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Entrepreneurs Promoting Social Value

Mark Marich

Kudos to BusinessWeek for getting the focus right, if not the label. It is looking for the 'most promising social entrepreneurs' in the U.S. – those who aim to both turn a profit and solve social problems.

Social entrepreneurship as a concept--using entrepreneurial skills and principles to solve "social" problems--continues to gain momentum. I have no problem with this. In fact, I'm fairly certain that nobody objects to innovative approaches to making our world a better place. However, there are far too many people willing to build an artificial wall between "social" entrepreneurs and what they consider "non-social" entrepreneurs. So who gets to decide where the dividing line falls along the profit spectrum? If alternative energy companies enjoy growing profits in the next few years because they bring innovative products and services to market that reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, are they social? Or are they money-hungry profit chasers? If a company creates jobs and wealth in a community by selling widgets, how are they judged?

It seems that BusinessWeek understands that you can 'make a difference' and 'make a profit' at the same time. It seeks nominations on for-profit companies based in the U.S. that are "tackling social problems in new and innovative ways here or abroad."

Do you know someone who fits that description? Nominate them. The call for nominations ends February 20, 2009.

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