A quick look at the world scenario allows us to notice we must still solve many challenges in the social field. While technological development and knowledge production follow a course of steady growth, social development continues an irregular course; there are still basic needs unsatisfied in many parts of our planet in such crucial issues as healthcare access, housing, malnutrition, fair education or internet penetration, to name a few.
This post expresses the need to face all these facts from a different perspective, to be positioned in the modern world: The social business.
A few weeks ago, CNN Money published an article called “The 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time” an interesting and very motivating article which shows 12 living examples of visionary people, who had know how to manage their environment to transform markets.
I was struck by the fact that despite all members of the list have made changes in society with their companies, one of the main conditions tested was the amount of money they have generated. That made me think of how we measure social development and social impact these days: money. Despite many people accumulate money with the capitalist logic in an excessive way, we still have thousands of challenges to face.
This made me think of this question: Is money the only motivation for an entrepreneur? If such brilliant minds have been so successful building models to generate wealth, perhaps, Does those same skills could be used to solve the basic issues of millions of people worldwide? To my relief this list reserved a space for someone who could answer me something about these concerns.
Muhammad Yunus has committed his life to solve poverty in the world. We will summarize that he is an economist who, after returning to his country of origin (Bangladesh) in the eighties, decided to start teaching what he knew (money and markets). He saw that people were dying because of the problems that these theories have when applying them in the proper context, as shown by high levels of poverty.
He wanted to focus his knowledge in solving this priority problem in his own country and started micro credit as a strategy to help people in poor socioeconomic conditions. Over the years, these actions gave rise to the Grameen Bank, with a great success in Bangladesh. This model has been replicated in many places of the world.
Going further, some years ago Yunus has begun to lead a new business philosophy called Social Business whose working principle is the ability to use all the business theory to solve a social need while taking into account sustainability and social impact.
Why does this proposal represent a revolution? We could say it´s because it contradicts traditional paradigms that support social development such as:
Making money is the final porpouse of every business activities.
Social activities should be of the charitable type.
Entrepreneurs are only motivated by the wish to make money for their own, without caring about the needs of their communities.
A social business seeks to generate a sustainable business model (which involves money generation) but whose main goal is to solve a specific social problem. Thus, the money generated will be reinvested in the business and it will not deliver dividends to its owners, maximizing social impact.
In a practical sense, imagine that your country has a problem of malnutrition among poor children. So instead of just looking to deliver food donations to these people, you create a company to sell and distribute food to combat these nutritional deficiencies at an affordable price for that people. So you are attacking the social problem, and generating revenue for the sustainability of your business.
Yunus implemented this model in Bangladesh, where he created Grameen Danone (in partnership with Danone, the French dairy multinational) and began to produce yoghurt with nutritional supplements at low-cost for poor communities.
Thanks to examples like these, many people around the world have decided to focus their business and professional life in a social cause. Always motivated by the conviction of the knowledge and entrepreneurial attitude as leading to generate different models in the context of the needs of the society in areas as different as finance, health and education.
As a last thought I want to ask:** What social needs you see around you? Are you aware about the poverty levels in your city or your country?**
In the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta “We don’t have in our hands the solution to world problems, but for the world’s problems we have our hands”.
Social businesses is presented as a way to start doing something against this problems. It depends only on us to look away or to use our hands.