This blog has led to action - make sure to visit the

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Take away from Socap2008

I was at Socap2008 today, and the one thing I will remember from the sessions I attended is this recommendation to people who want to change the world to "follow the money":
great entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett are doing philanthropy because they recognize that there are things to do beyond building great companies that make a lot of money. And when they decide to address an issue, it becomes an important issue for the rest of the world.
This is excellent news...

The one flag I have on this is that this process feels like it may be fishing in the dark: if you take a flashlight and point towards the water, you will attract a lot of fish. But if your goal is to remove all fish from the pond it may not be the best way. What happens to things that are not important to the rich guys?

It is great that people at the top of the pyramid are helping people at the bottom, there should be one more things they do when they get into it: instead of (or in addition to) focusing on "mission driven" efforts and on addressing specific issues, they should also consider investing in platforms (people, basic infrastructure) that will allow people who need help to help themselves.

For example: funding non-profit (that I see as beta test programs to establish blueprints), then help them evolve from cost centers to zero-cost or profitable centers by either becoming for-profits (as happened with micro-finance, MFI being turned into profitable businesses) or becoming programs that are licensed to the government because they are fixing social issues better than how the government was doing before (as Tom Siebel is doing with the Meth Project).

I believe that this is what Muhammad Yunus recommends when it talks about creating hybrid structures. And this is where philanthro-capital really will meet social capital.

And since this is my blog: if you are Bill Gates and you are reading this, this is why you should consider invest in the Entrepreneur Commons :-)