This Week in Social Entrepreneurship

In our “This Week in Social Entrepreneurship” series, each Friday we will feature the top stories in Social Entrepreneurship for the week that we find to be noteworthy, novel, and thought-provoking.  What are your favorite stories this week in Social Entrepreneurship?  Let’s start a discussion!

  • So, you’re ready to make a difference—but how do you start?  What do you need to know when you are ready to become a social entrepreneur?  Inc. is ready to help you with your plan: 5 Moves to Get Started Now.  First and foremost, make sure you are seizing a real opportunity to create change with your business.  If there is no need for your service or product, there is no market.  Second, make sure the cause you are helping with your business is something you are passionate about.  Make sure the cost of helping your cause is accounted for in your cost of goods sold to ensure your business will be profitable.  Also, be reasonable about the cause you are helping—you might not be able to end world hunger through your business but you can make a huge impact within a smaller setting, i.e. your community, county, or state. Finally, keep your business model simple.
  • On January 3rd, at 9:30 a.m., the state of California officially began accepting filings for businesses to become Benefit Corporations.   Patagonia was the first company in California to officially file as a legal Benefit Corporation—eleven others followed the lead.  California joins five other states that now have this bill in effect, with New York to follow next month.  The law allows companies to remain mission driven—taking the environment, employees, and the planet into consideration as part of the decision making process, rather than just maximizing shareholder value.  Basically, it allows companies to consider all stakeholders, instead of legally obligating them to only consider shareholder benefits.
  • As demand rises for more socially driven business programs in colleges, schools are starting to listen.  The latest school to join the mix is Bard, just north of New York City.  Bard will start to offer a two-year M.B.A. program that focuses on sustainability and green business practices.  Higher education programs such as these are critical to the growth of social entrepreneurship.  They create awareness and a more regimented path to start careers in socially driven businesses for people that require more structure and prefer to learn through programs rather than on their own.  Different people thrive in different learning situations.  Some prefer to learn by doing.  Others need a classroom—a more structured setting.  The learners by doing are already out there doing. College programs for more structured learners will help grow this already blossoming field by adding a new group of changemakers to the mix.
  • Time is running out to submit your 2012 Echoing Green Fellowship application. Is your application ready?  Echoing Green just published a final checklist of what you should remember before your final submission.  Their advice is proofread many times over, make sure your application answers all aspects of the questions in the Application Guidance, don’t wait until the last minute because traffic will be high right before the deadline, and get your questions answered in the Fellowship Section or FAQ—if you need to contact someone, do it ASAP because, again, traffic is very high right before the deadline.  The deadline is January 9, 2012 at 12 pm EST.  Finally, make sure to let Echoing Green know on its Facebook page and Tweet using the hashtag #EG2012Fellowship once you submit your application.    
  • Join Connie Duckworth, founder of Arzu Studio Hope, on Social Edge as she discusses social business and how to compete with traditional business.  She raises the question—how can a small benefit corporation compete with large for-profit competitors with more resources?  How can a social business distinguish itself and its products from mass-marketed products?  How can it use social media effectively to market and build its brand without breaking the bank? Should it define success by scale or economic sustainability (and limit scale/scope)?  These are realities that all social businesses face and we need to foster an environment of collaboration and brainstorm the answers together.  Join the discussion—we can all benefit from what other changemakers have to say on this crucial topic.
  • Remember the IDEX Fellowship campaign on StartSomeGood?  The 2011-2012 IDEX Fellows were able to raise $3,725 on StartSomeGood to fund their fellowships.  Well, IDEX is now in the application process for the 2012-2013 cohort and, if you remember reading our interview with Tyler and Lyle, you know there are tons of great reasons to apply.  It’s a really tangible way for college graduates to gain experience in the field before setting out on their own.  Apply before January 15, 2012 to be considered for the 2012-2013 cohort.

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Social entrepreneurs, has all this great SocEnt news inspired you to start your own good?  Do you have a social enterprise, a non-profit, or an amazing idea that needs some momentum to take off?  Visit our site to find out how to start your own campaign today.  Still have questions?  We have answers—check out our FAQ section. 

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