Mission-driven value proposition
lecture by Silvia Pulino from JCU
In an ever-changing world, let’s not take lightly the power of social entrepreneurship, because it’s one of the most effective and essential instruments to tackle the countless social and environmental problems that we face today. This is not meant to be an overstatement, but it is to highlight the importance of the social impact it generates, consequently, improving the lives and the welfare of a community. Moreover, if you associate innovation with social entrepreneurship the outcome is a superpower of social change.
Remember, a problem is never a problem but an opportunity, through its hidden potential. Especially when it comes to social problems, by tackling the latter we can create a business that serves to the benefit of all involved in the process of creating social value. In this article, i will discuss a lecture given by Professor Silvia Pulino, from John Cabot University , who is also the Director of the JCU Institute of Entrepreneurship, on how to create a business model for growth under uncertainty and scaling up a business with social and economic goals, by taking a real life-case study of “MADE BY SURVIVORS”.
“THE DAY MY GOD DIED”
One of the world’s greatest issue is “Sex-Trafficking”. The ILO¹ definition of the latter is: “the recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving of a person using threat or force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud or deception for the purpose of exploitation.”. Using data from a 2017 ILO report², women and girls accounted for more than 99 per cent of all victims of forced sexual exploitation, and two thirds of the estimated total of US$ 150 billion, or US$ 99 billion, came from commercial sexual exploitation. Moreover, according to ILO, more than 70 per cent of victims of forced sexual exploitation were in the Asia and the Pacific region.
To heal the survivors of the sex-trafficking physical safety, medical treatment, physiological support, care of children, reuniting families are needed. Also through empowerment, by giving them access to education, employable skills, acceptance by society, financial independence, health and wellbeing, dignity and hope. Social issues, as such, are neglected when factors such as lack of awareness, lack of voice or means, lack of ideas about problem solving, lack of models for a business approach, lack of courage are summed up, therefore what is needed? How can we use an entrepreneurial process to develop a business solution to a social problem? The answer is the dual mission model.
“MADE BY SURVIVORS (MBS)” now called “HER FUTURE COALITION”, was funded by Sarah Symons and her husband John Berger, inspired by a documentary on sex trafficking and a visit to a Nepalese non-profit, that helped women freed from sex trafficking (survivors), Symons conceived the idea for a business that would help survivors become financially independent and restore their lives. With Berger’s help, she launched MBS to sell handicrafts, stationary, and home-made goods in the US thus providing them a source of income. To grow sales, the co-founders tried different means of selling: altering the product mix, partnering with suppliers, starting production in their town and designing products to increase appeal to US customers. However, like in any other enterprise, challenges occurred but the business is still up and running today. In fact, in her own words, Sarah explains “John decided to leave his career as an investment banker, and to use his business strategy experience to help set up the organization – first called Made by Survivors/The Emancipation Network and now Her Future Coalition. Over the years we have served thousands of survivors in India, Nepal, Cambodia and Thailand. Most exciting to me is the fact that the survivors who joined our programs a few years ago are now managing the programs, working as trainers and mentors to newly rescued girls. They couldn’t imagine any future at all when they were living in brothels. Now their dreams are limitless!“.
We can only be what we give ourselves the power to be.
Native American Proverb
This is, among many, a perfect example of a “dual mission model”. We can also mention, if not in detail, “TOMS SHOES” where they use the aforementioned model to help communities in need, by providing goods to sell in the market thus creating additional resources for them. These cases, demonstrate the power of social entrepreneurship and the power of individuals, that through a business process create social value by improving collective well-being and strengthening self-sufficiency, thus contributing to slowly changing lives and boosting social impact.
¹ International Labour Organization