Michigan Women’s Foundation launches pitch competition for social entrepreneurs

The Michigan Women’s Foundation will soon initiate their signature pitch contest meant to corroborate aspiring women entrepreneurs in launching and scaling up social ventures within the region. Those wanting to participate have been urged to come up with conceptions that will cater to community concerns, based on a sustainable business model and a product/service that will amass an ample customer base. These need to be presented in a two-page paper which will also entail financial overviews. Professionals as well as successful entrepreneurs will form the judging panel to assess the applications and choose the finalists. Participants to partake in the finals will be granted study opportunities, mentorship, and technical assistance, to further fine-tune their proposals.

The initiative kick-starts on September 30th with a series of presentations from successful company owners. One of few scheduled to give talks is David Silver, owner of the Detroit Horse Power enterprise which tutors youngsters in urban areas on how to mend horses so that they can use the skill as an income generating activity.

Other highly acclaimed social ventures in the area include Detroit-based Rebel Nell, which empowers women who were initially homeless by showing them how to make jewelry from graffiti. Toms Shoes serves as another perfect case study, being a company that sells pricey designer shoes while disseminating a pair of durable shoes to the needy with the sale of every package.



Ways to Encourage Youths to Pursue Social Entrepreneurship

Instilling a social enterprise zeal to the youth is undoubtedly not a walk in the park. Distractions as well as other things eating up their time are some of the hurdles making the undertaking difficult. So how can young people be encouraged to join the domain?

Identifying areas of interest to get them involved

Unravelling subfields that resonate with the youth could prove to be an efficient strategy, especially if it’s something that will involve their peers. Additionally, setting up centers where they can be actively engaged in helping others is important, more so because they’ll be more empathetic and subsequently come up with tailored solutions for the beneficiaries.

Helping them embrace their passion for social good

It is salient to note that millennials are not only enterprise-minded, but they’re also enthusiastic with regard to giving back to the society. Assisting the youth in embracing this, particularly via tutorship, tech tools, and pro bono services, will act as a stepping stone for putting any conceptions they have in mind into effect.




Why you think empathy is important to becoming an effective social entrepreneur

As the website states empathy “plays a crucial role in innovation, change-making, and solving systematic problems.” In terms of innovation, I think empathy is important because without the ability to empathize with people’s need entrepreneurs cannot innovate products that are designed to raise the quality of living of people. Had Edison did not empathize with the people’s need to work at night; he would not have developed a light bulb. Similarly, had Henry Ford did not empathize with the people’s need to travel from one place to another quickly; he would not have developed an automobile. I strongly believe successful entrepreneurs always try to empathize with people to try and find innovations that will lead them a better life.

Also, for social entrepreneurs in particular, empathy is important in solving systematic problems. Because social entrepreneurs empathize with the need to make social changes, they innovate in order to tackle systematic societal problems. For instance, had Muhammad Yunus did not empathize with people living in poverty without any scollateral; he would not have pioneered microfinance, which is designed to bring people out of poverty trap.



HandUp, A Startup Combatting Homelessness, Is Setting An Example For The Tech Industry

In collaborative efforts with the Project Homeless Connect, Handup, a startup combating homelessness, has been overseeing outreach days in San Francisco, wherein government officials as well as employees from big corporations such as Dropbox have contributed. The signature event normally begins with participants being separated into groups of five people, after which they are assigned a community advocate to direct them into the city’s downtown areas where they can be of help to the homeless. Every partaker carries with him/her a hygiene package constituting shampoo, deodorant, soap, a toothpaste, a toothbrush, pairs of socks, plus a flyer showing where the subjects can get valuable services including Medi-Cal, dental and vision aid and employment assistance. Additionally, each volunteer is given 2 $25 Handup gift cards to distribute, and these serve as coupons by which the subjects can acquire food and other products at Project Homeless Connect. Handup has so far raised a six figure dollar sum in venture capital, and it intends to scale up to other cities in the US.




Key Concepts from Social Entrepreneurship in the Middle East

Old practice, new concept.

