Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Virtuous Circle of Social Capital / creation / web 2.0

The social entrepreneur's efforts to build and mobilise a networks supportive of his or her favoured social / humanitarian objective typically converts relatively few to act on behalf of any cause for which they were already acting, and this weak support from the social entrepreneur's network is, according to Joel Podolny, a significant obstacle to positive change.

There must be relatively few social entrepreneurs who've not experienced a feeling of despondence after being let down by those they believed they could count on. It would be easy, but misguided, for social entrepreneurs either to despise the members of their networks, or to lose confidence in the viability of their enterprise. Strong support for social entrepreneurship from networks absent a strong focus on values and sense of community is rare. It is not to be expected.

Podonly suggests that social entrepreneurs think of networks not as 'conduits or pipes for information and resources.' Although networks are indeed conduits, such a view, he states, is unhelpful and incomplete 'in explaining the role that networks play in social change.'

It is only when a network impacts individual identity that it becomes a force for change. Hence, Podolny's conclusion that, 'The creation of the community needs to be the first and foremost priority of the social entrepreneur interested in social change.' This advice I believe cannot be overemphasised.

If it seems as though I am harping on this point, that's because I am. Bootstrapping social entrepreneurs who try to build without the support of a strong network community have relatively little hope of success. However, experience and research indicate that social entrepreneurs who work at creating a value based network community as an end in itself have much brighter prospects.

In a previous post on creating social capital, the Raising More Money mission centered 4 step model was introduced. If you have not yet been to the RRM site, I urge you to go there and acquaint yourself with the mission centered model now (

I'd also suggest that you visit the archives at the RMM and read the series of features filed under the heading Point of Entry ( The insights offered are sound, and will, if embraced, help you create a strong and supportive network.

Building a value based network, if you follow the lead of competent advisors, need not be an unpleasant experience. However, such building does require organisation, discipline and effort. And, in my experience, no amount of discipline and effort can compensate for poor organisation. The good news is that web 2.0 movement pioneers have developed a number of FREE tools that make the task of organising and building network communities far easier today than it has been (even 6 months ago).

It would be difficult to review every web 2.0 tool that a social entrepreneur might find useful. In this entry, I will cover 5 tools that I think have great potential to help bootstrapping social entrepreneurs organise their efforts to create strong network communities. I will review other tools on another occasion. (If any of you know of other useful tools, please append a comment to this post.)

Now my five recommendations:

1. Voo2do. Voo2do ( is a free project and task management tool. There are innumerable tasks involved in building a successful network community. If you find it difficult to design and execute detailed plans (I do) Voo2do is for you.

The influential Lifehacker blog writes of Voo2do:

Voo2do is great for those who are looking for a 'medium sized' online solution that does a bit more than simply list and tick to-dos. The estimating feature is nice and the interface is clean and fairly intuitive. Oh, and at a price of zero dollars and zero cents, it's gotta be worth seeing if it fits into your system.

Over the years I've tried a number of project management systems. As a rule, I have found these systems overly complex and difficult to maintain. Voo2do is an exception to the rule. It is user friendly, and yet powerful. Its only serious shortcoming is that it doesn't have an open (public) feature, but this flaw is overcome by the next web 2.0 tool on my list:

2. Tilika. Tilika ( is a combination calendar (public and private), contact manager, todo list manager, referral agent and network management tool. I must admit this has been a close call. Two other calendars deserve honourable mention. They are: and

If I were recommending a plain vanilla personal organiser, I'd recommend either Planzo or Mypimp over Tilika, but when it comes to network and community building applications, I'd say Tilika is (currently) the best tool. Its user interface is clunky compared to both Planzo and Mypimp, but neither come close to Tilika as a contact and group management tool. And, Tilika is an excellent compliment to Voo2do.

Tilika comments:

Tilika allows you to create a online calendar that you can use to manage your busy life. Additionally, you can create events on your calendar (Birthday parties, Get-togethers, Reunions) and invite everyone by email and keep track of who is coming. You can choose to share your calendar with friends so that they can see what times work for you, or if you wish, make it public so everyone can view it and request appointments on it. Public calendars are most useful for people in the service industry - doctors, tax consultants, professional photographers and hairdressers, etc. [and social entrepreneurs]

Tilika also aims to make it easy for you to build an extended list of friends that you can reach out to f or referrals. Whether we are looking for a recommendation for a doctor, an insurance agent, a realtor or a contact inside a company, we often turn to our friends. While we might not know the right person for a particular purpose, we very likely know someone who does. Equally, we often know just the right person that someone else is looking for.

And when inviting guest to a networking event, Tilika offers the following powerful feature:

Once you add your invites, they get notified by email about your event.
If any of the invitees happens to be a member, then this event shows up on that person's calendar.

In either case they have the option to indicate either a Yes, No or a Maybe as well as optionally leave an explanatory comment all of which are visible to you immediately on your calendar.

Your calendar is accessible to you from anywhere that you can connect to the interet, it's that simple!

And it really is that simple!

3. Blink. Blink ( is a social tagging system. At first glance the relevance of such a tool may seem obscure, but Blink is nonetheless relevant. Blink, and other social tagging systems (e.g., offer the social entrepreneur an opportunity: to display their expertise; to make contact with others who share similar interests; to make use of others'expertise; to promote their activities; to back their favourites list up (on the web); and to retrieve their favourites on any computer linked to the web.

