Ayd Asraf

Corporate Senior IT Executive - Release Team, Aramex International

This conversation is closed.

Which is better social entrepreneurship or business entrepreneurship ? Are all entrepreneurial endeavors truly social at the core?

For social entrepreneurs, the bottom line is to maximize some form of social impact, usually by addressing an urgent need that is being mishandled, over-looked, or ignored by other institutions. For business entrepreneurs, the bottom line may be to maximize profits or shareholder wealth, or to build an ongoing, respected entity that provides value to customers and meaningful work to employees.Some researchers argue that there is little use in making distinctions and that all entrepreneurs should be considered social entrepreneurs because they generate employments and meet needs.

Closing Statement from Ayd Asraf

I would love to thank everyone whom added to this sweet conversation, it has been very useful and building one, and i guess me and each commenter has something added to his thoughts.

let me sum-up major points here that were added by TED community people whom participated in this debate conversation:

1. Business should always server it's customer, and if not then failure is certainly will happen, there is no big evil theory in business, as long as you provide customers with products they need and purchase it means you are adding some value to the community 7 considered to be "social" in the core.

2. The subjective of terms "better, goals & mission" is something that prevent us from having the final thought about this debate as what looks better from someone's perspective , can be considered evil in other's perspectives.

3. There was some different thoughts about " The fundamental reason for a business is to serve the customer if it does not it does not have sales. All business benefits society."

4. "Business entrepreneurs will - generally - walk miles ahead of their social counterparts because of the efficiency inherent in a profit-oriented enterprise. Like it or not, social entrepreneurship has not come of age yet! "

5."we should take every approach to solve our outstanding problems and take note of the outcomes, eliminating the ones that do not work and transferring all resources to the ones which are making progress. Thus while it appears, that business entrepreneruship is most likely to win the day, we should rather not rely solely on it. Competition to get to the bottom of problems seems like the right path (s)".

6. Finally i would deeply reccomend checking some work done by " Michael Porter", to have a wider look into this, you may follow the following links :
http://www.hbs.edu/centennial/businesssummit/market-capitalism/the-future-of-market-capitalism-panel.html
http://bit.ly/haKReH

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    Jul 26 2012: I think it boils down to how you define social entrepreneurship and most importantly how you define "better." If social entrepreneurship is specifically defined as using "business models to solve social problems," then social entrepreneurship is considered by many better than a pure charity model as it is usually more efficient and self-sustaining. Whether it is better than business entrepreneurship, however, is a different question, because here the definition of better is critical. For example, if making more profits is the core of "better" than usually business entrepreneurship makes more profits and intrinsically should because it's priority is profit-making above all else. That does not mean a business entrepreneurship model cannot benefit society, whether by giving jobs (as you mentioned) or even in a social service or byproduct (for example Starbucks does a lot of social work, but their core model is business not social), but that ultimately, that is not the mission of the company or the fundamental reason it exists, which is to make profits. If by better, you mean helping solve social problems, then not all business entrepreneurship models do that, even if they do give employment. For example, tobacco companies may be huge profit-makers and success business entrepreneurship models, but some may argue they hurt society more than benefit society.
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      Jul 26 2012: you just pointed to very important issue about the subjective of terms being used to defining "better, mission & goals". so accordingly we cannot judge the better as there is no stranded to be comparing against. seems very logical, but do you think that we can put a clear definitions for those considering the diversity, or will this always be a matter of subjective judging that will make such question always unanswered?
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        Jul 27 2012: Of course these questions will go answered, particularly when there is sufficient numerical data to clearly show impact. Qualitative data is harder to measure sometimes, but time will really show where there is true success of social entrepreneurship as a business model. This is still early days.
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      Jul 26 2012: TU

      Regarding your statement:

      "That does not mean a business entrepreneurship model cannot benefit society, whether by giving jobs (as you mentioned) or even in a social service or byproduct (for example Starbucks does a lot of social work, but their core model is business not social), but that ultimately, that is not the mission of the company or the fundamental reason it exists, which is to make profits."

