Friday, April 23, 2010

Week 10: Society's cycle: Choice or Natural Selection

After reading Amy's blog it got me on the same track to discuss, are some people naturally selected to live and adapt to harder ways of life or do they choose? It is a necessary question to ask because there are many social entrepreneurs to account for the many communities they assist. Whats the most common answers you hear when this question is asked? "Its no choice because of the societal structure some are bound to fail", or "some people aren't given a chance so they have to" or sometimes you hear "some people are predisposed to failure." So which is it, choice or natural selection? The answer is both, and here is why.

In nature, the strong survive and the weak die. Simple concept and short, but true. That also holds true in our society, the rich are considered the strong and the poor the weak but is this necessarily true, no its not. In the television show "American Gangster" it displays plenty of people who live and prosper under harsh and dangerous conditions, yet live well. Morally and legally the way they live is wrong but there are some that manage well over the median. My point is this, no matter what the living conditions are or your genetic make up is, if you do not have the will to choose to do better for yourself, then naturally you will be left behind while the strong continue to push forward.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Today Earth Day celebrated it's 40th birthday and I as well as Amy and other UNCG students were able to take part in the community activities in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. Earth Day was founded on April 22, 1970 by a Wisconsin Senator as a way to bring more awareness to the concerns of the Earth. Everyday people go about their daily lives and rarely give a second thought to the environment around them and how everything they do effects it. From the gas that we use to fuel our cars, to the type of materials that are used to package the food we eat and the things we use. I know I don't typically check out whether the things I buy are Earth friendly, but after today I think I may be a little more conscious and do more than just recycle. Supporting industries that are trying to preserve our planet is important and their efforts aren't just to help one but to help us all. I enjoyed the Earth Day events in our city. There was music, food, vendors, families, businesses who supported, and plenty of young volunteers who saw a cause worth being a part of and I'm glad to be counted in that number. You know an idea is big when the popular television channel Nickelodeon devotes the entire day to the promote of it, Earth Day is undoubtedly one of those big ideas and hopefully will stay just as big and become even bigger in years to come.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Week 13: Ideas For Guerilla Marketing

Something interesting our group has been turning over in our minds is the idea of doing a guerilla marketing campaign for The Barnabas Network. To review what this, it is a non conventional way of getting someone's name out there usually on a low budget. There were a few different methods of getting this done. We are just starting to sketch out ideas. Our first idea has been a very strange one. Because The Barnabas Network is involved in getting beds to children who are currently sleeping on the floor, we were thinking that some how getting a mattress to an area with heavy traffic and getting Lee to jump on the bed with a poster with brief information about The Barnabas Network. Barnabas is desperate to get their name out there- so while this idea is strange we are sure it would attract attention. Another idea I just thought of, which is much more simple is to get big bright posters.... 4 of them (because we have 4 group members) and to stand in that same heavy traffic area with posters that have different but connected messages. The first poster could say a shocking statistic: "An estimated 250,000 children in need sleep on the floor each night" The second could say: "Want to be a part of the solution?" The third poster would say: "The Barnabas Network will pick up your gently used furniture for FREE" And the final poster could say: "Call (336) 370-4002 for this FREE service!"
I believe this would shock the public and make them aware of a need and give them a way to respond!
When I first learned about guerilla marketing I was skeptical about how students could make an impact. I looked to examples like those in Time Square or on the internet for T-Mobile and it appears to be too big of a job, but I believe that we can do something interesting for The Barnabas Network!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Week 12: Practicum Hours with The Barnabas Network

This part of the semester, as we are not having class and everything is beginning to come to an end more quickly than most have anticipated, has been spent working with The Barnabas Network. This week, so far, Nickie Young and myself found some free time and spent this time passing out fliers to people in the community. These fliers had basic information about The Barnabas Network and talked about the service they provided to the community, that of picking up gently used furniture to be recycled into their furniture bank. Nickie and myself aimed our flier distribution through some of the most lucrative neighborhoods. As we were walking down one street we came across an older couple. Immediately they asked "OK-so what are you selling?" We were shocked by this, and they were even more shocked to learn we were actually offering a service to them.

It is amazing to think of the impact that many non profits would have if they had the resources to get their name out there a little more. As with many non-profits- The Barnabas Network- has had to concentrate on maintaining what they have instead of spending money on marketing or any expansion at all. This is where we come in. We are aiming to put fliers all over Greensboro. This is a large task. We have fliers which are catered toward hanging in a public place with tear off phone numbers, and then there are those for individuals and mailboxes. We are also asking churches to think about letting their congregations know about the non-profit. We asked for money if they had some to give or if they felt led, but also just prayer support, volunteers, and even just to keep them in mind when getting rid of their old furniture!

While our efforts seem small, I am hoping that our work will lead to a greater awareness in the community overall. Hopefully Barnabas will have to be turning away furniture because they have no where left to store it all!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Week 11: Earth Day and NC GreenPower

Hearing about earth day this week has reminded me of certain things we have discussed as a class during this semester. To go back to the beginning of the semester, we discussed going green as a smart economic choice. It viewed this transition as a smart choice, one that was aimed toward looking at the future for sustainability, as well as creating jobs for those many who are unemployed.
Next we talked about the environment in the context of having a triple bottom line, and how having this creates TRUE sustainability. It is hard to claim you are sustainable if you do nothing to reduce your carbon footprint. While it may be more economically beneficial in the short run to ignore these factors, in the long run it will come back to haunt you.
One such organization in North Carolina that works year round, but which is making a big statement on Earth Day (April 22) is NC Greenpower. They work to encourage the use and development of renewable resources and are involved in carbon emission offsetting. This group recognizes year round that it is important to watch the effect we have on the earth now, so that our children can have a pleasant world to live in. This is the mission that drives this social entrepreneur.

Tom's Shoes's Barefoot acroos the Nation

Tom's Shoes made a challenge this past Thrusday. They challenged people all over to go one day without shoes on hoping that suffering for a mere 24 hours the way some children suffer 24/7 would bring some to epiphanies and lead even more to doing something to help those in that situation. Right here in Greensboro, North Carolina at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, we as a campus accepted Tom's Shoes' challenge and on that Thursday students were urged to spend the day without the comfort of their flip flops or Sperry's and go all natural so to speak. While many people I talked to were ready and willing plenty other didn't see the point, and respectfully declined. But regardless of whether or not a student participated, the message Tom's Shoes has been working to spread went out and made people talk about the issues. Soon those who decided to literally walk one day in the life of a total stranger who's less fortunate found that it isn't so easy going place to place with nothing to protect your feet. Some only made it half a day, some only made it half way across campus before digging into their bags and pulling out a pair of shoes to put on. Undoubtedly when those students felt the pain and discomfort a few hours without shoes brought them their minds went to the millions of kids who do it daily and what they could do to help. Buying a pair of Tom's Shoes will help and students were also urged to go to Tom's website and purchase a pair of shoes which in turn would result in a pair of new shoes being given to one of those kids who never had shoes to call their own. I'm proud of my fellow students who showed through their conversation and participation of the event that regardless of whether or not we've ever met you, ever smiled with you, or cried with you; we care because we're all one family and have to take care of each other, even if it's just offering a pair of shoes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Supercool School's attempt to Revolutionize Education

I think it'd be a fair assessment to state that a large percentage of adults look back on their years in school with a cringe and undying distaste at school as a whole or certain subjects in particular. The typical brick and mortar scenario doesn't hold many fond memories in many people's mind whether it be as a result of the mind numbing memorization of those time tables, or the noun, verb, adjective confusion that boggled many a nine year old's mind. The orthodox mode of education has very rarely been challenged as the very best mode of educating students, until now. Supercool School's literally takes tradition educational techniques and turns them on their heads. Their goal is to "decentralize and democratize education the whole industry, by empowering everyone to create an online school with the simple click of a button." Simply spoken Supercool School challenges those who can and will to go to their website and as advertised, start a school of your own in 60 seconds. That's all it takes according to them to begin to revolutionize education not just for the United States but the world. According to Supercool School, you can have free classes or charge students who join your school but regardless you will become an powerful source of information and education that will be not just a cool, more interesting way to amass information but a new way of getting intelligence to people which it turn will have real life applications. Sounds easy huh? Maybe even too easy, but I think they've got a good idea. Sharing knowledge is essential and learning needs to go beyond the school bells initial start and stop. Learning never ceases and by revolutionizing Education that undoubtedly revolutionize many's ways of thinking and viewing the importance of education in their lives.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Week 10: Financial Documents and Social Entrepreneurs

