People. Planet. Profit. Blog
Welcome to the first edition of "People. Planet. Profit.", the monthly publication of Left Brain/Right Brain Productions' official blog. Featuring inspiring people in media and entertainment, stories from around the planet, and best practices for profitable social enterprise.
By: Left Brain/Right Brain Productions
This month we feature interviews with Craig Farkus, Executive Producer of Instant Karma Films; Bosnian author, inspirational speaker and performer Nadja Halilbegovich; and Marc Lane, President of the Social Enterprise Alliance - Chicago chapter.
MARC LANE, Social Enterprise Alliance - Chicago Chapter President (www.MarcJLane.com)
Chicago attorney and financial advisor Marc Lane is an innovator in helping social enterprises and social entrepreneurs leverage capital to maximize financial results while driving positive social change. He designed and teaches the Social Enterprise course at Northwestern University School of Law where he is an Adjunct Professor of Law. He is the pioneer behind the Advocacy Investing approach to mission-related investing (www.AdvocacyInvesting.com). A Director of Social Enterprise Alliance, the national association of enterprising nonprofits and social-purpose businesses, he spearheaded the launch of its Chicago chapter, which he serves as President and a Director. And he is the force behind Illinois' L3C legislation, authorizing the new hybrid business form which can leverage foundations' program-related investments to access trillions of dollars of market-driven capital for ventures with modest financial prospects, but the possibility of major social impact. Marc is the author of Profitable Socially Responsible Investing? An Institutional Investor's Guide, Advising Entrepreneurs: Dynamic Strategies for Financial Growth, Legal Handbook for Nonprofit Organizations, and Representing Corporate Officers and Directors. His treatises Social Enterprise (American Bar Association), and Corporate Governance and Fiduciary Responsibilities: Representing Officers, Directors, Managers, and Trustees (Aspen Publishing), will be published in 2010.
What is SEA, and how did you come to found its Chapter in Chicago?
The Social Enterprise Alliance is the only membership organization in North America to bring together ventures that achieve their primary social or environmental missions using business methods. SEA is building a vibrant and growing community of social enterprises, advocating their interests and providing a robust educational, information-exchange and networking opportunities for them.
Spearheading SEA-Chicago is a reflection of my commitment to help ameliorate social problems. It reflects my long-standing interests in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial finance, nonprofit management, philanthropy, corporate governance and socially responsible investing.
Social enterprise in the Chicago area is thriving. Nonprofits which have adopted earned-income strategies and social-purpose businesses are collaborating across sectors and missions to drive positive social change. Increasingly, funders, lenders, investors, business and law students, academics, professionals and consultants are enthusiastically joining our ranks because they also see merit in applying market strategies to generate social value.
What's the biggest mistake most for-profit social enterprises make, and how can they avoid it?
For-profit social enterprises fail for the same reasons other for-profits fail. They may lack the leadership or innovation they need. The may be undercapitalized. They may not know how to market or serve customers as they should. The may suffer from operational inefficiencies, poor businesses skills or an unhealthy cultures.
Worse still, social entrepreneurs may be unduly optimistic and see their missions as inevitably overcoming any obstacle. For that reason, they may stubbornly refuse to cut their losses.
But most critical to the venture's success is its ability to balance profit and mission. Failure to recognize that tension, above all else, is probably the for-profit social enterprise's biggest mistake.
Yet, social enterprises benefit from unique positioning which, if managed well, can help avoid, or at least mitigate, the pitfalls to which they are often prone. That positioning can attract passionate employees whose talents can be efficiently harnessed, other stakeholders who have a rooting interest in the venture's success, and loyal customers who see the organization's mission as offering an irresistible value position.
Can business save the world?
Businesses can only move the dial if the people behind them demand action. Corporate shareholders can insist that the companies whose shares they own lead by example, promoting social justice, diversity, human rights and respect for the environment. Social enterprises must be taken to scale, building, protecting and tapping into their human and intellectual capital for both financial and social returns. To demand less is a missed opportunity with potentially tragic consequences.
Learn more about Marc Lane by visiting http://www.MarcJLane.com