November 14th saw the latest in the Thunderbird/Laureate series with the Panel Discussion on The Future of Social Entrepreneurship. The Social Entrepreneurship Panel held some estimable guests such as Mr. Miguel Jardine ’09, Manager, Technology Commercialization, Arizona Commerce Authority, Mr. Aldo Ignacio Castillo, CEO and Founder, EcoLadrillos Universidad Tecnológica de México, Mr. Daniel Uribe, President, Costas Verdes Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, and Ms. Alicia Marseille, Business Analyst, Maricopa Small Business Development Center, Gateway Community College. The panel was moderated by Dr. Robert Hisrich, the Director of the Walker Center for Global Entrepreneurship at Thunderbird.
The panel session had a diverse array of speaker who primarily spoke of how to bridge the gap between for profit organizations and non-profit organizations when it comes to sustainable causes such as reforesting, agricultural issues, construction and beach conservation, sustainable coffee growing. A part of the discussion delved into the legal aspects on how to be an entrepreneur and integrating social causes into the fold at entrepreneurial organizations, with ‘b corp’ and ‘hybrid’ organizations at the focus of the discussion. They spoke of ‘B corp’ organizations tending to find social and sustainable causes very attractive for corporate social responsibility. An interesting point that all the panelists agreed on was the movement of towards the de-labelling of the term ‘social entrepreneurship’ and replacing it by entrepreneurship for social benefit. They also spoke of the strategy of success for entrepreneurs, covering the life lessons that get learned along the way with failure playing a key role in ensuring ultimate success. Emphasis was laid on how entreprenuers tend to be headstrong, particularly in when it comes to social entrepreneurship, causing a tunnel vision of sorts which lead to the need of having a strong support network as well as people that would poke holes in what entrepreneurs plan to do.
Speaking on social causes, they talked of how educating people about a social cause is tougher and more expensive than just marketing a social cause, with oftentimes comanies having to create a gimmick that appeals to people and telling them of the added benefit of a social good instead of promoting the social good directly. Curiously, the entire panel agreed that there still a glass ceiling for women, even in socially forward conutries like the US and all said that any business that did not have a woman on their board were setting themselves up for failure.
(Special thanks to Mohammed Abu Zeinab for input on this article)