Financial documents, such as Balance Sheets, Income statements, and cash flow are things that most business students are tired of hearing about. They are obvious subject matters when in a finance or accounting class, but they are also important for social entrepreneurs, whether for profit or non-profit.
This is because investors are necessary to help the business continue to function, especially for non-profits who do not get their money in traditional ways. An example of this is actually our non-profit project, The Barnabas Network. Investors need financial information because they relate to accountability, transparency, and they use these to make comparisons to other like organizations, etc. (James, 2010)
Social Entrepreneurs use these traditional financial documents, but refer to them in different ways. The Balance Sheet is known as the Statement of Financial Position. It assesses what the entrepreneurs' assets and liabilities are. It is a snap shot in time. The Income Statement is also known as Statement of Activities. It is called this because it reveals what each program is doing...what they are producing. The Statement of Cash Flows is king for entrepreneurs. It is the flow of money between the group and outside world. And finally, the 990 forms are the non-profit's tax forms. (James, 2010)
We have learned all of these things in class, and I am beginning to wonder what we will be able to derive from The Barnabas Network's statements. I have looked at their 990 form and they are very vague. Also, I am not sure how willing they will be to share their financial documents. It will be interesting to see what we will be able to get from them and just see from watching them operate.

Works Cited
James, C. (2010, March 29). Accounting and Financial Issues for Social Entrepreneurs. Greensboro, NC.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week 9: Beat the Streets

In our meeting with Erin, the director of Barnabas Network, she emphasized that having more corporate sponsors is vital for their existence. This is a great idea and can be done. Yes, obtaining a large sponsor in any venture is significant to the survival and sustainability of that business, but it is significant for that business to make sure they have be familiarized by a large part of the community. That's why beating the streets is an important part of what can make a small venture as large as it wants to be.

The problem I have seen is that no one is really as familiar with the company. There is not enough wide spread knowledge about Barnabas throughout the community that helps build a strong reputation for this venture. The first thing a small company would say when approached by a representative of the company is "who?", more less the response of a larger one. What larger companies want when associated themselves with another venture is good press. Offering advertisement for that company is good, but there is not enough advertisement for that company if you have not put enough advertisement into yourself. With this beating the street is essential. The main reason why is education. The more people that are educated on your venture, the more referrals, the more clients, the more good press. But you have to be able to sustain yourself somehow in the mean time, so to do that you have to market within the community. Getting as many people interested in what you do and getting as many smaller companies donating to your cause, makes you more attractive to larger sponsors.

Ready... Set... Go!

Never ones for waiting to the last minute, yesterday Amy and myself set out to begin our work for the Barnabas Network. We brainstormed and began to think of ways we could start to get the word out and hopefully raise interest as well. Our mission for this week was to hang up flyers on and around campus as various student housing apartments. Why student housing? Simple, I can begin to explain how many students are willing and ready to get rid of the furniture they purchased for their apartments when they leave during the summer or if they're just moving to a new location and want new things. Last year alone I remember walking by countless couches etc, that were sitting on the side of the road in near perfect condition outside of many student apartments. They were giving things away; out with the old. But as the old adage says, "one man's trash is another man's treasure". What those students want to get rid of this year will hopefully go to an organization such as the Barnabas Network. We put up as many flyers as we could. Covering sides of mailboxes and student bulletions inside of clubhouses. We stuck our flyer everywhere we could think of even the Bryan building and other building around campus, and even Starbucks locations around Greensboro Our first step was small but holds the potential to make an enormous impact. I'm looking forward to what's next and the possibilities that lie ahead.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Week 9: Meeting with the Barnabas Network

This week "Four-Titude" met with our non-profit organization that we have chosen to work with for our practicum hours. We met one time to find out what the needs were of this organization, and this time we talked more details because it is coming up quickly when we will have to start working hours to complete our final project.
The following were needs that Erin Stratford (the executive director) identified.
1)Connect with corportations (preferably furniture and mattress retailers) to either
a) sponsor barnabas financially
b) become a partner agency
c) support a family ( a referral cost is $25.00 a family)
d) or set up a "scholarship" program- $500.00 dollars provides 25 families with furniture for their homes

2) Set up consistent relationships with medium sized mattress companies to either help deliver used mattresses they are picking up from customers, to donate new mattresses (less likely), or to cut some sort of deal with them to help put children in a bed.
3) They need ideas to help communicate who they are to a wider audience
a) Guerrilla marketing of some kind
b) Talk with sign makers to see if they are willing to donate a truck sign
c) possibly talk to the wood working dept. of UNCG to see if they would make a sign for the Barnabas Network as a project- whether it be now or the immediate future
4) ask people to give (either a one time gift or consistently)$100.00 to give a new mattress to a child.

