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A New Column On Social Entrepreneurship

Raj Melville

With this first issue of 2008, we are pleased to begin a new column in Lokvani focused on Social Entrepreneurship.

Social entrepreneurship is using business and entrepreneurial principles to address a social issue or challenge. Social entrepreneurs focus on the impact they make in solving a societal problem. They range from traditional non-profits to for-profit organizations, like Grameen’s micro-finance institution. In addition, new approaches to charitable giving have changed the way organizations address social issues. Apart from traditional philanthropies, newer sources of funds range from Venture Philanthropists, like New Profit that ‘invests’ in and manages social organizations, to socially responsible funds, like the Calvert Social Investment Foundation, that look for both social and financial returns. This is an exciting and growing area that impacts us locally as well as internationally. We hope this column will help educate, explain and engage you with these organizations that are doing exciting work around the world.

We will use this column to

•    Showcase both local and international organizations, like Pratham and Akshaya Patra that have built scalable organizations and are doing significant work impacting social issues.

•    Highlight new approaches to philanthropy and support that are changing the way people address major societal problems. Globally the impact of donors like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have radically changed the traditional models of philanthropic giving.  At a grass roots level, online forums like Kiva.org have enabled individuals to see the direct impact of their dollars on projects in developing countries.

•    Discuss new business ideas and models that are addressing key issues while providing both economic and social returns on their investments. The recent focus on micro-finance and its growth is just one of many such business ideas that are revolutionizing the social sector.

•    Present emerging ideas from the rich local pool of social entrepreneurial talent and enable the community to connect and support them. New England has become a hub for social entrepreneurship, attracting incredible talent and growing new ideas.

We look forward to hearing from you about interesting and innovative social entrepreneurs that you might have come across.

(Raj Melville has over 25 years of product management, marketing and consulting experience at several start-ups and larger organizations. He currently provides marketing and strategy consulting services to emerging non-profits and social entrepreneurs focused on building bottom of pyramid solutions. He is an active member of TIE Boston where he helped launch the Social Entrepreneurship SIG. He also initiated and co-chaired “ForSE 2007: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs” at Boston University. )

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1.An interesting social entrepreneurship venture January 11, 2008Prem Oscar 

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