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PC: Economic Forum
PC: Economic Forum

Top Five Social Entrepreneurial Ideas: Business comes first

Based on Economic Forum

We all have once a dream to change the world what we don’t like around us, but a limited number of people among us are able to really ‘start’ not just romanticizing with the ideas. Many great ideas die in wishful thinking and mostly because we don’t know where to start. However, recent years have seen a surge in innovative social entrepreneurial ideas shaping and the coming years especially 2016 – probably a year of fusion of technology in uplifting of people at the marginal level. Most important aspect of any entrepreneurial adventure is its own survival – the social changers who want to bring change through technology needs to find out a business model (revenue generation idea) first than anything else.

Here is a list of five such entrepreneurial ideas culminated into business models that make a sense of social purpose in doing what they want to do with a sound plan of its own survival. However, it’s not an exclusive list.

  1. Poverty Spotlight: Martin Burt

Martin Burt has decades of experience in building tools and applications focused on social entrepreneurship and he rightly observes that era of lone social entrepreneur is over. The Poverty Spotlight is a diagnostic tool that enables the people to measure their level of poverty and create an action plan to overcome it. A number of companies are using this application to eliminate poverty among their workforce.

Now businesses feel a responsibility towards society more than ever. They are talking with governments to provide basic facilities and social entrepreneurs have a major role to play between the government and business.

His advice: Leverage partnerships for scale.

  1. Hapinoy: Mark Ruiz and Bam Aquino

Hapinoy is a social enterprise that helps micro entrepreneurs access to value-added inputs such as capital microfinance/training/capacity-building, and new business opportunities.

Why can Coke products find their way to every rural village, but medicines and financial services do not?

Rather than starting a new distribution system to make available necessary products at the rural level, they decided to use existing infrastructure – tiny “hole in the wall” stores called sari-sari shops – by formalizing them into a network, thereby creating a channel to get much-needed services such as mobile banking into rural communities.

Their three success mantras can be summed up as: never lose sight of the social mission; find investors who share similar values; partnership with big corporations.

His advice: Combine focus with flexibility.

  1. D-Rev: Krista Donaldson  light: Ned Tozun

D-Rev is a non-profit social enterprise that designs and develops medical devices for poor people such as prosthetic knees for amputees and phototherapy units to treat jaundiced babies. d.light is for-profit social enterprise which have distributed more than 50 million solar lights and power solution to homes not connected to electricity.

Both enterprises have one thing in common – their world famous design. But both entrepreneurs Krista and Ned says even if you have a great product to sell and don’t have efficient distribution system, you may end up losing your business.

Marketing, branding and distribution require more innovation than on the product side, they further argue.

Their Advice: Design is important, distribution is the key.

  1. Bridge International Academics: Shannon May and Jay Kimmelman

Bridge International Academics was founded in 2008 by anthropologist Dr. Shannon and tech entrepreneur Mr. Jay – with a goal to provide world class education in Kenya to families living just under $2 per day. In just seven years, they have opened 400 schools serving 1,20,000 students and their aim is to reach 10 million in near future.

What they did? They used technology in every sphere – processing school fees, assessing student performances, distributing daily lesson plans to 5000 teachers and in and out time of school teachers.

Mark Zukerberg was so impressed with their idea that he made an investment of $10 million after the meeting in Davos.

Their Advice: Use technology everywhere you can.

  1. Friends International: Sebastien Marot

He founded the Friends-International with an aim to rebuild the futures of the homeless and marginalized children. He did it simply by converting all their vocational programs into a social business which now contributes 40% of the organization’s operating budget.

His organization currently reaches merely 50000 in eight countries in comparison with half a billion marginalized children around the world. He rather than expanding his organization is focusing on market-based approach through the CYTI Alliance – a network of 50 organizations working with homeless and marginalized children in 11 countries.

His Advice: Scale your solution, not organization.


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