We have been overwhelmed with all of these possibilities. We hope to be able to get a relationship with a few places, such as Rooms to Go, in order to help this company. They are willing to put any company's name on many of their items, to show that they are fulfilling their CSR, but at the same time they are not willing to be "owned" by any one company.

Our group will strive to help this worthy organization with anything we can in the allotted time given to us. I can't wait to see what will happen!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Top Chef Guerilla Marketing Style

As a part of our second case study, we were asked to create a short marketing video using geuerilla marketing. Finding a way to effectively market a company that is literally on the other side of the country wasn't easy and it wasn't easy to find a way to illicit the attention of college students who were busy enjoying our new spring weather. We had to find a fool proof way of getting them to stop tanning, throwing frisbees, or just enjoying the sun; and come check out our marketing scheme. Lee with his bag of goodies (and all colleges students love free food and candy) approached each and every group of students out on the EUC lawn, donned in his chef's coat and basketball shorts. He told them there was a cooking show about to start and handed them all candy to entice them to come and check out the show. Needless to say, me following him with a camera and our table set up in the middle of the sidewalk with bowls and snacks all over it was enough to scratch at students' curiosity. Once we started our show, Lee went into work mode and shared with the crowd our objective and why were were having the cooking show. He then proceeded to engage people by blending different ingredients in a large bowl. Ingredients that are needed to create success in Rubicon's goals. Ingredients such as doctors, architects, marketing majors and business majors alike. Once all the "ingredients" were mixed there was no chance of failure. The crowd enjoyed the short demonstration and we effectively brought attention to a cause beyond us all. Top Chef has nothin' UNCG's own guerila marketing chef guru!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Week8: The Story of Stuff

One of the aspects of being sustainable is looking at the three aspects that feed off of one another. These are social, economic, and environmental factors. The video we viewed in class, and discussed for most of the class period was "The Story of Stuff" This talks about the life cycle of items, or "stuff" from its beginnings, which is from the earth, to its end...which is usually harmfully disposed of-therefore hurting the earth. Some interesting things I did not know about was that certain chemicals are so involved in our world that even mother's breast milk is contaminated. People mindlessly following what marketers tell them about needing new stuff, and throwing out the old, even when there is no real reason or need to. People tie their happiness to something created to keep you dissatisfied. This is a recipe for an unhappy life, and since this type of marketing has driven behavior, the overall happiness of our nation has steadily gone done. (Leonard)
There are different ways to approach these issues in a social entrepreneurial way. One would be to form a business that is interested in truly keeping people healthy, and toxin free (or as much as possible). There has to be a way to keep babies healthy through not introducing them to toxic breast milk. There are toxins in lipstick, deodorant, and many other things. One such venture could help raise awareness, get support and demand that the government pass laws to help this occur. This is how the social aspect would be addressed. They could sell "clean" products that were produced at the most base level in a natural way, this feeds the economic aspect. And it is clear how the environment would benefit from using cleaner items, which would eventually go back to the earth- keeping our earth and our bodies happy and healthy.
This video really made me think of the decisions I usually make without thinking in my day to day life. It is easy to really make a difference for yourself, others, and the planet as a whole if you simply think before you act, and decide to look at the big picture instead of what is simply right in front of you.