A member of the Blink team describes Blink as a "Personal Discovery Engine." It is that and much more.

4. Linkedin. Linkedin ( makes it possible for social entrepreneurs to put their profiles in front of thousands of people who may have an interest in their project, and to discover valuable but hidden links within their existing networks. The Times (UK) says of Linkedin:

FORGET those stiff business dinners, tiresome trade shows and your golf club membership. You can let your application to that Pall Mall club gather dust too and move on from learning how to shake hands like a Mason.

The business schmooze has been wired to the internet age with the emerging popularity of The Sunday Times - Times Online

Linkedin offers a free service, but it is by invitation only. If you are not a member of Linkedin, but would like to be, then contact me. I'm not promising to issue invitations indiscriminately. However, I will send invitations to those who can establish that they are legitimate social entrepreneurs.

5. Gmail. Gmail ( now known as GoogleMail in the UK makes staying on top of e-mail easy, or at least easier. With 2.5 gigs of storage there is never a need to discard any e-mail; with Google's label system there is no need to waste time filing e-mails; and with Google's powerful search facility important e-mails from the past can be retrieved in fractions of a second. The massive storage Google provides also makes it possible for you to store (backup) important files on Google, then retrieve those files on any computer linked to the Internet. For more ideas on how to use Gmail effectively go to: (Gmail users also have access to Google Talk. It's the best talk program I've found.)

Gmail is by invitation only, but once again I am happy to supply an invitation to any legitimate social entrepreneur.

There are, of course, many other useful web 2.0 tools in existence, and many more in the pipeline. (I have been writing this entry on a pre-beta Flock browser. It has some bugs, but when they are handled, I predict it will become the browser of choice for social entrepreneurs.) Web 2.0 offers us a number of powerful tools, but that power is only realised in action. Put these tools to work. Don't talk, act! Begin building your value focused network today.

Technorati Tags: ,

Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Virtuous Circle / Theory & Practise / Social Capital

My last entry on this topic concluded with a statement of Podolny's Dilemma (my paraphrase):

Given that supportive networks are critical to the success of a social enterprise, it behoves the social entrepreneur to build and mobilize networks. However, engaging in this activity inevitably appears self-serving, and people are most likely to respond with positive action only when they believe the "would be" networker is most interested in them, and their values. That is when they are regarded as an end rather than a means to some other end. There just aren't many people willing to serve as a means to someone else's ends.

A failure to resolve this dilemma successfully results in passive support, and passive support is inadequate support.

How might the dilemma be resolved?

Dr. Podolny's short answer:

For the social entrepreneur, the solution is to make the network itself the ends rather than means, to treat the network not as a tool for information or resources but as a community defined by a common set of values, establish his or her role as guardian of that community. When there is an affinity between the values of the community and a change agenda, the community itself becomes the agent of change by transforming the identity of individuals such that [they] pursue the change agenda.

In popular parlance, 'dig the well before you're thirsty.'

Although Dr. Podolny cites research and examples (e.g. Ripan Kapur's leadership at CRY) to backup this conclusion, I am going to skip over the academic detail, and move directly to a discussion of practical implications and tips.

The first such implication, and only one I'll delve into today, is begin building your value based network now. It is never too soon to begin building your network community.

One website that offers a number of practical tips on building a value based network is Raising More Money.

Although "Raising More Money" is a site designed to facilitate non-profit fundraising efforts, its tips on networking and building support are easily transferable. The Raising More Money model starts with building social capital (Point of Entry) that can at a later date be transformed into physical, financial, human and organisational capital. Amongst the tips:

The Emotional Hook is the golden nugget of your Point of Entry. It's been said that, as individuals, we are emotional donors looking for rational reasons to justify our emotional decisions to give. All the facts in the world, alone, won't get us to give our biggest gift. Something's got to pull at our heartstrings. . . . Rest assured, every organization has an Emotional Hook.

And if you are one who's certain that you already know your hook, you're probably thinking of the obvious possibilities: the kids, the puppies, the hunger, the stories of domestic violence, or the catchy tag-line or logo.

These may be the hooks you talk about openly. But look deeper to what basic human emotions these trigger in people: guilt, fear, sadness, joy, etc.

You need to take the time to discover what it is about your organization that really hooks people, that calls them to become involved and stay involved. As long as you're taking the time to read this, you should assume for the moment that you don't know what it is.
Emotional Hooks

At Point of Entry Events, I would recommend that you focus more on your mission and your work and less on your needs. (You can go into more depth with your needs later, after you've already engaged these people with your mission.)

In this model, you do not ask people for money until they have been fully cultivated and are ready to give. For that reason, you don't state your financial needs at the beginning of your relationship with potential donors, nor do you tell them that your organization is in need of monetary gifts. However, your Point of Entry does need to give guests an overall sense of your organization's needs and the "gap" between where you are now and your vision for the future.

Point of Entry

In the Raising More Money Model, the key to successful, terror-free asking is the answer to only one question: Is this person ready to be asked? Another way of saying it is: "Have we gotten to know this person enough so that it would feel natural to ask them to make a financial contribution to the organization now [support our enterprise]?

Raising More Money ~ Abundance-Based Asking

we have proved time and time again that loyal donors with a true connection to the organization will not skip away during a crisis.

