Tag Archives: social entreprenuer

Social Entrepreneurship: Redefining Your Career – by Ray Dinning, social venture attorney

In a recent lecture series on defining “authentic manhood” and a man’s role in society today, the following four factors were discussed as critical in our modern world (which seem frankly to me to be applicable to both men and women in our society) and so I think these characteristics apply to us all:

1.  Reject Passivity – Get Involved in any issue or cause you feel strongly about;

2.  Accept Responsibility – If no one else will do it, then you must take responsibility and act;

3.  Live Courageously – Nothing ventured – nothing gained;

4.  Invest your time and resources for the future – Think about other, future generations and being a wise steward with the talents, resources and time we have on this Earth.

In reviewing these characteristics, it seems that the macho image of the male role model is being replaced by a kinder, more socially-minded modern day man – the social entrepreneur.  Take the following excerpt from an article written on Dr. Mohammed Yunus:

Below is taken from http://www.bankingonthepoor.blogspot.com

Dr. Muhammad Yunus kicked-off the Commonwealth Club’s series of talks on social entrepreneurship today in a speech at the Fairmont Hotel. The event doubled as a book signing for his new work, “Building Social Business—The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs.” Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank, the institution he founded in 1976 to provide credit to poor women in Bangladesh, were co-recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for their work in developing microfinance.

In his speech Dr. Yunus traced the evolution of his thinking from the founding of Grameen Bank to his present passion for promoting social businesses that serve the poor. In 1974, while teaching economics in Chittagong University, he observed first hand the effects of a devastating famine on the poor of Bangladesh. He realized the elegant economic theories he had studied were next to useless for these people.

Venturing outside the gates of the university he began to learn of the underlying problems afflicting the poor, locking them in a cycle of poverty. Principally, he realized their lack of access to reasonable credit kept them in the clutches of the money lenders. With the equivalent of a mere $27 he was able to break this cycle of exploitation for 42 women. If he could do so much for so little Dr. Yunus wondered why banks shouldn’t be able to do much more for the poor?

Unable to convince the established banks that the poor were indeed “credit worthy” and would not only pay back their loans but also use them to lift themselves and their families out of extreme poverty, he founded Grameen Bank. Today the bank has over 8 million clients, 97% of whom are women, 2,600 branches and over 20,000 employees. The bank lends more that $100 million per month and experiences a 98% repayment rate on its loans. “Compare this performance to that of the big banks during the current economic crisis and tell me who is credit worthy,” Dr. Yunus said.

Lack of credit was not the only problem he uncovered. Lack of sanitation, health care, access to information, education, nutrition were among the many issues Dr. Yunus saw affecting the poor. “When I see a problem I create a business to address it” he stated. But the form of the businesses he creates is different from the normal for-profit companies. Social enterprises are enterprises either owned by the poor or have been funded by social entrepreneurs willing to forgo a monetary return on their investments.

As discussed in his new book, social business have dual “bottom lines” one social and the other economic. They operate as for-profit businesses to ensure their sustainability, but forego an economic return in order to achieve a social impact. He cited Grameen’s collaboration with the French company Danone to produce a special yogurt product for malnourished children in Bangladesh as an example of such a social business.

And now Dr. Yunus brings his poverty fighting philosophy to the United States. Since January of 2008, Grameen America has opened three branches in New York and one in Omaha, Nebraska, to serve the needs of poor entrepreneurs. Employing the same group lending methodology pioneered by Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, Grameen America has already lent to more than 3,000 low income small business owners in the United States with the same 98% repayment record. He announced that Grameen America will open a branch in San Francisco this summer.

The poor did not create the conditions that trap them in a cycle of poverty, nor are they to blame for the many crises, financial, environmental and social that threaten the world today. That is the fault of systems predicated on economic theories that view humankind as motivated purely by profit and self interest. There is, according to Dr. Yunus, another side to human nature, a selfless side that rushes to help when disaster strikes. Build businesses that appeal to the selfless side of human nature and he believes we will find solutions to the problems that keep more than 2 billion people in extreme poverty.”

I, for one, am interested in living a courageous and socially-minded life, dedicated to helping others and the poor in Africa and elsewhere around the world.  To many, it may be an unwise or futile exercise.  To me, I would rather be planting organic Moringa trees in Africa to help fight malnutrition or creating micro enterprise opportunities for those in need or using my time, talents and resources to help others in our World.  This may invoke criticism from the narrow-minded, but guess what – social entrepreneurship is here to stay.  You can stick your head in the sand of passivity and inaction, or you can live a courageous life helping others and making our Earth a better place.