Works Cited

Leonard, A. (n.d.). The Story of Stuff. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from The Story of Stuff Project:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Week 7: Spring Break

No Blogging This Week

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

For Profit vs. Non Profit

Social entrepreneurs are typically associated with people who's only goal is to bring about a social change that will make the world a better place. They aren't seen as a group of people who have an economic angle attached to their ideas of a better humanity but that type of social entrepreneur is alive and well and on the rise. The for profit sector of social entrepreneurship has taken off recent and people are finding ways to promote their social causes while creating a profit for themselves. A lot of people are beginning to feel that those not for profit organizations are being left in the dust and forgotten because of the glitz and glamour of their for profit counterparts. For profit social ventures are fast becoming the face of social entrepreneurship. They generate more money and therefore have a larger platform to get their ideas out into the public. Their more known, are moving at fast rates that the not for profit and are able to fix their social issues a lot faster than the not for profit are.
I personally feel that regardless of whether or not the social entrepreneur is for or not for profit their goals are essentially the same. They want to create a sustaiable change in world that will better the lives of everyone on earth.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Week 6: Social Entrprenuers Motive, helping the people or themselves? (an independent thought)

The idea of a social entrepreneur is a thing of beauty. Here is a person who actually wants to help assist with a need of their own community. A person who wants to "clean up" or resurrect a community in ruin if you will. Someone who is will bring hope and help for the people of the community most in need. As a person in need this is beautiful and as a person who cares about the well-being of others this is great, but what about the self-indulged opportunist. This is my independent thought, what about the selfish who only see this as an opportunity to line their own pockets by creating an illusion of helping others.

We're not talking about the irresponsible, those who have good intentions and mishandle money. This is solely as a question about the people who would take a non-profit opportunity and turn it into a for-profit opportunity. How can we prevent it? How do you recognize it when it happens? How do you screen for it? Is this really a question? The answer to the last question is easy, yes! Not sure how to screen for it, recognize it, or prevent it but it does happen and it is a problem. My question and purpose for this blog is to ask, is our only answer adding another type of social entrepreneur to oversee the others to determine their authenticity. There are people in the world that do take the misfortunes of others to make an opportunity to line up themselves financially. There are church organizations that have been found in falsehoods, group home founders, ect, that have shown in our current history that the only people they want to help is themselves and yet there is no clear system in place to keep these people out of the loop.

If you ask yourselves any one question let it be this, what is the most effective way to delete untrue social entrepreneurs?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Week 6: Triple Bottom Line

Something interesting this week, while talking about the tripled bottom line, is the question of "why are more companies embracing this while it leads to bigger initial costs?" As discussed in class, this triple bottom line is made up of economic, environmental, and social causes. Unlike the traditional business approach of simply looking at the economic side of things, it strives to find the best balance of all three. One idea that I have heard throughout my time at UNCG is that these businesses are looking at all of these because it looks better for them as a company if they are seen to care about more than their own company. If they at least appear to care, consumers will be drawn to them and in the end it will have served to give them more business and more profits in the long run.
Others say that these people simply strive to have a triple bottom line because they sincerely care. I am sure that there is a wide spectrum of all of these people in the business world. One company that has such goals in their mission statement is Starbucks. They are by no means a social organization, but it can be argued that they are striving to have a triple bottom line.

"The following six guidelines will help us measure the appropriateness of our
(1) Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and
(2) Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.
(3) Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting
and fresh delivery of our coffee.
(4) Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time
(5) Contribute positively to our communities and our environment
(6) Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success" ("Starbucks corporation," 2010)

Within guideline number 5, there is obviously a social component to their goals, number 6 gives the obvious economic motivation, and less obviously in number 3 you can find the environmental motivation as well. Starbucks uses C.A.F.E. practices to help farmers in other countries, and they only partner with farmers who use a certain caliber of farming practices. I learned this because I work at Starbucks and have had this information constantly drilled into my memory. This is how Starbucks justifies charging between 11.05-13.00 dollars per pound of coffee. It takes money to do the right thing. This is an interesting dilemma. This is possibly why many companies have shied away from the triple bottom line int he past. Yet, because consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of their spending, they are becoming more willing to spend more to make a difference, and they are even DEMANDING companies to go green, etc.

I believe we will see an increase in this concept and thought process for years to come.

Hopefully it will be the norm in several years...and social entrepreneurs will be the ones to push this through to its completion through passion and innovation.