Raising More Money Blog

For the record, neither NTC, nor I have any commercial relationship with Raising More Money.

To be continued
Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Malawi Project

Last Thursday I received a pack of information from Richard Stephens of The Malawi Project. I have mentioned The Malawi Project in several previous posts, and I no doubt will mention the project many more times in the future.

Although NTC provides VitaMeals to malnourished children around the world, the work of The Malawi project is of special interest to the Oxford NTC Alliance. Members of the Oxford NTC Alliance support The Malawi Project by arranging for the donation of VitaMeals produced at the Madalitso Vita Meal Plant in Lumbadzi, Malawi to feed malnourished children in the region. Thus, I was delighted to receive the 3 books, magazine and DVD about Malawi, and The Malawi Project, that Richard sent. It is good, I believe, to be reminded of the 'Why' of our work.

In That's Malawi Suzi Stephens writes:

I am confused when I listen to my friends talking about "loving their neighbors" and "helping those in need", then rushing off to an upscale restaurant to laugh, joke and talk about "how difficult life is in their economically distressed lifestyles". As they order their appetizer and wait for the main course, I remember the villages where the next meal is a few roots pulled up from the bushes near the empty grain bin.

In Walking Among Gentile People Richard Stephens begins the chapter "The Worst Famine" with these words from Isaiah:

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

There is nothing wrong with abundance, but abundance mixed with insularity produces little light. Abandon insularity, visit
Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Virtuous Circle of Social Capital / The Endowment of Social Capital

As mentioned in the introduction to this series, the social entrepreneur's initial endowment of social capital is his/her network of relationships and contacts that are tied together by shared values and interests.

It is out of this pre-existing network of contacts that Charles Leadbeater suggests the aspiring social entrepreneur must forge new links that will ultimately lead to the 'physical, financial and human capital needed to get the show on the road.'

Leadbeater's counsel to social entrepreneurs when simplified is: build your network. Social entrepreneurs who fail to network effectively may not have access to needed physical, financial and human resources. Leadbeater's advice, though easy to grasp, in my experience, often proves difficult to implement.

The root of this difficulty is explained by Joel Podolny*:

We are all familiar with Kant's categorical imperative to treat people as ends and not means [only]. . . . this imperative holds special significance for the social entrepreneur who seeks to cultivate social change. For the social entrepreneur, the imperative frames both the dilemma and the solution as to how to mobilize a network behind the change agenda. . . . I can foreshadow where I am going with two simple observations:

Observation #1: what people are willing to do for you is strongly influenced by how much they believe you care about them and their values - that is, how much you regard them as ends.

Observation #2: there are few times that a person appears as self-interested as when that person is building a network in pursuit of a goal. Think about the last time that an individual told you he or she was going "to network" or do some "networking". Few words or phrases convey more strongly the idea of treating others as means.

Hence, the dilemma: We know - from experience and from years of sociological research - that networks are critical to the success of social change efforts. We know that in order for a social entrepreneur to bring about social change, the social entrepreneur depends on the experience, time, resource of a large number of others. Yet, we also know - from experience and from years of research - that when an individual attempts to build a network in support of a goal, that individual converts relatively few to act on behalf of the cause for which they were not already acting. The experience, time and resource flowing back from others is comparatively weak - in large part because few want to be the means to someone else's ends. The entrepreneur experiences this weak support from his or her network as a significant barrier to social change.

Bootstrapping social entrepreneurs who work (effectively) at expanding their network of relationships with like-minded individuals improve on their venture's odds for success. It is essential, in my opinion, that social entrepreneurs aquire network building skills. With that in mind, I intend to explore the how and why of networking in greater detail in my next entry on 'The Virtuous Circle.'

Please feel free to share any insight on network building that you have in the comments section of this blog.

*I first met Joel Podolny when he delivered the Clarendon Lectures in Management at Oxford University's Said Business School in 2004, and then again when he spoke at Oxford's Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship in March of this year. The material I have quoted in this post is taken from his Skoll talk 'Social Networks As Ends Rather Than Means'.

At that time he was the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School. Recently, Joel has moved to Yale where he is now Dean of the Yale School of Management. That's good news for Yale, and I hope for Joel.

In conversation he is gracious. As a scholar he is profound. Our conversations have roamed from business to baseball and Shakespeare. His range and depth of knowledge is impressive. I would urge social entrepreneurs to become acquainted with his work.

Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Objections to Social Entrepreneurship - Repeat

Given the nature of the objections to social entrepreneurship that have been posted in several of this blog's threads recently, I have decided to post this entry once more. New entries on the virtuous circle of social capital will resume in a few days.

If you have been telling people about social entrepreneurship for any length of time, you have no doubt discovered that there are folks who object to the concept. These objections to social entrepreneurship are frequently expressed in moral and ethical tones.

Although I am persuaded that many of these objections are invoked merely to allow the objector to pretend to some moral high ground, rather than expressions of real and fervent concerns, dismissing the objector does not disarm the objection.

Three common variations of the ethical objection (in my experience) are:

  1. "I don't believe it's moral to make money off other peoples' problems."
  2. "No one who engages in humanitarian work for a profit can have a good motive."
  3. "Social entrepreneurship is unethical."

I have heard all three of these objections more than once.