Besides, all those socially-minded MBAs graduating from prestigious universities such as Harvard, Columbia, Cambridge with degrees specializing in Social Entrepreneurship and others around the world cannot be wrong – see http://www.good.is/post/are-mbas-ditching-investment-banking-for-social-entrepreneurship/


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Forbes reports Top Five Investment Opportunities in Africa for 2012 by Ray Dinning

See http://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2011/12/28/top-5-investment-opportunities-in-africa-for-2012/

Forbes reports:

“African economies easily rank among the most resilient in the world. In the middle of the 2009 global economic recession, Africa was the only region apart from Asia that grew positively, at about 2%. The continent’s growth has been on an upward trajectory ever since then- 4.5% in 2010 and 5.0% in 2011.

And it will get even better in 2012. Africa is favorably positioned to become the 2nd fastest growing region in the world, and according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), economic growth across the 54 countries of the continent will hover around 6% in 2012.

Africa is becoming an increasingly attractive hub for foreign investors in light of various economic, political and social reforms that are sweeping through the continent, resulting in a much improved business environment conducive for foreign direct investment. Apart from that, there is widespread development of critical social and physical infrastructure, and there is an increasing pool of well-educated, English-speaking, enterprising workers in most countries across the continent.”




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The SVX – Toronto’s Social Venture Exchange by Ray Dinning, JD, LLM and social venture lawyer

The Toronto Social Venture Exchange (www.thesvx.org) may have the potential to provide social venture capital to a much larger, global market.  Patterned after the successful Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), the SVX is designed to attached investors into selected social venture projects in a stock exchange format.  The SVX, therefore, has the opportunity to attract social venture capital from a  worldwide social investor pool to be “invested” into social ventures worldwide.  Insiders at the SVX stated that “the SVX should be launched formally in May, 2012.”

Founded as a collaborative effort by Adam Spence and socially-minded Toronto professional firms and companies, the SVX is a excellent concept that could shape the formation of future social venture exchanges on a worldwide basis.  With the advent of  the B Corporation (social benefit corporation) and similar business/social business entity structures, a social stock exchange could also be envisioned in the future.

These are all excellent ideas that will evolve over the next two years into what could be the future of social venture capital – let’s get past angel investors and micro lending and into the world financial markets – to create worldwide social change through social entrepreneurship, social ventures and transformational change.

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Social Venture Due Diligence – The Acumen Fund’s BACO Analysis by Ray Dinning, JD, LLM,

The Acumen Fund has developed a rigorous, yet effective due diligence tool to measure the cost of capital between social venture funding available.  BACO is “best available charitable option” where “the point of the analysis is to inform our portfolio decision-making with a quantifiable indication of whether our social investment will “outperform” a plausible alternative.”

While the Acumen Fund has garnered acclaim, new social innovators such as the Toronto Social Venture Exchange (www.thesvx.org) may have the potential to provide social venture capital to a much larger, global market.  Patterned after the successful Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), the SVX is designed to attached investors into selected social venture projects in a stock exchange format.  The SVX, therefore, has the opportunity to attract social venture capital from a  worldwide social investor pool to be “invested” into social ventures worldwide.  Insiders at the SVX stated that “the SVX should be launched formally in May, 2012.”

The SVX is one social venture capital project to watch closely in 2012.


BACO Concept Paper final_B1cNOVEM

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Vic Wilkens and his vision for Sustainable Tourism in Africa

Vic Wilkens is a hard-working visionary with a passion for wildlife protection and safari game viewing in Africa. He also has a heart for social entrepreneurship and sustainable community development.  With over 43 years of experience in the most successful safari tourism areas in Africa, Vic is now marrying his love of the bush in Africa with his vision for community-based sustainable tourism.

The end result is The Xplorer Club – a safari country club that plans to have over fifty (50) safari properties for the exclusive use of the Members of The Xplorer Club in the most exciting safari destinations in Africa including:  The South Luangwa National Park, The Kruger National Park, the Timbavati Private Game Reserve in South Africa and much more.

Please see http://www.xplorerclub.com for more information on this sustainable community tourism social venture.

