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.