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Social Enterprise: Emerging Business Models & the Double Bottom Line

Calling all social intra/entrepreneurs! During the month of April 2012, Sustainable Life Media will be publishing a new “SB Issues in Focus” Editorial package, including daily features, interviews and case studies on the topic of “Social Enterprise: Emerging Business Models & the Double Bottom Line.”

Topic overview: Many observers are hailing social enterprise—defined for purposes of this issue as any businessundertaking with a dual social and financial bottom line—as a breakthrough approach to addressing the world’s pressing social and environmental issues. Yet social enterprise faces serious challenges of its own. It is an emerging field of activity with relatively few definitive best practices, the supportive ecosystem (financing, legal structures, etc.) is still nascent, and inside large corporations, social entrepreneurial (or, more exactly, social intrapreneurial) activity requires ongoing management buy-in—often no easy matter.

This month we are seeking input from practitioners and other experts about the inner and outer games of social enterprise. What are the emerging best practices and policies in social enterprise? What are the keys to success? What pitfalls (strategic and psychological) must be avoided? What special challenges are associated with doing social enterprise inside large organizations, and how can they be overcome?

As Guest Editors for the month, sustainable business author and serial social entrepreneur Carl Frankel and sustainable business strategist and social entrepreneur Tamara Giltsoff seek content to consider for publication as part of this package. This is a great opportunity to evolve this emerging field of practice by sharing your insights about the art and science of social enterprise.

Content Guidelines:

WHATWritten (and/or audio and/or video) perspective on topics such as:

Internal dimensions of social enterprise: Just as social enterprise is a hybrid activity that integrates social purpose with traditional business strategies (or—another way to put it—heart and head), so must social entrepreneurs blend these aspects of self internally. What does it take to be a great social entrepreneur? What special skillsets (or “psyche-sets”) are required? Please make your argument in the context of real-world examples, e.g., “This is what I learned during my time doing thus-and-so.” We invite articles about both “standard” social entrepreneurship, where entrepreneurs build an initiative from the ground up, and socialintrapreneurship, where employees are encouraged to pursue the social enterprise model within an established corporate context.

External dimensions of social enterprise: If there’s one thing social entrepreneurs must get skilled at, it’s making decisions, many of them mission-critical. We invite articles that examine critical decision points in the context of a case study. What are some of the foundational principles that allow one to decide well and wisely—and how did that prove out in your particular situation? What specific strategies are most effective vis-à-vis such issues as choosing the right organizational form, raising sufficient funding, and crafting an exit strategy that effectively preserves the social mission while securing a satisfactory departure for the founder and investors?

WHO: - Anyone with practical experience as a social entrepreneur, as well as thought leaders who are contributing to our overall understanding of the role, promise and unique challenges of social enterprise. 

HOW: Contact our editorial department with your proposed idea, theme or case study. Email our editors at editor@sustainablelifemedia.com

WHAT: Maximum 600 words

Judging Criteria for Content:

Our readers are entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs and business leaders and managers seeking information about how this new organizational kid on the block might affect their future business activities. They seek insights and ideas that can be applied across market sectors about how to integrate social enterprise principles and practices into their operations. We will evaluate your submissions based on currency of the example or idea presented, balance of perspective, strength of content, and delivered principles based on specific experience that might apply to a variety of markets or product sectors.

Where appropriate, contributions from authors providing specific insights will be given highest priority.

Kick-off questions for the month are the following:

  1. What are innovative financing strategies for social entrepreneurs?
  2. What guides the choice of organizational form? What difference does organizational form make in the ability to achieve one’s missions?
  3. What are the keys to successfully finding investors and/or managing investor relations?
  4. What are the pros and cons of self-financing a social enterprise?
  5. Cautionary tales—what blunders are commonplace, how did they affect your business, and how are they to be avoided?
  6. Intrapreneurship: how does one go about getting buy-in for social enterprise within a large organization? And how does one maintain it?
  7. How do you define social enterprise? What are the implications of this definition for practitioners?
  8. Gap analysis: how does the social enterprise ecosystem need to change in order to significantly improve individual social entrepreneurs’ likelihood of success? What market opportunities does this create?
  9. What specific leadership skills are especially required for social enterprise, and how do they manifest?
  10. What innovative exit strategies are likeliest to both preserve the social mission and secure a financially and emotionally satisfactory departure for both the founder and investors?

Please Submit: A fully finished piece, or an OVERVIEW (one paragraph to one page) of your proposed piece for consideration. If selected by the Guest Editors and Sustainable Life Media, the full feature will be due 1 week before publish date. The feature or interview will be published during April 2012.

Thank you,

Thomas Miner
Executive Producer, Sustainable Life Media
tminer@sustainablelifemedia.com


An operations professional dedicated to developing competitive advantage through sustainable business strategies, Thomas’ specialties lie in driving operational efficiencies and project management. His experience ranges through a variety of industries including agriculture, renewable energies and online media. Professionally, his passions… [Read more about Thomas Miner]


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