Building CSR’s New Generation

CSR can only grow and develop if the next generation can build on the success of this one and learn from their mistakes.

However, those wishing to raise up a new generation of CSR professionals and social entrepreneurs have been frustrated by the lack of global examples. A new book, to be published in May, believes it may help to plug some of those gaps.

Case studies in Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability outlines real stories of social entrepreneurs and the problems they’ve solved from across the world.

By identifying the different examples, the authors hope to help social entrepreneurs develop necessary skills and problem solving abilities. These people remain a core part of how CSR will develop and change.

The aim is to share how to identify root causes of problems and then find and use a solution that tackles that.

In a foreword to the book, Marina Kim of Ashoka, the social entrepreneur organisation, emphasises that research has shown that simply putting a sticking plaster on something does not work. She says: “To effectively address a social problem, the solution must continually adapt and evolve based on market feedback about what works and what needs to change in the model.”

Sustainability is a separate strand from social entrepreneurship, although they do often overlap. Knowing about how others have acted to create a more sustainable environment is key, particularly when it comes to consulting and working with stakeholders.

This is valuable knowledge for learning about how CSR works, and what can prevent it from working. Sustainability can provide opportunities for new business. This does not have to happen apart from CSR goals. Instead economic success can co-exist alongside social capital and preservation of the natural environment – if the right systems and processes are developed.

One of the lessons that the book attempts to teach through its different case study examples is how values impact on business strategies. This is happening more and more frequently, as businessmen and women with a social conscience are helping to shape the markets and society as a whole.

One of the gaps that the book was attempting to plug, was the seeming lack of any formal examples of social entrepreneurship in the field of sustainability outside the United States of America. Although the book does cover examples from the USA – it also casts the net wider.

Consequently, students can learn about really inspiring social entrepreneurs. These include Fabio Rosa, who has provided Brazil’s poor with solar powered electricity, Swiss-based company Dr Reddy’s which develops affordable medicines for poor people across the world, and Altis, which provides microfinance in the very rural agricultural areas of Nepal.

By reading about how these people have overcome real barriers, the way is paved for the next generation to come up with new and powerful solutions.

Photo credit: Luis Argerich