Starbucks Corporation. (2010). Retrieved from

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Week 5: Process of Social Entrepreneurship

When many people think of an entrepreneur they concentrate on the fact that they are innovative and full of ideas. Something that seems obvious, but surprisingly is not always, is that a big part of the process is turning these ideas into something that can work and is sustainable. This is the hard part...the part that separates those who are just dreamers, and those who are real entrepreneurs. These concepts are especially true for social entrepreneurs. According to Guclu, Dees, and Anderson in "The Process of Social Entrepreneurship: Creating Opportunities Worthy of Serious Pursuit", the initial flash of brilliance is only worth so much, but what is really important is getting that idea to the point of becoming an attractive opportunity. (2002, p. 1)

When thinking about The Barnabas Network it is clear that they have an idea, they have had a few ideas turn into attractive opportunities over the years, but as Erin Stratford said, they have been through major transitions over the past year because of a transition in leadership, but also due to the economy. This is where clearly redefining who they are and what their social impact theory is would be helpful (Guclu, Dees, Anderson, 2002, p. 7) They have recently taken some of their original ideas out of their services, so a re-vamp is needed here. Also, they have to make a business model which would allow for more cash flow to happen. Their dream so far is to get an inventory system, they just got a computer system. This is because they realize the importance of being able to track what they have and what they need. For now their inventory system is stickers and hand written codes. (Guclu et al., 2002, p.8)

It will definitely be very interesting, rewarding, and educational to work with this very great and ambitious organizations. They are interested in getting our ideas on how to look at things with a more business minded approach. I also cannot wait to learn all that I can from them.

Guclu, A. J., Dees, G., & Anderson, B.B. (2002). The Process of Social Entrepreneurship: Creating Opportunities Worthy of Serious Pursuit. Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, Retrieved from

Social Games Create Social Change

I can’t begin to talk about how many facebook Farmville and mafia wars invitations I’ve gotten since the emergency of these facebook games. It seems like everyone is playing one or both of these games every time they get on the social networking site. The maker of those games, Zynga, has found a way to take entertainment and turn it into profit for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. They have generated $1.5 million by selling limited edition virtual goods, all of which proceeds have gone to the UN World Food Program. It’s good to see traditional entrepreneurs using their tools and knowledge to create a good social impact. The merging of for-profit and not for profit business ideologies was one of the themes of our first case study and the endeavor that Zynga took is a prime example of how the two can co-exist and create substantial results for both sides of the aisle. For profit businesses are generally more known because their goal is to appeal to a person’s personal needs and desires. When they take their popularity and implore people to take an interest and help someone get what they need, the impact they can have can be extreme. Nancy Raman, the director of communications for the World Food Program said, “Through their donations, Zynga players are helping us to bring urgently needed food assistance to people who have been plunged into hunger by this devastating earthquake.” So contrary to what parents have been saying for years, video games and computer games do make a difference!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cell Phones the New Social Entrepreneur

I just bought a new cell phone. I upgraded my old Verizon LG EnV to a HTC droid. This phone does everything short of walking the dog and as soon as I got it I quickly threw my old dinosaur of a phone into a drawer in my room. That drawer serves as my own personal cell phone crypt. I still have the first cell phone I ever got when I was sixteen years olds followed by every new “got to have it” phone that came out as years passed. I never throw them away but they’re doing nothing more than taking up valuable space in my room and reminding me of how far technology has advanced in just a few years. Looking at the stack of old phones got me thinking, there has to be something I could do with these phone that’ll actually be worth doing. Then I stumbled upon gives you an escape to get those in the way old phones out of your way while simultaneously creating an opportunity for someone else in need. According to their site “When your old phone is received by the recycling center, it is given a value. We’ll use this value to purchase appropriate, usable cell phones for community health workers at the medical clinics. The average donated phone in the US will allow us to purchase 2-3 cell phones for clinics.” And it’s just as easy as that. When you visit you immediately see a donate button that will direction you step by step as to what you need to do. The old adage rings true with this organization’s spirit and unique take on social entrepreneurship: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Week 4: Teach a Man to Fish...Feed Him for a Lifetime

As our group has been meeting and narrowing down which social entrepreneur to work with, it has been tough because we are all on different pages for the most part about what would be interesting. Yet, on our last Tuesday morning we were lucky enough to stumble upon the website for "The Barnabas Network". This is an interesting group who works on making some of the less fortunate in our local community more self sufficient. They provide job training, they pick up and donate gently used furniture, they offer encouragement to these people, and so much more.
Growing up I always went to a place, such as a soup kitchen or homeless shelter and always had the mind set of just easing the people's immediate need, whether this be a plate of food or a place to sleep. Yet the interesting thing about this place, and so many other social organizations we are learning about, is that they really emphasize bringing the people some permanent change. Meeting immediate needs is usually the most obvious and most of the time the easiest. Yet the saying "Catch a man a fish-feed him for a day, Teach the man to fish-feed him for a life time" comes to mind when I learn about places like The Barnabas Network. I am glad to see that they have this idea, because this is what needs to happen in order to start working seriously on the millennium goal of poverty, not only in places like Africa-but in our own backyard as well.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Win One Give One Campaign- Kids making an Impact

