What is social entrepreneurship and how does one go about it? This was the main questions the inspiring panel of IESE professors and business leaders tackled this afternoon at the Sustainable Brands Conference panel in Barcelona. As Sonia Ruiz, founder of NOIMA put it, social entrepreneurs do two things. First, they uncover a social or eco challenge and create a company to solve it. Second, they employ a system analysis approach to solve the root of the problem.
The success of a social enterprise hinges on two things – reversing moral disengagement among people and companies and positioning one’s enterprise in the right way.
The first speaker, Professor Antonino Vacarro of IESE’s Department of Business ethics, kicked off the panel discussion with the fascinating story of Addiopizzo, an antimafia NGO that has introduced an antimafia certification in Sicily. In his view, the success of a social enterprise hinges on two things – reversing moral disengagement among people and companies and positioning one’s enterprise in the right way. Addiopizzo, for example, is positioned not just as an antimafia initiative, but as a company with a mission to provide a dream for Sicily. Professor Vacarro stressed the power of leveraging one’s network to inspire change.
The second speaker, Merjin Everaaarts, founder of Dopper, discussed how his social enterprise, which is focused on reducing plastic waste, engages consumers by making things “fun.” Dopper uses eye-catching, humorous advertising, flash mobs, etc. to create awareness among people. For example, in light of the upcoming summer Olympics, Dopper advertisement print features the five Olympic rings made out of recycled plastic bowls.
The final speaker, Miguel Neiva, creator of COLOR ADD, explained how his company, which provides an identification system for colorblind people, has leveraged media coverage to positive social impact for over 350 million people around the world.
The main lesson from today’s panel is that one needs to be resourceful and persistent in order to create and run a successful social enterprise. Changing people’s behavior in a way that creates lasting positive social impact requires sound business acumen as well as creativity and perseverance.
Elitza Kostova, SB Barcelona 2016 Volunteer, MBA Class of 2017, IESE Business School