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On Entrepreneurs, Entredonneurs, and Benepreneurs

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
9th September 2013


The etymology of words is important as it reveals unconscious understandings. Prince means the ‘the one who takes first’, enterpreneurs are ‘those who take in between’. Does the concept of ‘social enterpreneurship’ then mean: one that takes in between for the social, or ‘one that takes in between from the social’?

Changing the language we use is extremely difficult because adoption is largely an organic process. But it may be worth trying!

Here are two examples of alternative propositions:

* The concept of Benepreneur was recently proposed by  Layne Hartsell:

“Benepreneur (n) – is an individual who organizes and operates projects such as a business, NGO or other, taking on risk to do so as a for-benefit endeavor. [cross reference: social, global justice]

Bene – etymology: Latin: good, bonus. Old English: request, petition

preneur – etymology: Latin: prendre. ‘one who takes..’

meaning: one who takes risk for the benefit of society ; essential meaning: innovators.”

An earlier attempt has been that of “Entredonneur”:

Entredonneur = concept meaning ‘giving to the in between’, proposed to balance the concept of Entrepreneur which means ‘taking from in between’ and has therefore a predatory significance

“The entredonneur is a ‘creative giver’

My term ‘entredonneur’ (Wood, 1990) was not intended as a direct criticism of ‘enterprise’ itself

Nevertheless, offers an invaluable practical counterpoint to it

The most extreme idea of ‘taking’ is as unlikely as an extreme idea of pure ‘giving’

However, by placing the two at opposite ends of a continuum we are better able to map the transition from one to the other

It may help us to identify how business, and other modes of enterprise, might be re-envisioned

It implies a less wasteful mode of living within an (inevitable) solar economy

In theory, at the macro level, tendencies to ‘pure greed’ may balance the will to ‘pure altruism’

With better mapping techniques we might be able to replace this struggle with a reciprocal form of altruism.”

Original source from Wood, J., (1990), “COMMENT: The Socially Responsible Designer”, Design Magazine, July 1990

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