The video clip above is what comes to mind after a bit of reflection. Thanks to Alan, Bill and 30+ others, I have not only fonder thoughts for Brown University, but food for thought. The course ENGN 1930, aka Social Entrepreneurship, asks students to provide brief, written reflections on class sessions, readings, etc. In my session with them, I started by sharing my experience completing a PhD and moving to Costa Rica in the mid-1990s. I then described the process of learning from both public sector leaders and entrepreneurs there, and eventually forming a company that practices entrepreneurial conservation.
The gist of several of the “takeaways” from students is the reasonable question that I am chewing over now: are the Raxa Collective initiatives examples of social entrepreneurship? Is La Paz Group practicing social entrepreneurship? The snarky, if partially true reply would have been that I do not care all that much what it is called.
The reason not to be snarky (besides good manners) is the same reason why that reply is not even close to true. What I know of social entrepreneurship, I definitely want to support; to try living up to its ideals. If I could only know what those were in all the various definitions and interpretations I have come across. In that video I am reminded of being with a group of Columbia MBA students in Patagonia last year. They were determined to learn and practice what Ashoka has provided as criteria (if not definition) for social entrepreneurship. They were in Patagonia to assist this organization in accomplishing its objectives, which in turn has Ashoka DNA.
Spending time with all of them does not qualify me for anything, but it was a demonstration to me that I do in fact care about social entrepreneurship–how it is defined, practiced etc. And I care about that whether my organization practices it or not; whether we practice it well or not; whether we succeed or fail at it. That is enough of a takeaway, on its own, for those 80 minutes to be considered well spent on my part. Thanks Brown!