Social enterprise activities in the aforementioned region have their roots in the solidarity ideal, with most providing refuge to the underprivileged without government funding. Natives normally assist the poor via initiatives such as cooperatives and mutual insurance funds. However, many are not conversant with the conception “social entrepreneurship”. Further, coming up with a translation term that fits the local context has proven to be quite a challenge.

Variety of legal frameworks.

Social franchises in the Middle East do not have a legal structure to properly represent them in the marketplace. Most categorize themselves as constituents in the informal sector. The registered ones on the other hand take various forms including non-state organizations, private businesses, civil companies, or cooperatives. Others combine these aspects to accrue aggregate benefits from the distinct systems. For instance, a web based education social business in Egypt is listed as a non-profit to acquire donor funding and also a corporation to generate net earnings while avoiding state prosecution on tax evasion.

Social entrepreneurship develops in Karaganda

Radost, a charity shop in Karaganda, is currently serving as one of the best case studies of social enterprise projects in the nation. Owner Meruyert Argimbayeva launched the company approximately three years ago, and she has since served as the heart, soul and brain of the expedition.

Meruyert details that Radost has been amassing second hand items in good condition, distributing them for free to low income groups residing in the Karaganda region. But besides that model, the shop also seeks out novel products from boutiques closing shop or goods that do not fit their intended users; and these are sold at a relatively low price, in some cases three to four times lower than the market value. The retail business has been dealing in apparel, shoes, ornaments, souvenirs, toys, handmade items and bedding; with the cost of operation being deducted from the proceeds while the remaining net profit is funneled to cater for seriously ill children.

Argimbayeva points out even though charity shops came into being a few decades ago, she was amongst the first lot that introduced the conception in Kazakhstan. She opted for the venture after partaking in a novel social franchise program at the St. Petersburg School of Economics and Management while also educating herself with other relative sources.



Comparing Social Business and Traditional Business Model

I use the following factors to compare social business model to traditional business model to compare Ashoka and Google.

Google, as we all know is an American multinational, commercial firm that offers services that are designed to enhance productivity and work. Ashoka, on the other hand, is a social business. ‘The life purpose of the true social entrepreneur is to change the world.’ The founder of the groundbreaking organization called ‘Ashoka’ Bill Drayton once said. According to him, social entrepreneurs seek to tackle social problems to make a better world. This is the reason why he has named his groundbreaking organization as ‘Ashoka.’ It is driven from the exact name ‘Ashoka the great,’ who was the emperor of Maurya dynasty. Bill Drayton and Ashoka believe that the fact that Ashoka the great has changed his personality from merciless nature to an individual promoting peace is a framework for the motif of the organization.

Team vs. Individual

Social enterprises like Ashoka often embraces teamwork and collaboration as a key to its operational model. Ashoka believes that communication is a key to solving social problems. The firm also builds infrastructures that enable different individuals and organizations to communicate with each other. They want every and all social entrepreneurs to be informationalized about the current social issues as well as the method that others use to tackle these problems. To facilitate their ethos further, they help out and collaborate with social enterprises or organizations such as Youth Venture, Nutrients for All, Law for All and Full Economic Citizenship. In particular, youth venture shares similar aspects with Ashoka, as youth venture also seek to find young people who are eager for startups.

Since Google is a transnational firm, it often collaborates with many other firms in Silicon Valley and tries to foster the favorable business environment for employees by having regular discussion sessions. But unlike Ashoka, it does not have an explicit social program that is designed to facilitate teamwork amongst people who belong to different social sectors.


Business Objective and the Perceptions of Value

Ashoka is solely driven by social entrepreneurial motif. Ashoka’s main approach towards social change is by identifying key social entrepreneurs or potential social entrepreneurs and investing money to them. They describe these kinds of entrepreneurs as ‘changemakers’ and offer professional support to the changemakers they have identified. For instance, they offer a service called ‘Ashoka Fellows’, who works for the organization and provide ideas and initiatives to potential social entrepreneurs. Currently, more than 3000 social entrepreneurs have registered to Ashoka organization. The organization aims to enlarge this number so that they can ultimately meet its ethos as an organization that encourages every single individual to be a social entrepreneur.

