By Park Hee-jung
``No venture, no gain.” Whether it is in Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States or a remote village on the other side of the earth, the yellow dandelion survives and reminds us of the marvels of life.
In retrospect, I see that time has rapidly passed. I realize I should have worked harder, shared and served more. As written on the tombstone of the English playwright George Bernard Shaw, ``I knew if I stayed around long enough, something like this would happen.” Let’s not forget everyone dies one day.
A few weeks ago, while delivering a speech in Washington, D.C., U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, emphasized the role of corporations in providing everyone with ``economic growth, social equality, and environmental sustainability.” Later, professor Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist, introduced the concept of Grameen Bank’s microfinance program while eBay showcased a new microfinance concept called MicroPlace in 2007.
Adhering to the motto ``invest wisely, end poverty,” they invested in poor developing countries and tried to end poverty and also open a new market by actively entering developing countries.
Former eBay president, Jeff Skoll, built the Skoll Foundation, which is a socially innovative enterprise. Harvard and Stanford MBA graduates left top investment companies like McKinsey and Goldman Sachs to join social enterprises and play a pivotal role. There are many successful, international social innovation companies like Ashoka, Acumen Fund and Endeavor Global. Endeavor Global is based in New York and has 15 offices around the world, has raised 600 social entrepreneurs from 28,000 applicants, created 150,000 jobs, and is making 4.5 billion dollars per year.
Why are so many CEOs interested in the poor and social enterprises? Companies are expanding their role to fight poverty. In addition to the noblesse oblige of the haves, now companies must change from good firms to great and loved ones, because they hope that if rich people show social responsibility (including companies) they will establish themselves as leaders of a social honor system.
Poor people are moving rapidly geographically, so the distribution of poverty is diverse. Social enterprises are playing a huge role in ending poverty in various regions and this has changed the distribution of poverty. An organization that represents this type of social entrepreneurship is MYSC (Merry Year Social Company).
MYSC is a social innovation company founded by experts and company presidents who have more than 30 years experience in finance, consulting, and law. It is developing a Korean social enterprise model by cooperating with the world’s top social innovation institutions like the group SOS from France and the Ashoka Foundation of the United States.
Also, the cooperative organization MYSC is supporting Malawi, India and Vietnam and developing towns, which even the United Nations cannot do. They are helping North Korean refugees operate a coffee shop in South Korea and building a factory to provide work for them.
Additionally, they are supporting social entrepreneurs by supporting refugees from the North who have difficulty adjusting to life here. In 2007, South Korea enacted the Social Enterprise Fostering Act and as a result, social enterprises increased from 36 in 2007 to 645 at present.
This atmosphere is also extended to the activities of college students. I have been a judge of SIFE (www.sife.org, www.sifekorea.org) and participated in their presentation in Korea for two years. Like their catchphrase ``A head for business, a heart for the world,” SIFE is a global non-profit organization cooperating with companies and universities to help college students change local communities positively and become responsible business leaders.
When I was a judge, I was so moved by the students’ presentation that I thought, ``I want to bet on SIFE students.” They contemplate economic, social, and environmental projects to help the poor and realize the improved world they dream of. They ``think and contemplate” and imagine a better world. I hope they will become innovative and reverse innovative visionaries in order to open a new BOP (bottom of the pyramid, which is the largest but poorest socio-economic group) market by creating bigger and newer values than Facebook or Google.
Why not have beautiful competition among young people who leave Wall Street offices to create new values? ``Young people are the future of a nation.” Young people with good conduct who keep their ideas and creative abilities are the future of the country. There are various projects for them to contemplate, become independent, and cooperate with migrant workers, farmers, fishermen, the disabled, single mothers, youths and the elderly.
As the U.N. secretary-general emphasized in his speech, ``I hope young college students will create new values with warm hearts, passion, challenge, and effort.” That is what I realized while studying under professor Gregory Dees at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. He is referred to as the father of social entrepreneurship education, and is responsible for spreading the MBA course at both Harvard and Stanford for the first time in the United States.
The writer is a law and entrepreneurship graduate from the Duke University School of Law. He is also a strategist for the President’s Office of The World Federation of United Nations Associations. His email address is email@example.com.