With regard to the first objection, I agree, I don't believe it's right to seek to profit from other peoples' misery: that's why I am not in the tobacco business.

Indeed, I don't think that I've ever met a legitimate social entrepreneur who has sought to profit from the pain of others. Just as good doctors and nurses attempt to cure disease, and to alleviate human pain and suffering, social entrepreneurs attempt to solve social and humanitarian problems, and alleviate the pain these social and humanitarian problems create.

However, unlike doctors and nurses, social entrepreneurs are paid for results produced rather than efforts made. Social entrepreneurs aren't bureaucrats! Perpetuating social and humanitarian problems doesn't work to the advantage of an honest social entrepreneur.

It is only by creating social goods that social entrepreneurs reap a profit (aka as an income to live on). Social entrepreneurs are creative risk takers in service to humanity.

Those of us attracted to social entrepreneurship typically want to earn our keep by making the world a better place. We, unlike more traditional entrepreneurs, measure our success in terms of a double bottom line: mission results (the production of social and humanitarian good) and profit earned.

If social entrepreneurs earn their living off the suffering of others, then how much more so do doctors and nurses.

The second objection (no good motive) strikes me as unnecessarily dogmatic. I will concede that there may well be perversely motivated social entrepreneurs, but I know that such a categorical claim is without question false.

Although I do think motives are important, I am not psychic. Personally, Kant's deontological moral and ethical stance appeals to me, but I have given up trying to scrutinize the inscrutable.

I am fairly certain that most of us have good and bad points, and that we unavoidably hold mixed motives when undertaking almost any task. I am less certain that severely malnourished children should do without food until my motives (or anyone else's) are more saintly.

In my case, my wife and I have a 7 week old daughter (our first) at home. I don't believe that my efforts to feed starving children abroad should involve my starving my own child at home.

My motives are hopelessly mixed. I find the starvation of children anywhere in the world an outrage. Although we have the resource to bring this outrage to an end, after 50 years of sincere, but mostly ineffectual efforts by governments and aid organisations, 15,000 children under the age of five still perish/starve each and every day.

I want to see this problem solved, but not enough to deny my own family food, shelter, clothing or any other normal amenity that people in the UK expect. I admit I am selfish, but would the starving children be better off if I were to fold my enterprise? (Over the past 3 years Nourish the Children has provided over 35 million meals to feed severely malnourished children around the world Nourish the Children.) Would the children we feed really be better off if I stop working to feed them until I become an ascended master?

How about you?

Assuming you are a social entrepreneur, are your motives entirely unselfish? Would the beneficiaries of your enterprise be better off if you forgot about them, and took a job with British American Tobacco?

Does anyone really believe that employees of more traditional humanitarian organisations work without even the slightest thought of gaining a personal benefit?

Are they really all saints, ascended masters or bodisattvas? Why did the Red Cross pay its former president Elizabeth Dole 200k per year? Why did she accept the money?

As you have probably noticed the "motive objection" irritates me. So does the third objection: "Social entrepreneurship is unethical." People who advance this objection, in my experience, aren't able to explain why social entrepreneurship is unethical. In most cases, when questioned they respond: "It just doesn't sound like a good idea." Now that is a powerful moral and ethical objection. (I'm being ironic.)

Moral and ethical objections are often raised, but rarely are the objections substantial. This is in part because most people don't bother to examine their own hodge podge notions about morality, ethics, and right and wrong. Many when questioned will say that they just know that they know. This moral certitude, confirmed by beliefs and prejudice may be comfortable, but is it coherent?

Ask those who object to social entrepreneurship on moral and ethical grounds to be a little more specific. Are their objections deontological? consequentialist? Virtue based? Teleological? Does the objector hold, as does J. R. Searle, that "ought" can be derived from "is"? Or, does the objector follow Hume, and argue that "ought" cannot be derived from "is"?

When evaluating a moral issue which is primary, the act, the motive or the consequence? Perhaps the objector agrees with the German theologian DietrichBonhoeffer's position as found in his Ethics, and believes that the attempt to gain a knowledge of "good" and "evil" is the root cause of all inhumanity, and that we should seek out the will of God rather than trying to distinguish right from wrong. Or maybe the objector follows Nietzsche and a few other existentialist philosophers, and holds that humanitarian acts are in themselves immoral. How to best respond depends on what the objector considers immoral and unethical.

In most cases, I think the claim that social entrepreneurship is inherently unethical is rooted in the belief that the profit a social entrepreneur earns, is earned at the expense of the intended recipient (e.g. starving orphans in Africa). If that were the case, then there might be some merit to the objection. It might point to an inherently teleopathic system, but it doesn't.

That is not to say that all social entrepreneurs are supremely efficient, but rather that the marketplace does not favour inefficient, high cost, low quality providers. In time inefficient providers are driven from the field.

The administrative inefficiencies of these entrepreneurial providers, however, pale in comparison to the inefficiencies of many governmental and non-profit providers of social and humanitarian goods. I suspect there is often a latent assumption that non-profit means no or low cost. But, does it really mean that?

Consider the case of the UK's Child Support Agency (CSA). It has come to light that it costs the taxpayers 54 pence to deliver £1 (100 pence) of benefit. (Child Support Agency Failure)

It is hard to imagine any social entrepreneur operating at that level of administrative inefficiency remaining in business for long.