As a kid I can remember tearing open my cereal box, bypassing the cereal and digging straight to the bottom for the little prize that was promised me in bold colorful letters on the outside of the box. Sure the cereal was good, but what I was really interested in was that cool gadget I was going to get for free. For years American companies have used incentives to help sell their products to children. That desire to win is only fuel for kids who will undoubtedly bug their parents until they win something, anything!
Betty Crocker has created a twist on this old but invaluable marketing tactic and extended its reach even further. Right now Betty Crocker is partnering with One Laptop Per Child a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide internet-connected laptops to kids in developing countries; especially those in Africa. The powers that be at Betty Crocker have found a way to mix traditional entrepreneurship with social entrepreneurship in a way never done before and they’re using as their driving consumer kids whose only income is probably their weekly allowance! How can they be success if they depend on this sector of the market to push their cause? Easy; on the box of popular Betty Crocker fruit snacks, such as Fruit Roll-ups and Fruit Gushers there is a free laptop giveaway. Just by buying a box of one of their fruit snacks kids could possibly win a new computer. As if that weren’t good enough, for every laptop that is won, Betty Crocker in conjunction with OLPC will give one away to a child in need. Betty Crocker has created a win-win situation for themselves and their consumers and possibly broadened their market with the hopes of a new computer. Their eye catching commercials to promote this social endeavor surely don’t hurt either.
These laptops will not only globalize these kids but also serve as an educational outlet. Different subjects like math and physics as well as other learning tools are already programmed on to the laptop allowing these kids the opportunity to get an education they otherwise would be denied because of the dire conditions that ravage their home country. Betty Crocker’s social entrepreneurship is helping to create educational equality around the world; a problem kids here probably aren’t extensively aware of. But by the end of this campaign kids here will know they too can change the world one Fruit Roll-Up at a time. Even if these kids don’t win a new laptop they can simply go to and join the “drum circle” where for every 240 kids who join a laptop will also be given away to a child in need.



Week Three: Thoughts on the Millennium Goals

This week the class really concentrated on different issues that are considered the biggest eight that almost all of social entrepreneurs concentrate on. Through class discussion and simply listening to the lecture, it was interesting to find out that all of these issues are not interdependent. One cannot see the broad issue of "AIDS" and see this as the only issue. For example, in many places in Africa AIDS are so common and are everywhere because of the fact that there is extreme poverty. This poverty hinders big nation wide messages from being able to spread because there are not televisions in every home, not even power for that matter. The governments have to worry more about how to get the people the basic needs, so things like condom education and safe sex information is on the back burner. Thinking about this makes me realize that, as with most situations like this, the problem is circular. Poverty is contributed to by these people who are getting sick, not being able to work, which is draining some of the health care systems money-money is going out to these people who did not have to get into this situation in the first place. I can definitely see how a social entrepreneur would be needed here. There needs to be someone to look at this situation and see it from a different angle. There needs to be people who see this as an opportunity, not an impossible situation. It brings me back to one of my classmate's comments about how these things need to be addressed in a grassroots manner. This is the idea that big issues have to be encountered from the ground up, not from the top to the bottom. The concepts which generate change cannot just be demanded by a government, but have to take place in a daily form to change the way the community feels. I really found this week to be enlightening.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

