Monday, October 8, 2007

Social entrepreneurship.

I'm seeing this word more and more often these days...

A glimpse of the word may give you a weird feeling, as the words "social" and "enterprise" aren't often seen in the same sentence... well, at least until now they weren't. But today, an increasing number of people in Japan are showing interest in doing something for the society. Hence the popularity of jobs in the fields such as international cooperation. However, up until maybe a couple of years ago, these activities were thought to be exclusive to the non-profits and the government. Well, times have changed.

We have many global issues. Some of them are small, while others are bigger. Many people notice them, and some of them stand up and say "I've gotta do something about this." However, for them to really get down in the mud and get some things done takes more preparedness than just saying it, because (1) you need a lot of time, (2) you need manpower, and (3) you need to make your own living. But one who is willing to do all of this while simultaneously staying true to the passion to work for these global, social issues, I call a "social entrepreneur".

Whether it's a private business or a non-profit organization, it must be a sustainable one for it to continue pursuing what it has to do. You need time, manpower, finance, and those resources also have to be managed effectively and put into use in the best way possible. So, I believe a business-like approach is essential for the non-profits too, the only difference between a business being whether its ultimate mission is to make money or to make positive changes to the society.

But then again, existing businesses are also changing. Long term survival in the industry has become more challenging than ever before. They need to thoroughly understand who their customers are and what they truly want. They all need to find their niche. And, catering to the specific needs of those people can sometimes also be considered doing something for the society. Ah... heading towards becoming "social enterprises"?

Of course, all of this depends on how one defines the word "society". And though many organizations will still remain like an ordinary NPO or an ordinary business, I believe the differences and the disconnects between those two will continue to erode, in a very positive sense. :-)

No comments: