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It's about people, not profit

Many believe that entrepreneurship is about making money – the more the better. Yet there are a growing number of ...

By Pamela Hartigan . 01 December 2006

Many believe that entrepreneurship is about making money – the more the better.
Its about people not profitYet there are a growing number of entrepreneurs whose desire for money is to use it to transform society. What’s the most exciting field in business today? Pamela Hartigan thinks it’s social entrepreneurship.


Last September, Richard Branson made news headlines, yet again, with his pledge to donate $3 billion of his personal profits over the next decade, derived from the huge Virgin Group that he founded, toward the development of energy sources that don’t add to the problem of global warming. It was a grand gesture, from an entrepreneur and a company otherwise dedicated to for-profit endeavours.

What doesn’t make the news as much as it should are the many entrepreneurs whose work is aimed at progressive social transformation. These entrepreneurs may be less known than Mr Branson, but collectively they are making great strides while they also create a new form of business that deserves greater attention in business schools: social entrepreneurship.

Perhaps the best known social entrepreneur today is Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and 2006’s recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Professor Yunus has been a board member of the Swiss-based Schwab Foundation (http://www.schwabfound.org) since its inception seven years ago. The Foundation searches for the most innovative, effective and sustainable examples of social entrepreneurship around the world. What Schwab has found is a group of entrepreneurs who are changing their communities, if not the world, in dramatic ways. While, thanks to the Nobel Prize, Muhammad Yunus is increasingly widely known, too few people know about the work of so many other social entrepreneurs. Take David Green.

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