Social enterprise a tool to meet future’s uncertainty

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Trivaris CEO Mark Chamberlain proposes organization can lead the way in community change
Tuesday June 19, 2012 — Michelle Strutzenberger

The only thing we know for certain is that the future is completely unpredictable — and social enterprise can be a tool to meet that uncertainty with resiliency.

This was a key message from Mark Chamberlain, CEO of the commercialization firm Trivaris, in his presentation at a one-day social enterprise speakers event in Hamilton, Ont. last week.

To create resiliency, we need the highest level of human-capital development and the lowest impact on environmental damage, Mark noted. Both of these are integral to social enterprise in general.

While ideally all organizations would be “social enterprises” in the sense of being committed to creating necessary social and environmental change as their core business offering, we aren’t quite there as a society.

But social enterprises as they are typically defined, can lead the way — as they have been doing, said Mark.

They can continue to “speak the language” that’s required for all organizations to be thinking, not just about corporate social responsibility, for instance, but what is the broad-based mission an organization can live into that will not only bring financial return but also social and/or environmental impact?

Mark was adamant about the importance of having this larger aspiration ever in front of any organization, including social enterprise; to rally around the change, and less so around the organization created to ignite the change.

“Don’t think of your enterprises as entities that will be there forever; make your focus  the change you’re trying to create,” said Mark, adding sometimes one of the most effective moves for an organization is to end itself.

“That’s not failure. That’s saying, we did our job; what do we now,” said Mark.

Mark offered a number of insights for start-up social enterprises, amongst these inviting them to avoid isolation, including from for-profit organizations. He noted it’s in the intersection of diverse groups that innovation is more likely.

He also recommended “shameless” copying of good ideas, seeking early adopters (children are ideal, he said) and looking at connections, possibly with for-profits, to take a social innovation — not necessarily the enterprise — to scale.

For a related story, click here.

Feel free to comment below, or e-mail michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.

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