Unlike Ashoka, Google’s main objective and value lie on profit maximizing. It offers goods and services that are designed to earn profits to expand their businesses. Its key value is innovation and expansion of business, all of which allows them to earn profits.

Distribution of Profits

Ashoka puts nearly all profits toward making a social impact, while still paying regular wages to its employees. On the other hand, the structure of commercial firms like Google is driven by various shareholders who has the proportion of the shares of the company. In the case of Google, 95% of the shares belong to other shareholders. Since shareholders invest their money to the Google, the bulk of Google’s profits goes toward making profits for shareholders. Moreover, Google uses its profit to expand its business and make further innovations, covering the cost of production.

Business Strategies

Ashoka utilizes business strategies that are heavily concerned with social entrepreneurialism. Mainly, social enterprises like Ashoka adopts two strategies: Social marketing, and socially responsible investing. Social marketing specifically targets individual for the provision of social goods in the society to the hilt, while socially responsible investing is a type of investment given to other social enterprises and social entrepreneurs who would strive to make different social impacts. As mentioned, Ashoka invests heavily in potential social entrepreneurs, who strive to make social impacts.

2 Ways Social Entrepreneurs Can Solve Their Talent Problem

Making talent a top strategic priority

Social entrepreneurs need to be spot on and ahead of time with regard to hiring concerns, in the same way they would when forecasting consumer trends. Most importantly, social enterprise owners need not assign a designated team to handle this matter, particularly because they are best suited to find persons committed to the organization’s mission and vision. Fred Swanisker, CEO of African Leadership Group, mentions that he has been dedicating quite a lot of time on hiring, asserting it is undoubtedly a key aspect that will guarantee the success of any social franchise.

Training employees to become leaders

A social business expedition should also serve as a talent development harbor to corroborate and retain talent within the firm. In other words, personnel should be facilitated with the necessary programs to make them viable candidates for senior positions. The approach will ensure future hiring headaches are negated.




Social Entrepreneur Spotlight: Joe Kelly and His Fireproof Mission

When brainstorming about the social issues affecting the entire globe, fire prevention is undoubtedly one of the most ignored concerns. It’s without doubt a dire scenario because in the US for instance, there are over one million fire related injuries with each passing year.

Joe Kelly is however addressing this issue through tutorship with the use of the Fire-ED Fully Involved Teaching Tool, an engaging methodology championing for best fire safety practices.

Joe mentions that the main inspiration behind his social mission is his three decade career in firefighting, where he’s witnessed the field’s major shortcomings including faulty smoke detectors resulting in dispatches, and non-interactive fire prevention courses. These are some of the hurdles that Joe is striving to eliminate.

He is currently advocating for the integration fire prevention education to school curriculums, to in turn ensure more lives are saved. With this take, pupils can serve as role models within communities to help recognize and negate risks of fire outbreaks in both the home and school setting.




US based social accelerator Unreasonable Institute to launch in Pakistan

The Pakistan Youth Activism Center and the Epiphany Private Limited will oversee a first-of-its-kind social accelerator course, in a collaborative partnership with U.S. based Unreasonable Institute. The initiative is expected to usher in a new path for comprehensive capacity building within Pakistan’s social startups. The five day program is meant to cater for initial phase Pakistan entrepreneurs who are channeling efforts on social and environmental issues. Taking place from August 22 to 26 in Islamabad, it will present time-tested information and networks salient for scaling up mission driven startups.

Epiphany Private Limited was launched in 2016 to provide advisory services to impactful expeditions and conceptions. It has been doing so by offering consultancy expertise in institutional development, advocating for dialogue and policy adherence, while also partaking in governance research to in turn enact governance reform. The Pakistan Youth Activism Center was on the other hand launched in 2015 to capacitate, link and engage youthful social enterprise proponents.