The opening keynote to the 10th annual HBS Social Enterprise Conference was a truly inspirational presentation by Linda Rottenberg from Endeavor, Inc. Endeavor helps mentor and grow entrepreneurs in developing countries. It has screened over 18000 candidates and selected 400 entrepreneurs, who have generated over 86,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in revenue.
Linda traced the arc of social entrepreneurship as it accelerated over the past decade from an idea to formally becoming a key movement. Here are some of my notes from the session.
She pointed out that the long path was facilitated with three key developments.
- When Bono became the symbol for AIDS in Africa with his RED Campaign, he made social activism cool
- When Prof Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace prize, he instantly became the visible leader from within the field.
- When Bill Gates went beyond establishing his foundation and stepped down from Microsoft to focus exclusively on his philanthropic work and presented his vision of Creative Capitalism, he made social entrepreneurship mainstream.
It is clear that government cannot solve all social problems. Businesses on the other hand are not always there to fill in the gaps. This is where social entrepreneurs come in. Continue reading