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Moringa Production as a sustainable agricultural model by Ray Dinning, social venture lawyer

In March/April, 2012, I had the opportunity to work with and interview the agricultural social entrepreneurs in the sustainable farming model for Moringa Production in Africa.  The social entrepreneurs at IRDI, a Zambian-based NGO which helps local communities reach the proverbial first rung of the economic ladder to sustainability through Moringa (superfood) production.  Hailed as one of  the most nutritious super foods in the world, Moringa production can aid in fighting malnutrition and other ailments in Africa while providing an economic windfall to rural communities.

IRDI spokesperson, Jacqui Wintle, introduced me to local schoolchildren, rural communities and farmers who were creating sustainability in their sphere of influence with Moringa farming.  This is truly one sustainable agricultural model and product that can aid Africa now and in the future.


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Emergent University or EmergentU – A practical, social experience and interview by Ray Dinning, JD, LLM (taxation)

Having the opportunity to meet with and interview Professor Bert van Lamoen, social architect and Emergence Theory visionary in Amsterdam in March, 2012, I began to understand the driving force behind social entrepreneurship, education and emergence.  As a visionary social architect, Professor van Lamoen is an affable and approachable intellectual who openly discusses the transformational changes taking place in the world today.  Emergent University or EmergentU is one of those transformational educational concepts that is fast becoming a reality.  As a planned post-graduate, practical and social incubator of social entrepreneurship and emergence, EmergentU plans a practical, socially-minded campus in the heart of Africa – the South Luangwa Valley in Zambia.

Its goal is to provide today’s social entrepreneurs with practical, open-source lectures from around the world along with one-on-one training with international professors in a relaxed, private wildlife and nature reserve setting.  Students can then practice what they learn in the field – from wildlife protection, environmental management, cultural studies and social entrepreneurship, leadership training, agriculture and aquaculture and more – with hands-on projects that make a positive impact on the rural communities and cultures in Africa.

This is a truly revolutionary and transformational educational model providing students with practical education with hands-on experience.  Students then leave EmergentU after one semester with a Program Certificate and three months of social architecture or social entrepreneurship experience.

Taken from the http://www.ImagineZambia.org website:

“Emergent U / Postgraduate program
The best education for the world – Knowledge Connecting The World

by Dean/Head Coach Professor Bert van Lamoen

35 years ago I was part of an educational innovation that took place in Switzerland. It was a fulltime Master’s Degree program for creating entrepreneurial change agents, supported by many star professors from all over the world. The first European initiative in holistic action learning – a real forerunner.

Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, and standing on their shoulders, we proudly present a follow-up.

Again we challenge the educational establishment by creating totally flexible, no-nonsense, real-world, (online/offline) programs that offer you academic freedom: the power to totally control how, where, when and what you will learn.

Emergent U is a business school, but done in real time. It’s not a business school with ivy covered walls, where people come. Rather, Emergent U goes to the entrepreneurs.

Our programs are:

focused on learning-by-doing by creating entrepreneurial partnerships;
emergent-based; and
learner centered – everyone must take charge of it’s own learning.
Our coaches/tutors/professors will work with you one-on-one to help you design and complete your custom program.

And we are the first Business School that uses all the advantages of barter and complementary currencies.

We strongly believe that entrepreneurship will transform the society. Entrepreneurship is the driving force for creating a better world and the company is a tool that is used to actualise one’s personal vision, mission and dreams.

Entrepreneurial learning is faster and more effective by designing flat, non-hierarchical structures like communities and relational networks: we call them KINO’s – Knowledge Intensive Network Organisations.

We all live in a time of unprecedented change throughout the world from a complete upheaval in the former communist bloc nations to a number of new economic and political alliances in the form of the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), NEPAD Africa, ASEAN and WTO China and Vietnam.

The development of a new world order has brought into existence many new organizational challenges and opportunities.

With the rapid development of information, and other, technology a networking world is emerging. A truly global village is becoming part of reality. Every company in today’s market must face and adapt to the context of a new economy, which is characterized by globalisation, interrelatedness, complexity, and the importance of knowledge.

More than ever before managers are being challenged to create new organizations and to rethink the ways in which we structure those organizations.

The conventional approach, based on the assumption that the world is predictable and controllable, is no longer appropriate.

We have entered an age of uncertainty, one that contains the seeds of both opportunity and potential disaster.

The challenge is how to exploit the opportunities. A different approach is necessary.

Our coaching/consultancy/education and organizational development programs concentrate on:

The facilitation of Knowledge Intensive Network Organizations (KINO’s);
The integration of education, work and real-life, practical experience;
Emergent U is truly a work in progress.

Emergent U”


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