      The fundamental reason for a business is to serve the customer if it does not it does not have sales.
      All business benefits society.
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        Jul 27 2012: Agreed in principle Pat. However, some businesses like strip clubs or tobacco manufacturers are serving specific customers' needs but it could be argued that their business model overall harms society more than benefits (again, this is very subjective).
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          Jul 27 2012: Why should someone be able to tell someone else what he needs or wants?
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    Jul 25 2012: Which is better? Business entrepreneurs will - generally - walk miles ahead of their social counterparts because of the efficiency inherent in a profit-oriented enterprise. Like it or not, social entrepreneurship has not come of age yet! This talk about impact assessment itself is so vague and flawed.
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      Jul 26 2012: we cannot deny the fact that business entrepreneurs - in general - has a way more mature know-how, and a more stable & sustainable models, but also we cannot deny that social entrepreneurs did a distributive wave within the markets, and become a very active topic, and also we cannot deny that it made an impact on the business entrepreneurs, as we started to see a new tab in most of the profit based companies titled "community responsibility", this means that social entrepreneurs at some point managed to make a threat - even if it's minor - to the profit only based models, making them consider the social part. and yet i cannot disagree that the debate by itself is vague and has annoyed many of the business researches as it has no sharp answer, but though it still generates many ideas and shows very different point of views which is by itself very useful and amazing. Thanks Wali for sharing us your thoughts!
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    Jul 25 2012: I think we should take every approach to solve our outstanding problems and take note of the outcomes, eliminating the ones that do not work and transferring all resources to the ones which are making progress. Thus while it appears to me and to Michael Porter of Harvard, that business entrepreneruship is most likely to win the day, I would rather not rely solely on it. Competition to get to the bottom of problems seems like the right path (s) to me!
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      Jul 25 2012: Amazing! i agree with you on " we should take every approach to solve our outstanding problems and take note of the outcomes, eliminating the ones that do not work and transferring all resources to the ones which are making progress.",and from my point of view that this competition between he two schools will eventually evolve them both, regarding the winner , the main weakness point i think of for the social entrepreneurship that it lacked the proper sustainable financial model that will make it survive what is called the valley of death era in business cash flow cycle. by the way i had reviewed some of Michael porter 's work and it is a treasure by itself , i really would love to thank for this great resource you just linked me to, hats off Debra!
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        Jul 25 2012: Ayd, thank you so much. May I just try to be helpful a bit and remind you that the expression here is "hats off!" which means taking off one's cap in salute rather than 'head off" which might not turn out so well! Thanks for so much fun!
  • Jul 25 2012: You're right. I hate to admit it, but you're right. I was getting riled up, and the neutral tone of internet text allowed me to peceive a personal attack that wasn't happening. Well, hopefully I've calmed down enough now, I'm sorry. I'll be reading back through your posts carefully and seriously questioning what I have written. Perhaps I'm wrong in believing if we continue on our current course, we face some serious consequences in regards to our way of life and our survival. I think a major issue may be that perhaps we are living vastly different experiences of the world, and mine may be very skewed. Once again I'm very sorry for any mispeception, projection, or miscommunication on my part. All the best.
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      Jul 25 2012: The source of this conflict is the fear mongers who make money by creating the fear. I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh for this reason. Their meme has more of an effect on you than you realize.
  • Jul 24 2012: Wow, you pose some interesting points Ayd, and I only have 2000 characters with which to respond, so here's some schizophrenic, random statements I thought were relevant.

    I think the idea that the two are separate is the root of the issue. The fact that a entrepreneur can even conceive a business that is not socially responsible is a fundamental problem with business today.

    Education and truth are also an obstacle to socially responsible businesses. Pat Gilbert brings up an interesting point when quoting Ayd Asraf here: "If the business did not 'give the needed care to the society' why would the customer buy the product?" I think to some extent the majority of consumers believe that because an organization has lots of ads on TV and their product is available at Wal-Mart they are operating in a socially responsible manner. I mean, who would ALLOW these companies to operate if that wasn't the case, certainly not the US government, RIGHT!? In reality, this is certainly not the case. Many of our products decimate the environment, exploit children and those in developing nations, and in often those that stand to make the most money are those writing the rules and providing the information to the public.

