In his article “Base of the Pyramid: Sustainable Business from the Bottom up” Robert S. Katz discusses the emerging concept of social entrepreneurship. The idea behind this concept is to build profitable businesses that can fulfill essential requirements, while generating incomes in much-needed regions. Two such entrepreneurs, Martin Fisher and Upendra Bhatt, have succeeded in developing viable businesses that sustain poor communities. One of these businesses, Kickstart, based in Kenya, is focused on providing local entrepreneurs with technologies that are key to their success in their regions, such as oilseed presses and irrigation pumps. These technologies have led to the creation of thousands of much needed jobs in Kenya. While these technologies are not the type of equipment that one would commonly seek out or value in the developed world, their worth in underdeveloped countries is invaluable. The work of these social entrepreneurs is providing these communities not only with a viable hope for an escape from poverty, but is also contributing to the fulfillment of more than just their essential needs as they are benefiting greatly from the sense of accomplishment and fulfillments that comes with being able to provide for yourself and your family.
Katz describes the practice of social entrepreneurship as the base or bottom of the economic pyramid phenomenon because it is focused on reducing poverty while generating profits, thus creating a balance between the powerful corporate world and the poverty-stricken villages.
Social entrepreneurship of this kind is in my opinion just what our world needs: a mix of business skills and social compassion being put to good use while still being profitable and sustainable.
For more on social entrepreneurship and to read Katz’s article please see: http://www.greenbiz.com/news/news_third.cfm?NewsID=30405&CFID=11434638&CFTOKEN=39083007