Social Entrepreneurialism

I have a number of clients, mostly from Berkeley or San Francisco, who believe that making money is somehow intrinsically bad. So, they only will consider working for a nonprofit or the government.

I often introduce them to another option which offers the opportunity to make good money while honoring their nonprofit values. I call it social entrepreneurialism: coming up with a business idea with an underpinning of nonprofit values. Today, for example, I saw a client who dislikes capitalism and money-making so at age 36, despite a bachelor’s in history and masters in journalism from Berkeley and a law degree, she has been making less than $20,000 a year, and living on the edge. I asked her what issues she cares about. She said, “I’d like a society with less individualism and more community.” She said she enjoyed hearing stories of the Depression, during which residents of a block looked out for, rather than ignored each other. I then asked, “Why not write a book called “Community: Why We Lost it; How to Regain It.” Then, based on what you learn, develop a consulting business in which you help the residents of a block to establish a sense of community. What do you think?” After a reflexive revulsion at the thought of asking people for money, she’s considering it.

An example of someone who did more than think about social entrepreneurship is Craig Newmark, founder of Craig’s List. He started an online bulletin board where, for free, everyone could find everything from a car to a one-night stand. He made money only from employers placing job listings. That was enough to have created jobs for 14 employees while making millions of people in 48 cities around the US happy, with no environmental or other side effects.

If you have nonprofit sensibilities but are tired of the poverty, perhaps an answer is social entrepreurialism. Ask yourself: What money-making idea could you pursue that would make the world better?”

© 2007, Marty Nemko

*    *    *

Marty Nemko holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and subsequently taught in Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. He is the worklife columnist in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle and is the producer and host of Work With Marty Nemko, heard Sundays at 11 on 91.7 FM in (NPR, San Francisco), and worldwide on . 400+ of his published writings are available free on that website and is a co-editor of Cool Careers for Dummies. and author of The All-in-One College Guide. E-Mail.

Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Statement
Menstuff® Directory
Menstuff® is a registered trademark of Gordon Clay
©1996-2019, Gordon Clay