    Perhaps we remove money from the equation completely and have our world economy run on social credits?? The more you do for society, the more valuable you are? How would we measure such a thing?

    Individuals will always act in their own self-interest, and perhaps in the future we will be able to connect every individual's experience with every other individual in the world. We will essentially need to know and to FEEL what others know and feel, DIRECTLY AS IF IT IS OUR OWN EXPERIENCE, in order to understand the implications of our actions. We need to make it in EVERYONE's self interest to improve the situation for everyone else. We need to operate like a hive of bees, communicating telepathically and as one autonomous unit in order to avoid our impending extinction.
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      Jul 24 2012: Many of our products decimate the environment, exploit children

      Do you have evidence that this is true?
      • Jul 24 2012: You don't need to ask me for evidence Pat. If you haven't been convinced by what you have been exposed to so far, there is nothing I can say to change your mind. Instead, try tracking down the evidence for yourself. Take a trip to an African gold mine for evidence of exploited children; take a trip to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to see evidence of a decimated environment.

        The components of the cell phone you use were partially produced using child labor in horrific conditions, the gas you put in your car to drive to the store was produced at extreme cost to biodiversity and balance in the ecosystem. My point is NOT that you are evil for using a cell phone, or plastic bags, or pumping gas, but that the system is fundamentally flawed in that because of the society in which we live, there is no escape. In order to survive in the way in which we have been conditioned, we can't live without these products.

        All you need do is open your eyes and look around you, and allow your mind to accept the reality. Believe that things could be different than what you know or expect them to be.
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          Jul 25 2012: But I'm afraid that I do need to ask you for evidence, it's not that I don't trust you it is just that I know your type...;

          If the child did not work in the gold mine, the cell phone sweat shop, why do they work there why don't they just go back to hunter gather?

          Apparently people would rather have oil than pristine river sands?

          Is this the fault of the people who have conditioned us?

          Things change when the people demand change they carry their own bags to the grocery store, corporations have dolphin safe tuna, why not river sand safe oil, child safe cell phones keep in mid that child may now starve to death because of the lack of the job. I haven't seen it but I envision that seeing a loved one starve to death is as bad as it gets...
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      Jul 27 2012: Spencer most businesses are in business to make a profit and if we are lucky to serve customers. Porter in his many articles in Harvard business review is suggesting a new approach to solve social ills and fulfil their mandate. How did GM do this over the years or Ford or Dupont?
      What he has in mind is for companies to search for profitable ways to addresss soiceties greatest problems. I believe in this and so this is how I would like to do it. Apparently, the third leading cause of death in NA is an infection you get WHILE in a HOSPITAL - not one you came in with - one you get there. That is scary and NGOs and governments have not solved it. I think I can and help the company I work for at the same time. Education! I can do that! I have the training, the will, the conscience for it even if i do not have a direct mandate.I CAN speak to phsyicians and lay people alike and say the truth - which is that many doctors do not understand the relevance and necessity of cleansing their hands with alcohol or soap and that their hands are dangerous to their patients. Let's face it- if staff with short time horizons touch a person with MRSA and then they touch the next already sick person with their hands - why would you expect that person not to get it. It is like planting seeds in rich soil.
      So, If I do my job well, I can make more difference than (or at least as much as some government sponsored program - I still want both working for all of us!)
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    Jul 24 2012: Both kind of mix in with each other so you can't effectively have one without the other.
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  • Jul 22 2012: The Supreme Court of Michigan in Dodge vs. Ford Motor company said that corporations are not charitable organizations (o.k. not elymosinerie organizations or however that word is spelled) When we say businesses we may be limiting ourselves in some countries even if an MBA will be told about stakeholders. In addition, the two(2) sets may overlap. What do you want to do? Find a mechanism to do it without getting in too much trouble. O.K. This is something someone will do. So Joseph Campbell would have told us to follow your bliss. Notwithstanding, the stellar person you are conceiving will be obvious. Maybe persons. Assuming, eiither approach We can get either means producing good outcome. In fact, from business we get Rockefeller, Ford, Carnigie, Gates, Buffett and p;eople I have never heard about.
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    R H