Business and entrepreneurial incentives, when properly applied, help to eliminate inefficiencies, and to bring more and better products and services to those who require them. The entrance of entrepreneurs into the UK communication marketplace illustrates my point.

In the not too distant past, the UK telecommunication network was run by the government. I well remember how I feared the arrival of my unitemised phone bill. As an American expat living in Britain, I make a fair number of calls back to the States. Under the old non-profit state system my bills frequently exceeded £400. My new carrier gives me free calls to the States, Canada and Australia. As a result my bill now rarely tops £30.

The old system impoverished me (literally). On more than a few occasions I sold books from my library to raise the money I needed to pay a telephone bill. The new system leaves money on my table, and books in my library. The efforts of profit seeking telecom entrepreneurs have benefited rich and poor alike.

Today social entrepreneurs are working to produce similar results in a variety of social and humanitarian fields. Indeed, we might well ask given the obvious teleopathy of established governmental and non-profit efforts to eradicate humanitarian problems, if it is moral to advocate the continuance of these ineffectual, resource draining, high cost programmes. By Einstein's measure it is slightly insane to advocate doing the same thing over and over, and yet expect, and promise, a different (better) result.

In my opinion, it's time for the objectors to reconsider the morality of their opposition. It is time for them to remove the mote from their own eyes, before they spend too much time condemning the speck in ours.

Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Nonprofit Mentality in Politics

There will be more on creating and investing social capital tomorrow. Today, I want briefly to return to a previous topic: The Nonprofit Mentality.

Sunday's Observer (UK) ran a piece by former Clinton aid Dick Morris. Morris describes Senator Clinton in terms similar to those Jere Boschee uses to describe
the nonprofit mentality:

So what kind of President would Hillary be? How would Condi handle the job? Let's start with policy. Hillary Clinton would be the most liberal President since Lyndon Johnson. Bill Clinton is a moderate by choice and, sometimes, a liberal by necessity. But his wife is the exact opposite. Hillary believes that government delivers services well and that the quest for private profit is the root of all selfishness and vice in American life.
The Observer Review An extract from Condi vs Hillary by Dick Morris
Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Virtuous Circle of Social Capital / intro

According to Charles Leadbeater, Senior Research Associate with Demos, successful social entrepreneurs create a cycle of development that goes through 6 stages. These stages are:

  1. Endowment of social capital
  2. Physical capital
  3. Financial capital
  4. Human capital
  5. Organisational capital
  6. Paying dividends

The initial endowment of social capital is a network of relationships and contacts that are tied together by shared values and interests. This social capital, Leadbeater states, is vital to social entrepreneurs because they typically lack direct access to substantial financial capital. In this phase of development it behooves the social entrepreneur to leverage this endowment by using existing relationships to create more social capital. Leadbeater suggests that the social entrepreneur should focus on building a wider web of trust and cooperation for his/her enterprise. He states, 'With this start-up fund of social capital the social entrepreneur can then get access to the physical, financial and human capital needed to get the show on the road.' Unfortunately, Leadbeater and Demos fail to provide guidance in how best to go at this, or any task related to any stage of the development cycle.

To remedy this shortcoming the next several (I'm not sure how many) Ambassador entries will discuss a stage, or stages, of the 'virtuous circle of social capital' development and offer practical tips for completing tasks relevant to the stage(s) discussed.

Readers are encouraged to share their own experience and practical tips in the comments section of the post. My next entry will remain focused on stage 1 of the cycle: building the social capital endowment.

Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Generous or Charitable?

Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.
- Albert Camus
Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What About Results?

Here are a few examples (out of hundreds) of the humanitarian good that we NTC networked social entrepreneurs have produced in our first 3 years:

Lumbadzi, Malawi … No sooner had the ribbon been removed from the grand opening, and the crowds completed their tours of the facility, than the production workers moved into position and food started coming off the end of the line.

In less than a week the workers were able to set a record to be topped; 2000 bags of Nourish the Children's VitaMeals in a single day. That is enough food to feed 2000 children for 30 days, and it was produced in a single record-setting day.

Plans call for a minimum of 1000 bags a day in production, but the work crew showed management just how far they could stretch the minimum requirements.

Nourish The Children (, Feed The Children, Nu Skin Enterprises (, Force For Good Foundation (, Lee Iacocca Foundation, Healing Hands International, Blessings Hospital, and the Malawi Project joined their efforts into one, and coupled with the cooperation of the Malawi government and local traditional authorities, the plant went from ground breaking to opening in only 10 months.

Agriculture programs that now include over 33,000 farmers will help "feed" the needs of the plant in soybeans and maize corn. Vitamins and minerals will be shipped to the plant from Nourish The Children, and Nourish The Children will purchase, and then donate to the Malawi Project the first 24,000 packages of food a month.

The food being produced in this first-of-a-kind facility is not just food to fill stomachs. Each program carried out by the Malawi Project is targeted to be the best it can be, and a program that will be a pace-setting example to other aid organizations.

The food plant is an excellent example of this effort to excel. The food that is being produced carries a highly enhanced vitamin and mineral mix that contains the following needed vitamins and minerals for the health of the children eating it. Seldom will these children have a meal that will be as good for their health as the VitaMeals that come from the Madalistso Food Plant.

