Category Archives: creative capitalism

On CK Prahalad and his impact on social entrepreneurship

I, like many others, was saddened to hear of the untimely passing away of Prof. C. K. Prahalad. His career spanned over three decades during which time he introduced several innovative business ideas that quickly became mainstream. He was one of the first to identify ‘core competencies’ of a business and relate it to a company’s competitive advantage. His next book introduced the concept of ‘co-creation’ where corporations engaged their customers in creating joint value. It influenced many of the approaches used by companies in the 2000s to get their customers to co-design products.

Perhaps his most widely influential work was his last book on “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through profits”. In it he outlined his take on how corporations could profitably service the very large market that consists of the bottommost economic strata. While the affluent tip of the global economic pyramid consists of less than 100 million people who make over $20,000 a year, there are over 2 to 2.5 Billion people who live on less than $2 a day. Yet these markets at the bottom of the economic pyramid also have needs and wants. By properly designing products and delivery mechanisms to satisfy this segment of the consumer population, he showed how companies could make money while helping this social segment.

His Bottom of the Pyramid or BOP approach quickly caught on and today a range of multinationals are focused on creating solutions that are targeting this market segment. Examples of these include Hindustan Lever, Godrej and GE Healthcare. His philosophy that even the poorest segment had a real market need and were a viable market has helped redirect corporate strategies and will have significant impact across the globe.

CK Prahalad has been honored for his work around the world including most recently being awarded the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian honors, by the Indian Government. The world will miss this strategic thinker but his legacy will continue to improve the quality of life for millions subsisting at the bottom of the pyramid. 

You can read an earlier piece I wrote about his work on my blog at “Designing for the bottom of the pyramid”.

Advertisements

Valuing Social Enterprises

Panel Description for ForSE 2009

As a number of young entrepreneurs launch their social enterprises, one of the areas they all struggle with is attracting socially conscious investors. A challenge for all is how to evaluate a social focused business on metrics other than strict return on investment. A number of innovative organizations have tackled this problem from different perspectives, developing alternate metrics, scorecards and criteria that weigh the benefits from an investment beyond cold dollars and cents. The panelists, all significant actors in this arena, either invest or provide access to social investors and will highlight several interesting approaches that funders use in evaluating social investments.

Panelists

Moderator

  • Prof. John Whitman, Professor, Babson College

Register for ForSE 2009 before rates go up!

ForSE 2009: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs on Oct 23 at Babson College

Once again we are holding our annual conference on Social Entrepreneurship – ForSE 2009: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs on Friday October 23. This time we are working together with Babson College’s Net Impact Undergrad organization to host it at Olin Hall on Babson College’s lovely Wellesley campus.

We also have a number of interesting panels and speakers and, for the first time, a Pitch contest that will allow emerging social entrepreneurs to wow a panel of seasoned judges.

The forum brings together social innovators, leading business professionals, investors, donors, academics, and students to help share new technology and business ideas that have significant social impact.

If you are interested in meeting emerging social entrepreneurs, hearing of innovative ideas for social impact and supporting young innovators as they launch their concepts, this is the event to attend. If you are an aspiring social entrepreneur, this is your chance to pitch your idea at the pitch contest and to wow a panel of seasoned judges.

This years keynoters will include Pamela Hawley who was a co-founder of Volunteer Match, one of the earliest online volunteer matching sites, and who later founded and currently runs UniveralGiving.org, an online site that channels donations and volunteer hours to non-profits around the world; Leonard Schlesinger, President of Babson College, one of the leaders in entrepreneurship; Andre Porter, Executive Director of Massachusetts’ Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Carol Cone, Founder and Chairperson of Cone LLC, an innovator in Cause Branding and CSR programs for corporations.

We have tried to keep ForSE very affordable for our attendees, many of whom are students or starting non-profits and social entrepreneurs. The registration fee for attendees is nominal ($20 for students /$35 for affiliates of BU and TIE /$/75 for all others) for a full day conference including meals. However these discounted fees will only be available only until October 19th.

I urge you to sign up as soon as possible as the past two years we sold out days before the event and many were disappointed. We try to make the event as interactive and intimate as possible and keep total attendance capped to 250. If you are interested in attending I would encourage you to register soon. The fees will go up substantially after October 19th.

Click here for more info and to register.

Get engaged in Charitable giving

I wrote an article recently on how Indian Americans can take a step towards increasing charitable giving. Equally applicable even if you are not an Indian American 🙂
I have reproduced the entire article below. Can be found on line at India New England News.

How Indian Americans can get engaged in charitable giving

India has a rich tradition of supporting public works, arts and architecture throughout its history and culture. From time immemorial the Rishis of the Upanishads have exhorted their disciples to engage in charity, to give according to their wealth with faith and humility. Over two thousand years ago the Emperor Ashoka undertook immense public works projects ranging from rest houses for pilgrims to hospitals and universities. In later times rulers like Emperor Akbar patronized the arts and architecture and were instrumental in building striking monuments that still stand as testimony to their largesse. In the South, the Vijaynagar Empire helped lift Kannada and Telugu literature to new heights and encouraged Carnatic music. Continue reading