Acs, Z.J. et al. (2010) The social value of productive entrepreneurship, George Mason University, Washington
This paper compares the social value created by one social enterprise – the Grameen Bank – and one commercial enterprise – Microsoft. They suggest that social entrepreneurship creates both commercial and social value and that if:
“… the entrepreneurship (with all that entails in the entrepreneurship literature) creates social value, then it is social entrepreneurship.”
They have opened up the definition in this case to include commercial enterprises that create social value. Social entrepreneurship even within Microsoft.
Suddenly I feel nervous.
But the main point of this post was to summarise their five points of comparison between charity and social entrepreneurship … something else that I’d love to have a discussion about.
Role of Social Value Creation
- charities exist to redistribute income from the haves to the have-nots
- social entrepreneurship’s role in social value creation is to be a change agent through innovation and mutually benefit exchanges
- charity works within give structures in society
- social entrepreneurship creates opportunities for social structural change
- the purpose of charity is to alleviate immediate suffering rather than deep social change
- social entrepreneurship’s purpose is to improve social conditions
- charity is primarily financed through donations
- social entrepreneurship is funded through a business model
- charity is not sustainable as it is reliant on donor funding and is a vehicle for income redistribution
- by definition social entrepreneurship is sustainable as it uses a business model
- charity is designed to alleviate immediate suffering, the response is quick and the impact is short lived
- social entrepreneurship can be short-lived or run for decades just like any enterprise
I look at the picture of charities Acs et al. have drawn and see one of charities being a conduit between the haves and have-nots, of being stuck within the structures of society rather than challenging and forcing them to change, of not creating deep social change and only having a short lived impact.
At first glance it’s not a picture that I have heard Charity CEO describing of themselves, but maybe this needs a closer look as to just how true it is?