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Give a Little, Learn a Lot

by on February 25, 2010

Many of you may have noticed the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition advertisements and announcements going out these days. It is such an incredible program, not only because it encourages international collaborative innovation, but because it is focusing on what some see as the next phase in the evolution of social practice. The entire goal is to facilitate the generation of ideas regarding how sound business models and ideas can both succeed and reduce poverty in the developing-industrial world.

It is important because we can no longer continue to separate social good from “business”. The private sector can learn from the often sustainability-oriented nonprofits, and nonprofits can adapt durable business principles to strengthen the work they do. Of course, there are many reasons why change like this is difficult (the politics, the social norms, the lack of motivation) but clever organizations are looking across sector, national, and cultural “borders” and beginning to see how everyone might benefit from each other.

So check out the GSEC, and see if you can make it for an event. They should have some really interesting things to propose. Give a little of your time (precious, I know) and receive some learning if you’re willing.

The team I am an Ambassador for is ToucHb: Their innovation is “A prick-less anemia scanner used by low-skilled village health workers in India that measures, helps diagnose, monitors and screens for anemia.”
Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, Nashik, Maharashtra, India.


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2 Comments
  1. deeptishah permalink

    Thanks for sharing this Emily.
    Glad to know that you are participating for such a critical cause.I am exactly from the place your team TouchHB is working for.

    Nice to see that GSCE touches several problems at locations around the globe from affordable, nutritious meals for slum dwellers in Mumbai, to mobile wind turbines in Kazakhstan, to solar oven-powered water purification systems in Tanzania.

    That is a lot.

    Will definitely go through this and see if there is anything of my interest.

  2. Emily,

    GSEC sounds pretty remarkable, and I’m glad you’ve spent as much time as you have drawing attention to it! Thanks for your effort.

    GSEC concerns itself with a number of issues I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on — questions I think about a great deal myself. For instance:

    1. Is social enterprise the intersection of for- and non-profit business? That is, is there a Venn diagram by which social enterprise can be seen as the natural hybrid of both worlds? Or is SE its own creature?

    2. “Robust” and “sustainable” are wonderful terms; what on Earth do they *mean*? Are we stuck with the Casablanca definition — “I’ll know it when I see it?” Or do you have any thoughts on how me might develop metrics for these things?

    3. Must every enterprise eventually be social? If now, how is a “standard” business to evaluate their impact. Put a different way; if we view social enterprise as “a nonprofit that actually makes money and is competitive,” what’s the flip side for a traditional business?

    Thoughts?

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