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    Jul 22 2012: I have always believed, theoretically, that 'business' is a subset of economics, which is classified a 'social' science. But it hasn't worked out that way to date, has it. Up until now, 'business' (and its tenets of 'profitability' and 'shareholder value' and 'market stability', etc) has had a focus of dominence, control, exploitation, and the hoarding of vast wealth - often in the name of 'democratic' or 'national' security. Now, maybe we've reached a turning point. The world has gotten too small, too injured, and too accessible to all for such incentives to remain the focus. We are hearing all around the world, in the great universities and in the boardrooms, of the new 'socially conscious' enterprise. But as the economies of nations have become the identities of them, and as many private enterprises are wealthier than many nations, where will this lead? Will we see a socially prosperous amalgamation of incentives and efforts between 'business' and social science leading to the 'promised land' of world-wide social synthesis and harmony, or will there be vast untouchable, unreachable, conglomerate hegomonies 'concerned for the welfare of the multitudes' through their weilding of unmatchable power and dominence? As entrepreneurs today carving out some sense of independence and self determination, is our goal to eventually sell out to the highest bidder for our sovereignty, or to develop and improve a sustainable model of wealth creation for all to benefit? We have to survive. We want to prosper. We love our families. Yet we watch the world evolve around us and the immense powers that are beginning to mature beyond an individual's reach. So are we 'social' or 'business' oriented? Probably, as the learned are saying, both - by default and design.
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      Jul 22 2012: I have no idea what you said (I know,ironic coming from Chicago and all) but it has certain poetic quality about it. Perhaps your bent is poetry?
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        R H

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        Jul 22 2012: Ha! I know. I get that alot. Not the poetry part though. Thanks for that.
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      Jul 23 2012: Thank you very much, you just touched many critical points that should be thoroughly thought of .
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  • Jul 21 2012: I think both social and business entrepreneurship is important for our society and economy, however every business should have at least some degree of social responsibility and be giving back something worth to the society?
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      Jul 21 2012: i do agree with you, each business should have some projections on the the society needs, and maybe that's why we currently started to see some of the big organizations building their own community serving programs.
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    Jul 21 2012: For a really great answer to this question, see Michael Porter;s work in the last 5 or so years. He is a Harvard prof and he is promoting business as the answer to social problems. He has had many great articles in Harvard Review.
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    Jul 21 2012: The purpose of a business is to serve their customer. The profits are a byproduct of this as the customer does not care if the business makes money they only care if their needs are filled.

    The image of big evil business is a myth. Yes all business' are "social entrepreneurs" with one exception, crony capitalists.
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      Jul 21 2012: Your point of view is valid, but if we looked it the real way, do really our business entrepreneurs give the needed care to the society issues and address them with their products? and nowadays i wont depend on the customer to know if there is a need that is being correctly addressed, as they put money in products that are more of luxury than it satisfies basic needs demanded by the socity.
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        Jul 21 2012: What do you mean by "we looked it the real way"?

        If the business did not "give the needed care to the society" why would the customer buy the product?

        "i wont depend on the customer to know if there is a need that is being correctly addressed" Who are you going to use then?

        "as they put money in products that are more of luxury than it satisfies basic needs demanded by the socity." Who determines if it should be purchased or not?
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          Jul 21 2012: Great questions that you just asked, i will have a deep thought in them, while overlooking the whole debate.
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        Jul 26 2012: Haven't answered the questions in 4 days? Just another glib comment?
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          Jul 26 2012: Sorry my bad, Thanks for the reminder :D

          -- what do you mean by "we looked it the real way"?
          i mean inspecting what is going on in the reality, specially in the development countries markers.