Plans for the plant will not only focus on distribution of food aid through the programs of Blessings Hospital and the Malawi Project but also will focus on assisting other aid organizations in Malawi, and in the nations surrounding this tiny spot in the sub-Sahara.

PLUSNEWS, IRIN AFRICA- “The impacts of drought, HIV/AIDS and a weak economy have combined to undermine already vulnerable households in Malawi's rural areas…

Penelope Howarth, head of the World Food Programme (WFP) suboffice in Blantyre, told IRIN that many villages in the district had "harvested next to nothing" this year, and people were surviving on wild vegetation and seeking out ganyu (piece work) across the border in Mozambique.

"Others are diving for water lilies - the danger is that there are a lot of crocodiles in the river," she added. Sam Sheku, a WFP field liaison officer, said people had to dive to the riverbed to get the edible roots of the lilies, and Howarth noted that "six members of a family died recently because they ate the wrong kind of lily". Sheku said, "Normally, this time of year they would have harvested [enough to eat] and would be planting winter maize, but there's no residual moisture in the soil [for planting], as there has been no rain."

The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) report noted that if the maize price kept pace with inflation at the average rate for 2002-2004, some 4.2 million people would be at risk. If inflation accelerated (as evidenced by the 75
percent rise in the current maize price) the situation could worsen. The worst-case scenario, depending on the speed and price of imports, could see 4.6 million people at risk in Malawi this year…

In one female-headed household in Thauzeni village, Maria Saba, who estimated her age at about 23, and her mother, Esnath, care for Maria's three children as well as her younger sister Nondo's two young kids. "Both the fathers of the children have died," Maria said.

With five children to feed, the women rely on ganyu to buy maize for the household, but with a poor harvest, ganyu has been hard to find and they have resorted to foraging for edible wild vegetation. The women tried to plant this season "but our maize dried up", Maria said. "The wild leaves we eat are bitter and sometimes they make us vomit, but we only have enough maize meal to last a day," Maria said, so the family has reduced its intake to one meal a day. Corn fields dying from the drought.

A few metres from Maria's home, two young girls, aged 10 and 11, and their 18-year-old brother have been forced to fend for themselves. Zione, the youngest, and her sister, Marianna, have relied on whatever income their brother, Masauko, is able to earn from selling firewood and thatching for homes. "We are here like this because our parents died last year - they died from a long illness," said Masauko.”

Russ Merrill and Angela Soper from the Nu Skin Audio Visual staff recently visited Malawi and Russ described Angela’s reaction:

“I was glad Angela was there to experience Malawi. At one point at the wood-carving market she broke down and cried while watching people walk by. She saw some hurtful sights and conditions that the people there live with. “And we have so much – it just isn’t right!” She was torn apart – I mean really emotionally torn apart. I tried to prepare her for those sights – but how can you really prepare anyone for something like that? She had no idea.”

Because of your donations, over 30,000 children in Malawi are being fed a nutritious meal every day through this crisis. Thank you for remembering the children of Malawi.

Nourish the Chidren is feeding children in many nations. This humanitarian good is driven by the effort and action of NTC allied social entrepreneurs around the world.

Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Entrepreneurs: A Force for Good

The Guardian reprinted the following remarks from a Demos report authored by LSE Professor John Gray and Fernando Flores in its Daily Comment:

Guardian Unlimited Guardian daily comment A wing and a prayer:

"But another form of working life is also developing - the entrepreneur. Instead of being led by chance and talent, the new entrepreneurial life is driven by bringing value to the community."

Gray and Flores argue that the transformation of working life, and the loss of many traditional business career paths is creating moral and social risks that must be addressed, if community life in prosperous regions is to be sustained. And, as can be seen from the remark quoted above, the authors regard entrepreneurial initiative as the right medicine for the problem. Entrepreneurship, in their words, brings 'value to the community.'

I would argue that social entrepreneurs bring all the same benefits to the community that Gray and Flores attribute to ordinary business entrepreneurship plus something more.

Nourish the Children illustrates my point. NTC provides those in more prosperous regions of the world with an opportunity to work as social entrepreneurs. Those choosing to pursue the NTC social entrepreneurship path might be doing so because: they have been displaced by the 'transformation of working life'; or they need to supplement an inadequate pension; or to supplement a family income; or they are committed humanitarians looking for a more effective way to create social good. Their motivations don't matter much: their entrepreneurial activity, independent of motive, and in common with all responsible entrepreneurial activity, brings an economic and social benefit to the community.

But, these entrepreneurs are also creating something more. Again using NTC to illustrate my point about the plus value of social entrepreneurship: NTC social entrepreneurs have, in a little more than 3 years time, provided their Alliance Partners (World Vision, Feed the Children, and others) with over 35 million Vitameals to feed severely malnourished children around the world. They have also generated funding to build locally owned food processing facilities in impoverished countries such as Malawi. (The Malawi facility now provides employment to 400 Malawians, and buys grains from many thousands of Malawi's farmers. Malawi Project) NTC social entrepreneurs have even supplied over 1 million meals to feed victims of hurricane Katrina. In short, social entrepreneurs, as illustrated by NTC, create social good both in their local communities/countries, and abroad.

Although I have used NTC to illustrate my point, I hasten to acknowledge that there are many other legitimate social enterprises that might be used to make the same point.

Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Nonprofit Mentality

Lest anyone think that Jere Boschee is wrong to describe the "nonprofit mentality" as a 'belief that capitalism and profits are social evils,' consider the following comments by two active nonprofit advocates:

I can understand the argument that even Pablo Eisenberg makes for compensating some who are in need, but we must remember that the lack of compensation doesn't get in the way of great folks serving as stewards for any number of philanthropies.
Joe Breiteneicher
No Comp-No Problem

Nonprofits serve the public interest but are accountable mainly to boards of wealthy people. Whether the boards are paid or unpaid they are likely to be imbued with the attitudes of those who have made it. How many at that level can be upset at the way things are, since how bad can a world be that has propelled board members to wealth, power, prestige and prominence?
Phil Cubeta
I Resent the Rich

Mr Breiteneicher's assertion is absurd. The lack of compensation most certainly does get in the way of great people serving. I know quite a few people who want to be involved in humanitarian work, but who must spend there time earning the money they need to pay their bills. Social entrepreneurship allows them to do both. At least in a some cases, no comp means no contribution.

Mr. Cubeta's comments are equally absurd. Although I am not independently wealthy, I know several people who are. I have noticed that they have many of the same sorts of cares and anxieties that less well off folks have. They are concerned about the world we live in, and the world their children will inherit. They have health and relationship problems just like the rest of us. Mr. Cubeta's remarks drip with envy, and envy is a most unattractive quality.

To paraphrase MLK, 'Let us not judge others by the colour of their skin (nor by their bank balance), but by the content of their character.'
Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Raw Materials of Social Entrepreneurship

CELCEE - Social Entrepreneurship: Profit as a Means, Not an End

Jerr Boschee, the President and CEO of the National Center for Social Entrepreneurs, has unparalleled practical experience working with social entrepreneurs. Based on this experience he has identified what he terms the "raw materials" of social entrepreneurship. The raw materials are:

1) Candor; 2) Passion; 3) Clarity in your mission; 4) Commitment; 5) Core Values; 6) Products and services driven by customers; 7) Sound business concepts; 8) Willingness to plan; 9) Building the right team; 10) Having sufficient resources; and 11) Ability to improvise. Overcoming the nonprofit mentality with these skills is the formula for success for the social entrepreneur.

Boschee defines the "nonprofit mentality" as: The belief that capitalism and profits are social evils. How many people must be made to suffer needlessly in order to satisfy the whims and wooly thinking of the arrogant, the self-righteous and the sanctimonious?
Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Seth Godin's Social Entrepreneurship Experiment

The legendary Internet guru Seth Godin is offering a new e-book that should interest social entrepreneurs. As Godin has given his permission to post from the book, I offer you the following extract:
[SQUIDOO IS] AN EXPERIMENT: A big experiment. It's an exercise in amplifyin
g the voices of people with something to say, at the same time that we build a community, a site that’s free to use, a co-op that pays royalties to its members, and a way to raise millions of dollars for charity—from New Orleans to Tanzania. This is an ebook about a brand new online company and, more important, about a new sort of online tool that might very well change the way you discover (and publish) information.

I am hopeful that Godin's new effort will produce a valuable new social enterprise, and a new and worthwhile online community for active social and humanitarian entrepreneurs.

Why not take a minute now and go to: ,

and collect Godin's free e-book.

Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Friday, October 07, 2005

A Good Kind of Business

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business.
Henry Ford

I don't think it's about making money. It's more about acting as the custodian of the world's resources, both human and natural, and making sure those resources are put to work in such ways that they are useful for the survival of the human race.
Thomas J. C. Raymond

No margin - no mission
Richard Stadtherr

Nourish the Children (NTC) through one of its alliance partners, Feed the Children, has delivered over one million VitaMeals™ for the relief efforts in the Gulf Coast. These meals have been donated by Nourish the Children distributors in the United States and Hong Kong. The emergency relief centers report that VitaMeals™ have been well received by the refugees especially after they add their own Cajun spices to the recipe.

Nourish the Children is a social enterprise that makes more than money. It acts as a custodian of resources, both human and natural, and NTC makes sure that those assets are put to work in such ways that they are useful for the survival of humanity.

Over the past 3 years of its existence, NTC has provided more than 33 million meals to feed severely malnourished children through its alliance partners (e.g World Vision, Feed the Children & The UN World Food Programme). NTC has also provided thousands of people with the opportunity and platform to become effective social entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs understand better than most that no margin means mission not accomplished.

We NTC social entrepreneurs are seeking a purpose beyond, but not without, profit.
Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Thomas J. C. Raymond

Thomas J.C. Raymond, at 88; a teacher at Harvard Business School for 37 years - The Boston Globe

Dr. Thomas J. C. Raymond taught at the Harvard Business School Business School for 37 years.

In its recent obituary of Dr Raymond The Boston Globe reports that:

In a newsletter published this spring by Harvard, Dr. Raymond discussed his business philosophy. ''I don't think it's about making money," he said. ''It's more about acting as the custodian of the world's resources, both human and natural, and making sure those resources are put to work in such ways that they are useful for the survival of the human race."

Unfortunately, amongst students of social entrepreneurship there are many who discount the value of the contribution business oriented entrepreneurs make in putting resources to work in ways 'that are useful for the survival of the human race.'

