Cause Global reports on the charge of elitism against social enterprise funding and control.
“There’s a growing debate in the social enterprise world, not only about who’s a social entrepreneur but about who’s being left out of the club.
True, the exceptions and misconceptions abound, but the debate settles around two main points — that unless you’re a Caucasian and unless you’re an MBA, it’s tougher to get support for your good work trying to start a social enterprise.
Is that fair? Consider the arguments. The first point being raised by some across the sector is that MBAs seem to be preferred by social ventures and the foundations willing to fund aspiring social entrepreneurs. Employers, the argument goes, also seem to prefer MBAs, but the truth is that not everyone who can make a difference or start a social enterprise can afford business school—nor think they should have to get an MBA in order to get funding to develop their ideas. “I have no MBA nor do I want one,” says Martin Montero, the founder of Austin Social Innovation Fund. Montero tweeted me the other day in response to one of my queries about a story in today’s Wall Street Journal Online that cites the surge of interest by business school students in “socially-responsible money-making.” The article also notes how business schools are being pushed to create a whole host of courses and study tracks to help MBA students sort out the best way to build companies that both make money and help to solve social problems. Montero and others, including a number of Justmeans community members who messaged me earlier this week, said the fuss over socially-minded MBAs tends to leave out a great deal of people who are not in business school but who already have been making a big difference in the sector. ” We most definitely need more non-MBA social entrepreneurs,” Montero wrote.
A second point I keep hearing is that the developing world is, more or less, being left out of the conversation. Justmeans.com community member Gerard Ww, in a comment responding to my introductory column as social enterprise editor of Justmeans, said that “no company, organization, or individuals (seems) willing to really get their hands truly dirty side-by-side with us (those people at the bottom of the pyramid) while trying to help the BoP!” Describing himself as one of the billions at the bottom of the pyramid, he said that “we are never included in the [potential] interventions; it’s always the so-called academics and ‘successful’ business persons who dictate terms and conditions. Too few of us will ever be helped by the continued exclusion, but who else knows the conditions [at the bottom of the pyramid] better” than the people who live there?”