          --If the business did not "give the needed care to the society" why would the customer buy the product?
          Because customers started to get lost with their needs, and i am taking here mostly about the development nations as i am so near to their reality, most of customers just buy because they like what they buy, nevertheless around 70% of bough products are either totally not needed, or way over the need (preferring luxury over the one that satisfies the need )

          -- "i wont depend on the customer to know if there is a need that is being correctly addressed" Who are you going to use then?
          I would depend on society needs not customer need, as i define the need that the business should cover that is something demanded by the society in general not a person or specific group of people, maybe it's not the right way to look at it from business perspective at least since as of business theory you should segment you customers, find their needs and fulfill them, but i see that those type of needs mostly doesn't represent a society needs.

          --"as they put money in products that are more of luxury than it satisfies basic needs demanded by the socity." Who determines if it should be purchased or not?
          The customer should, but i tried to point here that i believe there is some kind of immaturity in the consumers behaviors, even though i am not in a position to confirm or deny this, it's just point of view i had upon some inspection in some local markets.
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        Jul 26 2012: Regarding your second paragraph the customer knows his needs and wants better than anyone else to think otherwise is bazaar and a sure fire recipe for failure.

        Regarding your third paragraph the customer knows his needs and wants better than anyone else to think otherwise is bazaar and a sure fire recipe for failure.

        Regarding your fourth paragraph the customer knows his needs and wants better than anyone else to think otherwise is bazaar and a sure fire recipe for failure.
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          Jul 26 2012: Then i have to admit that i used to have an inception that was totally bazaar and could led to failures, so i need to make my knowledge more mature. i would appreciate if you could provide me with some articles, references, or books that will guide me to the correct path regarding satisfying customers needs.

          Patt i deeply admire your way of positive and solid criticism and would always love to see you in all of my conversations and comments, please accept all my respect.
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        Jul 26 2012: My advise would be find out who is making money in your area and study further what they are doing. The key to business is to find out what people want, this requires looking.
  • Jul 26 2012: Sorry,I really don't understand 'better to whom'. That's what is of the most importance.
    I'm new~哈哈
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      Jul 26 2012: Welcome dear 疾风 千影,
      I am delighted that you are here with us. As most of us are truly illiterate in your language could you please help us understand how to pronounce your name phonetically?
      Thank you in advance,
      Debra
  • Jul 25 2012: I don't think you do know my "type" Pat. Please do not stereotype me, it's demeaning.

    In regards to your questions:
    This is exactly my point. There is no way for people in these conditions to escape, because of the global social construct. It is too late for us, or that child in Africa, to return to a hunter-gatherer society because there are not the resources to support such a lifestyle. Once we made the switch to an agriculture-based society, in which how much of something we produced determined our wealth, and staying in one place allowed us to have huge families, we were doomed. We were forced into trading what we produced for goods we needed to survive.

    Say I grew blue berries. I needed to grow enough blue berries to trade for meat, and starch, and shelter to support myself and my family (read: labor force). Immediately my interest is not making sure the herd I follow is sustainable or making sure I have access to a wide variety of food types; my interest lies in exploiting the environment as much as I can to produce as many blue berries as I can to make sure I have enough to trade with other people that are doing the exact same thing, because my SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT. I now am depending on others for my goods and not nature, so there is no connection to my source of survival, it's an indirect food chain. All I care is that I can keep growing blue berries, and I'll do WHATEVER it takes, I'll exploit my OWN children AND the environment if I have to.

    Today, I'm so far removed from what I depend on for survival, that it's nearly impossible for me to tell where the components of what I consume come from, even if I look REALLY hard. I think we are so disconnected from the products we consume, we can never fathom what it actually takes to create them.

    If you want someone to blame, blame the inventor of agriculture. This system will not allow the survival of the human race, and if we continue, we will certainly become extinct.

    Good discussion!

    Read "Ishmael"
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      • Jul 25 2012: You have raised no new points, nor defended your position. Your agressive response and negativity have made it impossible to discuss this further as two intelligent individuals. I was looking for a good two-sided debate, but all you have brought are personal remarks and hate. You are what pollutes the forums and comments sections of the internet. Do not reply to this message.
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          Jul 25 2012: Oh I'm definitely replying, I raised good points. What your perceive as negativity I perceive as telling it like it is. Nothing personnel I'm, just stating the facts. Another case of what the psychs would call projection...