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Social Entrepreneurship, New Media and Health Care

by Fred Fortin

Daniel Bornstein’s book on social entrepreneurs adds an important consideration to our look at how new media/internet (blogs, wiki media, citizen journalism, etc) that we’ve talked about (here, here, here and here) can improve the quality of health care in developing countries. Bornstein sees social entrepreneurs (Those who bring business and management skills for social ends) as “transformational forces”, people with a vision, fixed determination and an indomitable will; a critical part of the “global citizen sector” bringing social change to developing countries in ways not possible by governments or large corporations.

As he documents in his book, social entrepreneurs focus heavily of health and social welfare issues unaddressable by official or market forces: HIV, poverty, hunger, child neglect and abuse, for example. So here are a selected few of the lessons learned from successful programs that are worth thinking about:

  • Putting Children in Charge — Successful programs working with youth found ways to put them in charge of problem-solving and decision-making. This strategy helped create enthusiasm, develop skills and build confidence. The social entrepreneurs were all trying to do “one big thing: help children succeed in a world that was fundamentally different from the one in which their parents and grandparents had grown up.”
  • Enlisting “Barefoot” Professionals — Social entrepreneurs almost intuitively turned away from “professionally intensive models” to those that mobilize ordinary citizens to take on the problem. These pograms put problem-solving knowledge directly into the hands of families and community members.
  • Unleashing Resources in the Community You are Serving — With limited funds, social entrepreneurs have had to devise new creative ways to attack large scale problems using the energies and capabilities of the people within the local community.
  • Linking the Citizen, Government and Business Sectors for Comprehensive Solutions — Social entrepreneurs often pursue a “cross-sectoral strategy” to get what they want. They put together programs , campaigns, events, that are attractive or play to the ‘good corporate citizenship’ businesses as well as appealing to actions governments can take given the political and economic environment.

As I think is obvious from this brief description, social entrepreneurs and new media strategies go hand in hand. New media strategies can amplify the impact of these programs and individuals. Social entrepreneurs give meaning and purpose to new media activities. And both share many of the same public values important to health care development.


2 Comments »

[…] my complete post over at World Health care Blog. Posted in Globalization, New Media, […]

  Kesh Sandhu wrote @ August 17th, 2007 at 4:33 am

A social enterprise is a business that not only generates revenue, but also has a social and/or an environmental objective.

Social enterprises have the ability to impact the future of communities, and who better to create an impact through the social enterprise business model than our Youth of today?

That is why Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) is looking for youth under the age of 30years who own a social enterprise.

If you fit the criteria above, and your business uses various Information and Communications Technology (ICT) tools, such as mobile phones, the internet, and even the radio, we would love to hear from you.

If you would like to see a social enterprise in action, please click on to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-nP52Xbgxk

If you are a young social entrepreneur and would like to have access to tools such as mentoring, networking and even the possibility to pitch for funding, please log onto www.globalknowledge.org/ysecompetition07 and click on apply!

GKP will be selecting 100 winners from the competition, who will be judged by an independent online panel, to attend the Young Social Entrepreneurs’ Forum @ GK3 in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia!

Social entrepreneurs are defined by GKP as entrepreneurs who have a business that has a double or triple bottom line. This means the business has a financial bottom line and a social and/or environmental bottom line.

A financial bottom line means the business delivers on financial performance targets, i.e. at least half the income is earned through revenue from trading, rather than via donations, subsidies or grants. Typically, profits are reinvested back into the enterprise to further its social and/or environmental objectives. The financial performance is measured through revenue and profit-generation.

A social and/or environmental bottom line means that profits can be used to support social aims that are related or unrelated to the activities of the enterprise, or it can also support the social aims that are delivered directly by the enterprise’s operation. For example, the business may employ disadvantaged individuals or provide services that improve the lives of disadvantaged communities. The social and/or environmental performance is measured through accounting methods like SROI (Social Return on Investment) and/or through evaluation methods like Logframes.

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