The remarks of a Ph. D. candidate (Paola Grenier) at the London School of Economics (posted at: ssireview), I believe, reflect this bias. Grenier reportedly wants to challenge 'the dominance of business schools in the development of research and and education into social entrepreneurship'. She feels that, 'social justice needs to be a bit more centre stage in social entrepreneurship.'

At this years Oxford Said Business School Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship a slight majority of the delegates I met held similar views, and one of the speakers went so far as to denounce 'the myth of compassionate capitalism.' If such attitudes prevail, and entrepreneurs are driven out of social entrepreneurship, we face yet another 50 years of ineffectual humanitarian effort.

(I will be returning to this topic in the near future.)

Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Maintain Your Standards

Knowing that you have failed to live up to your own standards for your life is the ultimate pain, and knowing that you have fulfilled your highest vision of yourself is the ultimate pleasure.
Anthony Robbins

I haven't confirmed the attribution of the above quotation to Robbins, but I can confirm that its words bear truth.

To know that we could have, but didn't make a difference, is painful. To know that our efforts have made the world a little bit better is a great joy.

If you haven't experienced this joy recently, then perhaps the world of social entrepreneurship has something significant to offer you and yours.

NB: One need not make social and humanitarian projects a full time pursuit for one's effort to make a significant difference.

Robbins at the Harvard Business School:
Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

No More "Quiet Desperation"

Social entrepreneurs would do well to consider the following lines taken from T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland:

Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth Kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.

Eliot's allusion to a Dantean hell is unmistakable.

Too many denizens of our work-a-day world are experiencing a form of "death-in- life." If these people are experiencing any emotion, that is if they are not wholly dead, the emotion experienced is most likely that which Thoreau terms 'quiet desperation.'

But why?

I think it is because many people routinely end up in work that doesn't (as they see it) offer much more than a paycheck. These people, and they are legion, don't identify with the mission and values of the firms that employ them. They have chosen success (financial) at the expense of significance, and at the end of the day they just don't feel as though what they do at work, in the big scheme of things, matters much. In such circumstances, a deadening despondency is not to be unexpected.

As a banker working in the City of London, Eliot was able to observe this deadness in City employees on a daily basis.

Social/humanitarian entrepreneurship offers people a chance to combine success with significance. As social entrepreneurs we not only have the opportunity to help the disadvantaged, we, also, have the opportunity to help our neighbours escape the "dead sound on the final stroke of nine."

We enhance lives both here and abroad. We save lives, and in the same instant add new meaning to our own. I can't think of a better way to earn my keep. (see Making a difference while earning a living &

Let your neighbours know they have a choice.
Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Monday, October 03, 2005

Fast Company 2005 Social Capitalist Awards

Fast Company has created a special section that builds on its original social entrepreneurship coverage found in its January issue. This new section includes adviser profiles, and position statements contributed by the winner and other finalist organisations. Check
Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Hi Tech Social Entrepreneurship

In Jim Fruchterman's excellent Ubiquity article, "Technology Benefiting Humanity," he urges technologists to embrace and engage in social entrepreneurship. Jim writes:

Looking at the social sector as valued customers for technology tools changes the dynamic from charity to engagement: helping disadvantaged communities help themselves.
Please join this exciting movement in its early days. The world will be a much better place if you do.

The full article can be found at:

It is definitely worth taking a few minutes of your time to read what Jim has to say.
Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Better Way

I have been skimming through Wallace Wattle's The Science of Getting Rich. Wattle's work, first published in 1910, has some interesting business advice that 21st century entrepreneurs, and especially 21st century social entrepreneurs, would do well to heed.

Wattle counsels:

WHEN I say that you do not have to drive sharp bargains, I do not mean that you do not have to drive any bargains at all, or that you are above the necessity for having any dealings with your fellow men. I mean that you will not need to deal with them unfairly; you do not have to get something for nothing, but can give to every man more than you take from him.

You cannot give every man more in cash market value than you take from him, but you can give him more in use value than the cash value of the thing you take from him. The paper, ink, and other material in this book may not be worth the money you pay for it; but if the ideas suggested by it bring you thousands of dollars, you have not been wronged by those who sold it to you; they have given you a great use value for a small cash value.

Let us suppose that I own a picture by one of the great artists, which, in any civilized community, is worth thousands of dollars. I take it to Baffin Bay, and by "salesmanship" induce an Eskimo to give a bundle of furs worth $ 500 for it. I have really wronged him, for he has no use for the picture; it has no use value to him; it will not add to his life.

But suppose I give him a gun worth $50 for his furs; then he has made a good bargain. He has use for the gun; it will get him many more furs and much food; it will add to his life in every way; it will make him rich.

When you rise from the competitive to the creative plane, you can scan your business transactions very strictly, and if you are selling any man anything which does not add more to his life than the thing he gives you in exchange, you can afford to stop it. You do not have to beat anybody in business. And if you are in a business which does beat people, get out of it at once. Give every man more in use value than you take from him in cash value; then you are adding to the life of the world by every business transaction.

Wattle's book is easily found and freely available at a number of different sites. Rebecca Fine's offers an especially attractive free download edition. She, also, offers a free ezine, The Certain Way, that explores contemporary applications of Wattle's thought.
Blink It diigo itAdd to My AOLAdd to Google