Andrew Youn is a founder of the One Acre Fund, a social enterprise that provides necessary equipment and skills that are necessary for farmers to farm their land. He embodies many of the social entrepreneurial traits. Most importantly, he is innovative. While many previous attempts directed at solving poverty were largely done through unilateral donation, Andrew seeks to do this by providing necessary equipment and skills because he believes that there are already enough food in the world –it is just a matter of distributing the surfeit of food to everyone around the world. Moreover, his businesses are entirely socially driven, since he aims to help poor African farmers. He is also willing for other enterprises to replicate his model of educating and distributing equipment to farmers –not just a mere one time donation. Furthermore, he has an explicit aim. He aims to tackle poverty not just in the short-run but in the long-run, by enabling all African farmers to be able to produce agricultural products by themselves. He wants the farmers receiving their help to be self-sufficient in the long run, so that they can focus on another farmers. Finally, Andrew Youn displayed a dogged determination despite the risks he faced. He first decided to establish Acre Fund when he first visited Kenya in 2006. At first, he himself did not have enough capital and knowledge to establish the business. But since then, Youn raised donation from various other non-profit and charity organizations by explaining what he aims to achieve. He also experienced the vicious cycle of poverty himself to better understand the dire circumstances of poor Kenyan farmers by actually living in their houses and asking them lots of questions. These social entrepreneurial traits –persistence, explicit social aim, innovation- allowed him to establish One Acre Fund ten years later his first visit in Kenya. Now, the organization serves more than 400,000 families. I believe that the idea of distributing necessary equipment and skills instead of one time donation is novel and innovative. But I also believe that there is also a room for development to his businesses. He could expand his businesses by utilizing new social mechanisms like microfinance and crowd-funding to meet the needs of more farmers in Africa.
In a modern world, many social enterprises revolutionized their operational model, incorporating technologies at the core of their model, in contrast to traditional models dominated by micro financing and labor-intensive models. The key reason is because using technologies can deal with more social issues at the same time, thanks to its efficiencies and worldwide accessibility. Thus, social enterprises that have embraced technologies actually seek to serve many social problems whereas most social enterprises have one major aim. For example, Benetech uses technology to meet various social goals in the field of politics, education, and the environment. The feasibility of these technologies assessed in the Benetech Lab. In politics, the company uses software called the Human Rights Program to provide human right defenders with adequate resources. The Global Literacy software provides illiterate students worldwide with educational opportunities. In the field of environment, the Environment Program software provides conservationists and environmentalists worldwide with enough tools and resources to plan their initiatives. The success of Benetech -Empowering a half million people with disabilities to read and access information, delivered over 10,000,000 accessible ebooks, enabling thousands of human rights defenders in over 50 countries, enhancing conservation data and project management to protect habitats in more than- can be traced mainly to the use of technology. Because the software developed by the Benetech can deliver services to worldwide at anytime since it does not require transportation of labor services, it can meet wider social objectives.
Grameen’s success is particularly astonishing when one considers the context of banking and lending in Bangladesh. Traditionally, banks in Bangladesh lend only to wealthy families and businesses, because only these groups have collateral. Ironically, these banks have recovery rates that range from 45 to 50 percent. In fact, the majority of traditional banks in Bangladesh survives only by virtue of the fact that they are owned by the Bangladeshi government and are the recipients of substantial subsidies from it. Not only has Grameen outperformed traditional banks, it has done so while lending to the very poor, in a country in which the poor have traditionally been overlooked and neglected.
Grameen has reaped these successes thanks to its emphasis on social development, making its exchanges beneficial for the recipients of loans as well as the bank. Yunus has explained that he does not believe charity is the answer to poverty. Charity, Yunus explained, furthers poverty by creating dependency. After all, to attempt to solve poverty by giving money and other resources to the poor without equipping them with the ability to earn for themselves is to make them dependent upon said charity. In addition to relegating the poor to a position of dependency upon others for a better quality of life, Yunus has explained he believes charity takes away from their ability to take the initiative to break through poverty on their own. Yunus believes that the creative application of energy is the way out of poverty. He has also stated that “the myth that credit is the privilege of a few fortunate people needs to be exploded.”
Annie Ryu is a social entrepreneur whose expedition is based on the jackfruit, an enormous, green, studded fruit that grows in Southeast Asia. With the current global warming concerns, the fruit’s nutritional attributes could deem it as a viable/sustainable option to imperiled food crops such as wheat while also serving as a meat substitute. Ryu asserts that the latter take could actually go a long way in dealing with multiple global concerns, more so because the fruit is nutritious, satisfactory, and abundantly grows without agricultural inputs.
Ryu mentions she initially developed a zeal to address issues plaguing mankind after coming to terms with statistics on millions of dispatches being caused by curable conditions. Her first social enterprise project was an SMS service disseminating salient maternal health info to expectant and new mothers in Nicaragua. In an attempt to scale up the expedition, she travelled to India and uncovered the multi-faceted jackfruit, which was later dubbed as the “pulled pork for vegetarians” by the Guardian. She launched her franchise viewing the discovery as an opportunity, with the aim of enacting a sustainable supply chain. She currently collaborates with more than three hundred farmers while supplying the product to around two thousand retailers.
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.
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.
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.
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.