Being altruistic isn’t enough to do social good – effective strategies and plans still need to be in place to achieve the best results
The new generation of entrepreneurs has a strong attraction to social entrepreneurship. It’s a way to feel the resonating impact of doing something good for the world while turning a profit.
But while the number of social entrepreneurs has grown rapidly in the past decade, their efforts are scattered and often fail to reach a critical mass. It’s not due to a lack of enthusiasm; they often simply forget to apply their private-sector knowledge to the nonprofit world.
A big part of fulfilling that mission comes from having an actionable plan. After all, any venture’s success hinges on being able to carefully define a realistic goal. I’ve given a lot of thought to this because I’m passionate about easing the heavy impact of chronic diseases around the world. But despite my gusto, I’m still just one person.
So I linked up with the Clinton Global Initiative. Right away, I was able to connect with people who are experienced in solving problems on a global scale. But more than that, I was exposed to its unique model, where people are driven by their commitment to action — a focussed, defined assignment that they develop strategies around.
And this has made all the difference.
1. Commit to action to change the world
As a social entrepreneur, you have to define your goals so you can realistically implement them. In my experience, good intentions (great intentions, in fact) that could change communities for the better are always there. But when ideas are too big or don’t address a specific enough need, good intentions just aren’t enough.
An action plan for either your social venture or an internal charitable project needs to be more than just a rubber stamp. You need rounds of analysis of the geographic region and its regulations to find the optimal solution. Take these four steps to get started:
2. Assess the need
You need to constantly evaluate what’s missing. Brainstorm different pain points from different communities across the globe. You might find that you’re passionate about poverty in India, or you might find that you’re passionate about helping your local homeless shelter.
Either way, make sure you’re validating your idea through data and research. The issue should be prevalent, the scope of the project should fall within your budget and energy level, and the community should be truly interested. My work has shown me that the Internet and the availability of information can often accomplish a large part of the mission.
3. Identify the cause of the problem
Now that you’ve figured out what is missing, you have to ask yourself why it’s missing. If there’s already a solution in place, why isn’t it working? Is it lacking a business or procedure to deliver the solution? Assessing where the problem stems from will uncover fitting solutions.
In my case, I knew that chronic diseases are the leading cause of death in the world, yet the current global response to the epidemic just isn’t cutting it. That’s when I knew I wanted to devote my time to this cause.
4. Understand the history
How has the problem been addressed before? Sometimes, opportunities are time-dependent. The historical record may suggest solutions that haven’t worked in the past but may work now or could be altered.
5. Forge healthy partnerships
Don’t underestimate strength in numbers. Make sure that you’re going to have enough support from the community to make the project viable. Creating a new system requires a strong alliance of talented individuals and businesses. By reaching out to community members — those who will benefit from the solution and have something to contribute — you’ll strengthen your social venture. There’s no doubt in my mind that pairing up with CGI was the right move. The organisation broadened my global vision and helped me understand how I could play a major role as a philanthropist.
As an entrepreneur, you’ve learned how to innovate and use whatever tools you need to succeed in the for-profit world. Bring those along on your journey to fostering a better planet. The ways you can make a difference are as numerous as the problems that need solutions.
Kevin Xu is the CEO of MEBO-International, a California and Beijing based intellectual property management company that focuses on the exploitation and management of the intangible assets regarding in situ regeneration in applied medical and health promotion systems (human body regenerative restoration science). They operate in over 73 countries and hospital networks worldwide, and are opening a whole new era of bio-economy.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organisation comprising the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship programme that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
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