A wish list for 2009: Building the next generation of social enterprise

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<p>As we bid adieu to 2008 and begin to peek into 2009, it is time to take stock of where we have been and make plans for where we'd like to be.</p>
<p>In many ways, 2008 was fantastic for social and environmental enterprises.&nbsp; More &nbsp;investors take this business model seriously and provide capital to take the good ideas to the next level.&nbsp; Another crop of entrepreneurs entered the space, bringing new ideas to the task of solving old problems.&nbsp; More importantly, there is a developing infrastructure to provide formal support and financing for these people who dare to think beyond the old "shareholders and only shareholder's interests count" business model.</p>
<p>At the same time, only the hopelessly na&iuml;ve could overlook the challenges that the current global financial crisis poses for this space in the coming year.&nbsp; It not easy raising money and launching a business in a good economy; now, a credit crisis combined with an untraditional business model means social and environmental entrepreneurs will have to hustle even harder to get on firm financial footing.</p>
<p>Maybe I'm crazy, but I am actually fairly hopeful for the new year.&nbsp; The new leadership in the United States is saying all the right things about directing investment to build an infrastructure that will support the next generation of business, not mindlessly throwing small tax rebates at people to get them to buy more unneeded stuff. The old model of doing business has been so hopelessly beaten up right now that people are more willing than ever to look for fresh ideas and new models.&nbsp; If there was ever an Administration that was amenable to the idea that you can do well financially while doing good for the world around you, it's Obama's.</p>
<p>So, here is my wish list for 2009.&nbsp; If these happen, social and environmental businesses will be well positioned to take it to the next level when the recession passes:</p>
<p>1)&nbsp; A strong advocate in Washington DC, someone that can make a case for a pool of money to be made available at favourable interest rates specifically for social and environmental entrepreneurs. We need to be part of the massive stimulus package that is coming down the pike early in 2009. Maybe this can come through established interests in DC, like the Skoll foundation or the Center for American Progress, or maybe we need to form a kind of trade association for ourselves, but it needs to happen.</p>
<p>2) A big pot of investment funds for new enterprises. There are already a lot of environmental entrepreneurs out there with ideas to help build a green economy. Money from the stimulus to create millions of green collar jobs shouldn't just go towards providing established construction interests with money to install solar panels and building insulation. It should also go towards funding the next generation of efficient technology and ecological services.</p>
<p>&nbsp;3) Make social enterprise par t of the core curriculum at business schools, instead of an optional or add-on course of study. While most B-schools offer courses designed to provide an introduction to social enterprise, they make it clear these businesses are well outside of the mainstream. B-schools need to stop teaching like it's the 1980's and embrace a new business model that actually incorporates the concepts of good citizenship and community responsibility as core business principles.</p>
<p>&nbsp;This is my wish list for 2009.&nbsp; What's yours?</p>
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