This may sound like one of those blog posts I’ve completely fabricated, but it’s true.
As of last Thursday, a few people in Ireland believe I’m the Western Hemisphere’s foremost expert on social entrepreneurship.
What happened is I gave a webinar for Dublin City University about “Social Enterprise Startups in Chicago,” because a professor there named Sean Donnelly saw my article in Technori last month and invited me to speak to the students in his Social Entrepreneurship module.
My first reaction was—is he flying me to Ireland? (Hey, you never know.)
My next reaction was—me? Really? Most of the people I interviewed for the article were probably better qualified to give this webinar than me. Not to mention any number in Silicon Valley or the Eurozone.
But seeing as how I didn’t have a full-time job or anything else monopolizing my time, I said yes.
First off, I wanted to make sure I didn’t bore anyone with material they’d already heard, so I looked over their curriculum and made a startling discovery—their concept of social entrepreneurship was completely different from ours.
Donnelly explained, “Many of them work in organisations with a social mission and until quite recently most of these organisations would have survived on government money and large corporate donations. Part of the reason they are doing this course is to start looking at their organisation in enterprise terms which I know some people have found difficult to adjust to.”
Their case studies so far had been STRIVE, a New York-based workforce development agency, and the Harbus, the student newspaper of the Harvard Business School—both non-profits.
So the main thing I had to do was clarify what we call a social enterprise on this side of the pond—a company that earns revenues and even (gasp!) profits from goods or services that create a social benefit.
As examples I described Chicago startups GiveForward, Collaborative Group, and of course Kauzu. The handful of students participating live (I was told many more would watch the recording) had a hard time grasping that these companies take no donations or public funds whatsoever. One asked what percentage of its revenues a business had to earn to qualify as a social enterprise. A hundred percent, I said.
I think that drove the point home.
Anyway, I think the session was well-received, and I hope I did Chicago proud. And now that I’m an internationally recognized speaker, I’m making my services available to business schools worldwide. Particularly those with travel budgets in warm climates.
*Roughly, “Do you believe that?”