Social Enterprise Forum at Chicago Booth Celebration of Influence in AsiaApril 25, 2015
April 25, 2015 – The University of Chicago Booth School of Business commemorated the milestone of the 15 years since it opened its first location in Asia, by organizing a Social Enterprise Forum as part of its Celebration of Influence weekend.
The event’s first panel on Building the Social Enterprise started with Ms. Shiao-Yin Kuik, Co-Founder and Director of The Thought Collective, characterizing social enterprises as organizations that often take multidisciplinary approaches to fixing the root causes of social problems, and advocated that all good businesses should be social businesses.
|Fr right: Calvin Chu, Partner, Eden Strategy Institute; Ms. Shiao-Yin Kuik, Co-Founder and Director of The Thought Collective; Mr. Allan Lim, Co-Founder of Alpha Biofuels and The Living! Project; Ms. Pamela Chng, Founder of Bettr Barista Coffee Academy; Ms. Anix Lynch, Vice-President of Strategy at DTGO, Chearavanont Family Office; Mr. Vishnu Swaminathan, Leader – South Asia for Ashoka Innovators for the Public; Ms. Chloe Huang, Head of Strategy and Research at The Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise|
Mr. Allan Lim, Co-Founder of Alpha Biofuels and The Living! Project discussed how sometimes the harsher contexts of mission-driven firms help to drive innovation and competitive advantage.
Ms. Pamela Chng, Founder of Bettr Barista Coffee Academy, illustrated this by describing how her social business helps marginalized women and youth-at-risk not only by training them in barista skills, but by supporting their physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Ms. Anix Lynch, Vice-President of Strategy at DTGO, Chearavanont Family Office, asserted that multinational corporations and enlightened corporate leaders such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson are increasingly looking towards social enterprises as investment targets, because they are at the forefront of untapped market opportunities.
“Companies are investing in social enterprises for both financial returns and strategic value. By harnessing economic models to support socially innovative products that successfully serve a need, companies sustain wins for themselves, the underprivileged and their communities, the government, the non-profit sector, academia, and the planet,” she said.
Mr. Vishnu Swaminathan, Leader – South Asia for Ashoka Innovators for the Public, elaborated on the different ways that social enterprises create impact, from offering direct services, to designing ways where social solutions could be replicated, creating systemic change such as with open source solutions, and finally to achieve systemic change where solutions become the norm of society.
Finally, Ms. Chloe Huang, Head of Strategy and Research at the new Social Enterprise Resource Centre, highlighted how social enterprises have the potential to create solutions that may be even more scalable than what governments could offer, and outlined the wide range of support available to aspiring social entrepreneurs. These include knowledge resources, events, corporate mentoring, training, incubation, and funding.
In closing the session, Eden Partner Mr. Calvin Chu summarized how the discussion offered many examples demonstrating how social innovation resolves the perceived contradictions between social and business objectives.
“Social enterprises offer fresh approaches and partnerships to fulfill unmet needs more innovatively and holistically than existing solutions, and offer strong strategic and financial advantage to forward-looking leaders to contribute meaningfully to the civilizational challenges of our age,” he said.