Friday, January 16, 2009
For the problem of poverty, many solutions have been attempted. The answer to these problems has often been non governmental organizations and charities that address a specific goal, such as providing affordable medical care or clean water. Also they often depend on donations. A lot of good comes out of these organizations and they have been responsible for serious positive developments throughout the world. However, these organizations appear to have structural limitations that preclude them from fully addressing the magnitude and diversity of the problem. Being dependent on donations, much time and resources must be spent on raising more funds. Also, the amount of good an organization can do will always be limited by the generosity of others, which, unfortunately fluctuates.
For lasting, continuously increasing gains to be made, the communities that are being helped must become independent and self sustaining. Also, the humanitarian organizations themselves can become independent of outside funding and self sustaining if creative approaches to social business are taken. What is needed is a paradigm shift away from the old fund raising charity model of non-profit organizations toward a more self sufficient social entrepreneurial model. For example, an organization that wanted to provide education about sustainable agriculture could invest in farm land and raise produce to sell for profit that would then be reinvested in more development. All along, the land can be used as laboratory to teach the community about innovative farming techniques as well as providing employment.
Organizations that are built on this model could expand much more readily than organizations that depend on handouts.
There will always be a place for hand outs when there really isn't any other way of providing the resources for a community to sustain itself. If there were no resources at all there would be nothing for a social business to work with. However, it is desirable for the future of humanitarian operations to be shaped by those who make use of entrepreneurial skills, not for profit, but for, massive, lasting social change.