We Are the World- Singing Social Change

25 years ago Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote a song of unity that served as an extended hand of brotherhood from the richest nation on Earth to the poorest nations of Africa. The song “We Are the World” brought together musicians from every genre and background. From Kenny Rogers, to Smokey Robinson, from Hall and Oates to Tina Turner, to Stevie Wonder; anybody who was somebody showed up to lend a helping hand to a cause they knew was bigger than themselves. Answering that call is the essence of social entrepreneurship and these singers showed 25 years ago that even they could be social entrepreneurs by using their talents to better the lives of someone else. Because of their unselfishness and willingness to put their own personal gain aside they were able to raise over $30 million that went to support the advancement of the people in Africa. In light of the catastrophe that has struck the small island nation of Haiti, that same spirit of unity that was evoked 25 years ago by that day’s top artists is being called upon again today. From Janet Jackson, to The Jonas Brothers, to Celine Dion, to Kanye West; today’s pop, rock, rap, and R&B stars responding to the call to action and are re-recording the classic song to provide a help to those devastated by the earthquake in Haiti. Social entrepreneurship isn’t always about thinking of new solar panels that will create a more efficient source of energy, or building the next big hybrid car that diminishes our dependency on oil; sometimes it’s simply singing a song of hope, of help, of love that will impact millions of lives in ways many of us can’t begin to imagine.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Week 2: Class Discussion-Society's vicious cycle.

This past week I was forced to really stop and think to myself about the implications of the patterns in society. Often times, people can look at students who are subject to growing up in a rough area, with schools that are not the greatest. Someone on the outside, one who has not tried to walk in another's shoes, can wonder "why don't these people just DO something to change their lives? Why don't they simply try harder in school like my children do?". Yet, it takes the mind of someone objective-who humbly approaches the situation, realizing they know little about the situation, to realize the cycle these individuals may be caught in.
Sometimes being less fortunate can land a family in a less than favorable neighborhood. This causes the student to go to a school that possibly does not have enough funding or the best teachers. The school does not have this funding because of the quality of teaching, and possibly the atmosphere. It is not ALL the teachers and school systems' faults-but it does play a part. Because the students and these schools are not set up to win, they do not...creating the cycle of lower expectations and less funding.
It takes someone, such as a social entrepreneur, to come into a situation like this and see it from another see this as an opportunity to change a cycle...instead of a hopeless situation. All of this was inspired by our classroom discussion surrounding school systems, Steven Burbage's thoughts on the effects of "bad" teachers. It has been inspiring to see trials through the eyes of the entrepreneurs in the books, realizing it really does take an "unreasonable" person to change the world, someone who sees the world in a completely different way.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The World's Best Shoes

If you were to go to the average American’s home and open up their closet you’d more than likely find countless shoe boxes. Reebok’s and Nike that supposedly make you jump like Jordan or run like an Olympic sprinter, casual boat shoes for those who don’t even own boats, four inch heels, over priced flip flops, boots for the snow, rain, and even boots that serve no real weather purpose but just look good on your feet. And of all those shoes that claim a large territory in most people’s closets there are probably two or three pair that are worn consistently. Most of us will buy a pair of shoes and take into account three things; the look, the comfort, and the price; and probably in that order. It’s wasteful, it’s indulgent in one’s own superficiality; it’s shameful. A week ago I may not have thought about my shoes so thoroughly but once I learned of Tom’s shoes and their movement to change the world one pair of shoes at a time I couldn’t help but examine myself and help make a change that starts with me.

Tom’s shoes was founded in 2006 when an American travelling to Argentina observed the plight of the local children who would walk long distances and go about their everyday working to help provide for their families without a pair of shoes on their feet. Their feet were tattered by the elements, blistered, bloody, and infected or at the very least at a high risk for infection. It’s easy to turn a blind eye when the problems of the world aren’t literally staring you in your face; but when you see it right outside your front door you can no longer pretend that these people aren’t alone; and need help and that’s what this American (whose name is Blake Mycoskie) did. He made a commitment to himself and those in need to create a cost efficient shoe that for every pair of shoes he sold, he’d give a pair away to a child in Argentina. Blake Mycoskie became a social entrepreneur overnight because he like all of us had a responsibility to make a difference when we can.

The average America will probably continue to buy shoes that will see the inside of its box more than the ground outside. We are a very fortunate and blessed country, but it doesn’t mean in our fortune we can turn a blind eye to the rest of the world who we’re connected to. There are billions of people out there who can’t imagine what it’s like to have 1 good pair of shoes let alone dozens as many of us have. I think I’ll buy a pair of tom’s shoes. They’re cute, look pretty comfortable, and are reasonably priced and even if I never take them out of the box and they become another resident in my graveyard of new shoes hardly worn, at least I’ll know some kid who really needs it will benefit from my indulgent superficiality and appreciate what I too often don’t. If you’re interested in being a part of Tom’s vision and would like to buy a pair of shoes, or help start a moment in your community visit and help made a difference.