You thought Salesforce were done with Social Enterprise

Take a look at JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist at Salesforce, who painstakingly  re-imagines social enterprise in his Confused of Calcutta blog.

Don’t be surprised to see Marc Beniof coming back with a new social set of credentials, some time soon.

More prominent is the work of Havas Media Labs and Umair Haque’s vision of a New Capitalism Manifesto,  in which Walmart is feted as an example of 21st century capitalism.

It’s been said that one way to prevent a revolution is to join it and alter the direction.  As I related recently , Walmart invests heavily against a living wage policy in the US and their pursuit of manafacturing in the developing world,  places workers at great risk.

It’s almost two years, since Harvard’s professors Porter and Kramer introduced us to ‘Creating Shared Value’ to reveal the true motivation when Mark Kramer suggested the corporations could profit from solving social problems.  I disagreed with that, to make the point that it was about “Profit for Purpose”, not “Profiting from a Purpose”

In an interesting question yesterday on the new Social Enterprises community on Google+ Priti Ambani asks an interesting question about distinguishing between social enterprise and cause marketing. Peter Burgess of True Value Metrics, put is like this:

“I would observe that there is a huge difference between Social Enterprise and Cause Marketing. I think of cause marketing as being a component of marketing with the enterprise behind the marketing remaining committed to the proposition that ‘anything goes’ as long as the profit goes up. In a true Social Enterprise, on the other, the core of the enterprise is to achieve some social good, and the for profit and cash generating activities are done in support of that core goal.”

A similar case can be made about social media marketing under the labels of social business and social enterprise. As P-CED founder Terry Hallman put it:

“The term “social enterprise” in the various but similar forms in which it is being used today — 2008 — refers to enterprises created specifically to help those people that traditional capitalism and for profit enterprise don’t address for the simple reason that poor or insufficiently affluent people haven’t enough money to be of concern or interest. Put another way, social enterprise aims specifically to help and assist people who fall through the cracks. Allowing that some people do not matter, as things are turning out, allows that other people do not matter and those cracks are widening to swallow up more and more people. Social enterprise is the first concerted effort in the Information Age to at least attempt to rectify that problem, if only because letting it get worse and worse threatens more and more of us. Growing numbers of people are coming to understand that “them” might equal “me.” Call it compassion, or call it enlightened and increasingly impassioned self-interest. Either way, we are all in this together, and we will each have to decide for ourselves what it means to ignore someone to death, or not. ”    

Meanwhile with the social enterprise equivalant of pointing out the “Emporers new clothes”, David Floyd leaves us to wonder how anyone could invest and hope to make a financial return in the US social enterprise market which seemingly costs 8 times more in subsidies than it produces in profit.

Profit of course, isn’t the primary motivation for social enterprise, if it creates jobs and addressess the problems of those who fall between the cracks.

With advocates of the Social Impact Bond claiming that by saving government money in tsckling social issues a return can be delivered to investors.  They will know that investing in social enterprise promises little return, so who’s going to take oin the job?

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