Business is Good!

Trader Joe's Fair Trade Swiss Milk Chocolate

Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Swiss Milk Chocolate (Photo credit: cacaobug)

I’d like to thank Purnimodo for her fine post on Social Venturing. It was a wonderful, insightful addition to this blog.

Today the students in my econ class got to experience a little bit of growth. They had the privilege of meeting Jonathon and Quinn from Life Out of the Box through a Skype video conference (Go see what Jonathon and Quinn are up to at Jonathan and Quinn represent the very best of the new generation of socially conscious business entrepreneurs who develop businesses for the purpose of funding charitable activities all over the world. Life Out of the Box provides school supplies to impoverished children in Nicaragua. But Jonathon and Quinn have a vision of going global with their enterprise and I hope I can help them in some small way.

Jonathan and Quinn – Social/Business Entrepreneurs

In his 2001 article The Meaning of “Social Entrepreneurship,” Gregory Dees from Duke University wrote:

Any definition of social entrepreneurship should reflect the need for a substitute for the market discipline that works for business entrepreneurs. We cannot assume that market discipline will automatically weed out social ventures that are not effectively and efficiently utilizing resources. The following definition combines an emphasis on discipline and accountability with the notions of value creation taken from Say, innovation and change agents from Schumpeter, pursuit of opportunity from Drucker, and resourcefulness from Stevenson.

Dees goes on to develop a solid, working definition of social entrepreneurship as a subset of the general category “entrepreneurship.” If in general, an entrepreneur creates value, innovates, relentlessly pursues opportunity, and is extremely resourceful, a “social entrepreneur” applies those qualities to ventures which create social value or greater quality of life directly. On the other hand, a business entrepreneur might initiate ventures that improve the quality of life but as an indirect result of creating economic value, not as the primary mission of the enterprise.

What’s interesting about the rapidly growing model of socially responsible business entrepreneurship is its hybrid nature. It presents the challenges of creating economic value as well as social value from the same enterprise. What Jonathon and Quinn are doing is buying hand crafted goods from Nicaraguan artisans and developing a market for them in places like the U.S. which accomplishes the twin goals of creating increasing income streams to Nicaraguan communities as well as generating profits that can be used to supply Nicaraguan children with much needed school supplies. The success of the venture, Life Out of the Box, is measured against both the standards of social value and economic value, that is, they must meet the goals of improving quality of life while also being a profitable business. If anyone can make a venture like this successful, I believe it is these two wonderful people.

Socially responsible business occurs on a spectrum like most things. On one end are those businesses that simply try to be more environmentally responsible or give back a little value to the community. On the other end are those businesses like Life Out of the Box which have the primary mission of creating social value by creating economic value. In between are businesses developed to fund charitable activities to varying degrees without necessarily creating social value as integral to the business itself.

I hope that as students progress through our education system they will begin to see businesses like Life Out of the Box as a common way to use entrepreneurial talent. The impact on our world can be immense as capital flows to places previously starved of the means to develop businesses and markets to improve the quality of life.

Interested in socially responsible products? Go to Right now I’m shopping at OneHope wines which gives 50% of it’s profits to charity. The cabernet looks good. Or maybe a nice pinot noir…



10 Comments on “Business is Good!”

  1. cookiesrainandlove November 17, 2012 at 12:16 PM #

    What a wonderful thing to read 🙂 social enterprises are so meaningful..

  2. Robert-preneur November 17, 2012 at 7:20 PM #

    Yes they are! Thank you for stopping by.
    Warmth and Peace

  3. lifeoutofthebox November 19, 2012 at 11:07 PM #

    Wonderful Article Sir. Thank you very much. Also I love the website. There are some amazing products and stories on there.

    • Robert-preneur November 19, 2012 at 11:29 PM #

      Thank you very much and I hope to see your products in the Shop With Meaning mix.

  4. Purnimodo November 20, 2012 at 12:40 AM #

    (The fifth time WP ate my comment)… sigh) .. in short: Great, great post!! And I second you – the impact can be immense. We might not be able to reach the Millennium Goals by 2012 but in the long run I think social venturing will be the rule rather than the exception.

    • Robert-preneur November 20, 2012 at 6:58 PM #

      Go get ’em Purnima! I still think your Memory Forest is a great idea. I’ll buy your first tree!

  5. janrssor November 28, 2012 at 2:49 AM #

    Reblogged this on The Optimal HealthCare Group and commented:
    This is how to create a healthier world. You develop a business model that is based on trust. Think back to when you shook the hand of the man that grew your food. You knew he didn’t spray toxic pesticide on your food. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step!

    • Robert-preneur December 1, 2012 at 11:41 PM #

      Very true! Rachel Botsman has done a great job analyzing the new economics of trust. We are learning to humanize business. Thank you for your comment and for visiting!


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