Social and business – the two worlds are still there. We need the big vision!

The two worlds are still there. Business thinks business and social is social. Simply said.
But what about the huge trend, this trendy movement becoming big and bigger which is called “Social entrepreneurship”? Yes, that’s interesting to both organization types. People like it. Just the idea to fulfill society’s needs and to combine it with a sustainable business model is great. A few people become social entrepreneurs by themselves and leave their jobs. I mean they identify a need in society, develop an idea on how to change and a business model to make it sustainable.

And the others? The people working in private firms and huge industries, NGOs , governmental institutions? What about the huge change inside these organizations?
Many employees, managers, social workers are enthusiastic about the concept and often interested to learn more, to talk about it and maybe to try out ‘a little bit’ – without taking any real risk for the existing organization or themselves , of course…
But here the problem starts. What does social entrepreneurship mean? A new wave of volunteering and doing good? Is it an additional way of how to earn some money and to be happy?
But if it is more in terms of how to make it happen on a large scale, how to bring social and business world really together to develop a new way of thinking and future biz models that makes a better world – so what?

Change? Yes, but with limited risks…
Both worlds, the social as well as the business sector have long traditions and established processes in educating people: with clearly shaped formats on how to act, to behave, how to talk, to do their work, whom to include in which parts, well, yes also to interact with the other world, also the social entrepreneurial world, but just in well defined areas. Minimizing any possible risks and avoiding ‘too much change’….

The disaster of communication-based misunderstanding
Additionally, different languages are spoken. It’s not about English, French or Chinese and German. It’s about business and social language.
It’s maybe just a specific wording, pronounced without any negative connotation, but often sufficient to enforce the border among the worlds.
Business people talk about success? They want to know how to measure the impact? Well, probably they talk about profit only, always money, money, money, maximizing the profit growth…
Social workers talk about success? The good example of how things developed over the last two years? Ten, twenty or also fifty people are engaged? Wow. Great stuff for a social startup. That’s really impressive, but what about scaling it up at a large scale, what about about KPIs and how to make it happen once donations and fundings will stop? Often they cannot show numbers neither, no convincing growth, sales and marketing strategy… Good people, without doubt. But the world is not based on doing good only. So, what kind of success is that if not based deeply on a ‘right’ business model? There are many bills to pay…

…and the two worlds continue doing their work separately…
People from different worlds like each other or not. That’s not the point. They even welcome each other. But just in certain areas – as mentioned above. Often there are fantastic projects already on how collaboration works, examples of co-creation. But project-based and for a certain period, of course. That’s what has happened always. On both sites.

The future?
The huge challenge is to find a way to bring both worlds really closer together, to do not just some well defined projects together, but to trust each other and to develop together long- term initiatives. It’s about developing a completely new world. That’s what should be the big vision.

What do you think?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Okay, let’s talk Social Business.
    I don’t know how much you know about Muhammad Yunnus, the founder of the Grameen Bank micro loan concept, in Bangladesh. His life has been devoted to alleviating the suffering of the poor in his home country, Bangladesh. A few years ago,2010?, he birthed a new business concept he called ‘Social Business’. He is educated as an economist, but thankfully, an empathetic one, thus looks at the world through those eyeglasses.

    Social Business, as I understand it, is the opportunity to create specific, marketable problem solving solutions which benefits Society in some way. Capitalization of the business, can be actualized through financial and expertise partnerships such as the partnership between Danone yogurt and Grameen Bank to bring fully nutritious yogurts to the poor in Bangladesh as a ‘for profit’ Social Business. All profits go to expand the business model to provide more yogurt to more communities through out the country. This is just one example of a Social Business which is already actualized. There are many other examples in health care, environmental regeneration, education, etc.

    When I first read of this business model in, Ending Global Poverty: Social Business, or some title similar to that. I was so excited about the possibilities. Every problem I saw confronting our current societal challenges had, in my imagination a Social Business, sustainable and life affirming solution. Please read the second book on the subject by Mr. Yunnus, to learn more.

    I am not certain but, I believe I agree with you regarding the standard practice of avoiding the ‘possible risks and ‘too much change’.

    Personally, I am pretty radical in my point of view, or ground of being, which ever way you see it and consider the time for ‘baby steps’ of progress no longer a viable option for our current human society. I will not list here the monumental challenges we face as a species of immense impacts… Considering the content of your post, you are obviously clear that we are facing substantial challenges.

    I believe though, at a fundamental level, that we today, have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to begin addressing our common challenges with creative collaborative solutions focused on, leaving a beautiful thriving planet and a healthy creative vibrant human society to our children and grand children.

    A better world is possible, it just doesn’t play as well to the crowd as hate, violence and sensation. That is our most pressing problem, creating the partnerships necessary to take the leap to Caring for Life, All Life……

    When I am feeling less then hopeful, I visit this page to see what these great partners are up to. Enthusiastic and visionary youth always gives me hope……

    I would suggest you visiting the RBE communities spread around the internet for some inspiration. There web site is , I hope that is the correct URL, if not just google them.

    One of the thousands of groups working to create a OSS blue print for a thriving, sustainable, caring Society….. I think you will really love it. Thank you for writing this blog, I am grateful that I happened to pick following you on the wordpress…. Blog following option.

    May joy and blessings come your way, mich


    1. Dear Sister,
      Thanks for all the input I met Mr Yunnus several times and I really appreciate what he does as I appreciate all those who help to make the change happen. Thanks for following my blog. This encourages me to continue. I will be back in India soon where we develop in collaboration with a NGO and local Social entrepreneurs a pilot project. I will keep you informed on learnings and experiences via some posts. Your feedback is always welcome.


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