Tuesday, June 27, 2006


In an HBS Working Knowledge Interview, Jed Emerson talks about the need for management expertise in running nonprofits that can effectively bring about positive change. The article also examines such traditional issues relating to entrepreneurship as risk, competition, and accountability.

Emerson highlights a topic close to my heart: raising funding for creating the managerial and operational infrastructure for non-profits. Since funding for management and operations of most non-profits is deemed as money diverted away from "the cause," non-profits find it difficult to attract talent and build sustainable ventures that do not have to depend on survival based on grants. That reality alone is enough to motivate social entrepreneurs to consider sources of renvenue other than just grants.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Green Banking

Yesterday, I was introduced to RecycleBank in Philadelphia.

This fascinating social enterprise offers an incentive system for households who recycle.

Using special recycle bins, RecycleBank identifies the amount of waste generated by a household during recycling pick-up. The amount of the recycables automatically translates to a credit on your account. As you accumulate credit, you receive reward coupons from retailers such as Starbucks and Whole Foods.

I'm enthralled with the idea of "Incentive Based Recycling" - motivating people to do good (and well!) by offering them rewards.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Take Action!

Practical Action, a not-for-profit originally founded by economist EF Schumacher to combat poverty, offers many resources for social entrepreneurs seeking to make a positive (and practical!) impact in poverty alleviation.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What's in a Name?

I realized today that I am still struggling with the definition of social entrepreneurship.

A few weeks ago, a fellow graduate student pointed out that by defining a social entrepreneur as someone with a mandate to make the world a better place as well as generating revenues, I was inviting interpretation of "making the world a better place."

For example, innovation in weapons for the defence of democracy could be seen as a positive social innovation.

I am thus struggling with the definition. Maybe I could broaden the understanding of "the world" in a more universal way; that is, saying that the social entrepreneur must not harm any others.

However, what of medicines that draw on scarce natural resources to heal millions of people from a disease?

I know I have not yet arrived at a definition that satisfies me.

I did, however, find helpful the Institute of Social Entrepreneurs' glossary.

Friday, June 02, 2006

NGOs working with the UN

If you run an NGO and are interested in working with the UN, a great place to start is the UN NGLS (Non-Governmental Liaison Service).