, however, the world also needs more social enterprises and these could be facilitated by a social entrepreneurship development program.

Understanding Social entrepreneurship. Any organization or foundation needs to understand what social entrepreneurship is all about. For one, it is about addressing social problems and issues. The entrepreneur identifies these problems and uses his imagination to come up with solutions to the problems. When the solutions are arrived at, he then looks at various ways to make the solution sustainable. That’s what a social enterprise is for. Any development program for this kind of entrepreneurship needs to include several things.

Creativity. It’s not only about thinking out of the box. The students of this program should learn how to use new lenses look at problems from different perspectives. This way, they can avoid the “tried and tested” formula of solving problems. If students would just allow their imagination to soar, there are a lot of solutions to the problems of the world. The challenge is to look at them in a different way until a solution is found.

Innovative problem solving. This is the natural outgrowth of creativity. Problems will not go away by themselves. They have to be identified and solved. Yet, the solutions should also be sustainable so that the solution will still stand even after several years.

Networking. Given the interconnectedness of the world today, it is impossible to miss out on the importance of connecting with other like-minded people. Networking is an essential component of entrepreneurship precisely because one person may not have the tools and the needed experience to implement everything. With a good network, an entrepreneur will be able to come up with resources and support group that will help him implement his vision.

Mobilizing people. This includes recruiting and motivating people to implement the entrepreneur’s vision. One of the biggest challenges of companies is looking for the right people. That’s why every entrepreneur needs to know how to recognize the right talents, as well as the right team for the tasks at hand.

Social entrepreneurship development program should be supported by government and the private sector so as to solve the pressing issues of the world such as poverty and illiteracy among others.