Social Entrepreneurship

Question: What is the future of social entrepreneurship?

 

Andrew Kuper: Social entrepreneurship is an incredibly exciting movement. It was spawned by Bill Drayton about 30 years ago who is an incredibly visionary entrepreneur who had the idea that you could really do venture capital for the social sector. So you could pick visionary entrepreneurs committed to systematic social change who had ethical fiber, who were committed to social impact, who were innovative and you could back them, give them some resources and a global support system that allowed them to achieve their goals whether it was in environment, education, healthcare, immigration, multiple different kinds of social impact and then this movement really rocketed and what allowed it to do was both the vision and the power of Ashoka and it offshoots like Endeavor and Acumen and other wonderful organizations that supports social entrepreneurs but it was also the massive growth of the social sector.

So the nonprofits; if you look at the numbers, they’re dramatic. Between 1980 and 2005, you basically have the number of nonprofits in Brazil, go from, I believe it was something like 5,000 to nearly a million, you had in the US, the number of nonprofits go from around 400,000 to 1.2 million so you have this massive burgeoning of the social sector. It suddenly become a much bigger space with much more impact and if you think about it historically, this is interesting because in the 19th Century, we had the Industrial Revolution, in the 18th and 19th Century. At the beginning of the 20th Century and with the world wars, we had the massive growth of the state so you had the burgeoning of the state but the social sector was left behind and we’ve had in the past decades is a massive growth of that sector, almost an Industrial Revolution of that sector.

Now that creates large opportunities because you not only have large numbers of organizations but organizations that can work together and have a division of labor where you achieve much more. Now, what’s the next way for social entrepreneurship, well, I’m particularly excited by things that go up the next level so it helps organizations to work together very effectively whether it’s collaborative technology architectures, whether it’s organizations like Ashoka, Endeavor, and Acumen that helped entrepreneurs to find commonalities, Ashoka of course is a group collaboration, whether it’s financing vehicles that goes to the next level, that back a whole lot of different companies and try to see or organizations and see the synergies between those.

And my company’s and organization’s language is the other really exciting next stage. I think we’re going to see a whole bunch of hybrid entities going from 0% returns, in other words, straight charity and that’s appropriate because why… if you’re trying to end slavery, you’re not going to try to do it on a profitable basis, that is a really charitable activity right through to highly profitable areas like microinsurance and microcredit where you can do and other kinds of social business like Grameen Phone, the mobile phone company. All of these can be hugely profitable and yet hugely impactful and I want to see a complete range that goes minus 10% plus 5% plus 20% plus 60% across the board that works. Now, I happen to be most excited myself about the areas that really bring profit and purpose together and the reason that I’m really excited about that is if you could do something that is hugely socially impactful so it’s quality really helps people with the products you’re selling and at the same time, it’s highly profitable, it’s massively scalable.

And I’m frankly obsessed with the idea that there are four billion poor people out there, we don’t have time to waste, we have to do things at scale, so I want to find mechanisms to really allow for massive, rapid scaling that has a profound impact on the poor and that I think is the most exciting arrowhead of social entrepreneurship right now.

 

Recorded on: May 1, 2009

 

The president of LeapFrog Investments discusses the latest trends in the vast movement known as social entrepreneurship.

Live on Thursday: Learn innovation with 3-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn

Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

Does forgetting a name or word mean that I have dementia?

The number of people with dementia is expected to triple by 2060.

Photo by Connor Wang on Unsplash
Mind & Brain
The number of cases of dementia in the U.S. is rising as baby boomers age, raising questions for boomers themselves and also for their families, caregivers and society.
Keep reading Show less

New Hubble images add to the dark matter puzzle

The images and our best computer models don't agree.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists can detect the gravitational effects of invisible dark matter.
  • Dark matter causes visual distortions of what's behind it.
  • The greater the distortion, the greater the amount of dark matter. Maybe.
  • Keep reading Show less

    A new minimoon is headed towards Earth, and it’s not natural

    Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.

    Credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Paitoon Pornsuksomboon/Shutterstock/Big Think
    Surprising Science
  • Small objects such as asteroids get trapped for a time in Earth orbit, becoming "minimoons."
  • Minimoons are typically asteroids, but this one is something else.
  • The new minimoon may be part of an old rocket from the 1960s.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Did our early ancestors boil their food in hot springs?

    Scientists have found evidence of hot springs near sites where ancient hominids settled, long before the control of fire.

    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
    Culture & Religion
    Some of the oldest remains of early human ancestors have been unearthed in Olduvai Gorge, a rift valley setting in northern Tanzania where anthropologists have discovered fossils of hominids that existed 1.8 million years ago.
    Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast