I start a conversation with a business man I recently co-presented with on a panel on Entrepreneurship “Pioneering or moving boundaries”. In my presentation, I explicitly stated that social entrepreneurship is not a non-profit model.. and yet, he begins our dialogue by making a distinction between his “For-profit” and my “Non-profit” business.
I am perplexed. What is the root of the assumption that many in the MENA region seem to have? A business can either exist to make profit, or offer social value! Not both.
If a business doesn’t offer social value; then what value does it offer? And if a business is offering social value, then shouldn’t it deserve to be rewarded for it?
By definition; social entrepreneurship is applying entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage ventures to achieve social change. We operate in a society that has its fair share of social challenges. It seems to me social entrepreneurship can serve to address these challenges. Shouldn’t we attempt to understand it? teach it? encourage it? and rewarded those who engage in it and bring social value, whilst making a reasonable profit?
Presented with two Ad agencies which would you choose and why?
One offers creative services in return for high profit margins; creativity is arrived at through brand building based on emotions such as desire to live luxuriously, to emulate aspirational figures; it replicates models successfully employed in other countries. It pays little attention to localizing the message, or investigating brand and messaging conflicts with local social values, norms and environmental challenges.
The other offers creative services, rooted in local culture aligned with social values for modest profits since the creative work here requires digging deeper to build a values-based brand. The later seeks to understand social norms, values, issues, and creates an association of a brand with a value, a social challenge, and identifies the way this brand is addressing the social challenge.