Saturday, January 05, 2008

Cosmos Ignite, Belu Water and British Social Entrepreneurship

Here's The Independent's (UK) Six Finalists for the title of Social Entrepreneur of the Year, 2007. It's a nice perspective on social entrepreneurship from across the pond, and the finalists represent a cross-section not only of focus areas but also of business structure. Cosmos Ignite is a for-profit company focused on making safer lighting and electricity products for developing regions that currently depend on more dangerous methods (like kerosene.) Belu Water donates 100% of its bottled water profits to funding clean water projects.

The Optimist normally focuses on for-profit ventures (like Cosmos) and largely ignores the burgeoning world of non-profits, like Finalist MEND, a childhood obesity program. It's not for lack of interest or respect; if anything we don't think we could do justice to the entirely unique challenges of running a non-profit: it's every bit as competitive as a for-profit these days with the proliferation of charitable organizations, and there's every bit the same requirement of running a profitable and accountable organization. It's just that...we barely have what it takes to cover "Profit and Purpose" businesses- let alone venturing into the non-profit world.

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