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Social Entrepreneurship as a means towards bridging inequality

Recently at the In Good Company Conference, conference speaker Kerryn Krige of the Gordon Institue for Business told the audience of how she used to give a fixed donation every Monday, to a man who stood at an intersection on her way to work.

She realised that it was not the amount she gave which was of importance, but rather the predictability of the donation which allowed the man to plan ahead. He could choose what he would do with that money. The act of giving allowed her to enjoy a feeling of benevolence. It also highlighted her as a person of means while the man was not, so giving rise to a power dynamic.

This made her consider social giving in South Africa, a country of extreme social inequality. She asked herself the question,

“Why are we funding our social development through benevolence, when it actually perpetuates inequality and does not bridge it?”

— Kerryn Krige,Gordon Institute for Business

She further suggested that the opposite side of benevolence must be profit. This is not a word commonly used within charitable society as it is often associated with exploitation.

Yet by introducing the word profit into social change the previous beneficiaries become customers. They are given the choice of whether they engage with the goods or services on offer, depending on if they see worthwhile value there.

“This is the heart of social entrepreneurship, the heart of social change; a model that bridges the opposite spectrums of for-profit and not-for-profit,”

— Kerryn Krige,Gordon Institute for Business

Where for-profit entities generate economic value and bring in income because they earn it, the not-for-profit entities generate social value and bring in income because they ask for it. For social enterprises, our nations poor ranking in health, education and the global competitiveness index in addition to the lack of trust in our labour market, are seen as opportunities, because they feel driven to improve the society in which they find themselves. They are truly the power behind economic change.

What is it that we can learn from social entrepreneurs so that we can continue to fast-track and accelerate our social and economic development?

This top tip comes from Kerryn Krige’s talk which was first delivered at the Nation Builder In Good Company Conference on 15 August in Pretoria. Nation Builder is a platform that equips business leaders with resources and a community that helps them achieve the greatest possible positive impact in our country through effective social investment.

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