Why Social Entrepreneurship Is Not Enough

The term “social enterprise” is far too limiting, says Laurence Brahm.

“Why shouldn’t business be profitable?”

Rightly so, it should, he says.  But the aim of business has to be so much more than just profit.  It has to solve problems, he goes on to explain.  He’s referring to big global problems like the environment, food security, poverty, inequity.

Brahm is a lawyer turned activist.  His CV is far too long to detail all his achievements but can be succinctly described as a lawyer who built a fruitful entrepreneurial career and in the process, got absorbed into policy, even serving as a member of the UN Theme Group on Poverty and Inequality.  Most interestingly, though, he’s an American who has been advising the Chinese government on how to do growth differently — not the American model.

In the meantime, Brahm also built the Himalayan Consensus and African Consensus, two approaches to growth and development that go beyond GDP (check out this YouTube video for a detailed explanation).

“We’ve been using GDP since WWII.  We need a new way to measure growth and prosperity.  We need to look at growth all over again: do we want exponential growth?  No,” he says.

Brahm has spent years, if not decades, setting up social enterprises in the Himalayas; these are small, community-based ventures that create jobs and don’t harm the surroundings.  For instance, he helped revive old Tibetan structures in Lhasa by turning them into hotels, run by local Tibetans and showcasing their culture.  Otherwise, these buildings would have been converted into cookie-cutter hotels by larger companies, destroying years of history and the indigenous culture.

Read the full story at Forbes.com.


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