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Social entrepreneurs have helped millions of people in difficult phases of their lives to tackle challenges which they could not tackle on their own. This book takes a look at social entrepreneurship from the point of view of psychotherapy and economic culture. Interviews are held with Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace prize who promotes the concept of Social Business globally through his idea of micro credits, Bill Drayton, Alisa del Tufo, Earl Martin Phalen and others, all of them involved in constructive, positive projects. So what are the ingredients for their success? How did they manage to turn their vision into reality? Important is the fundamental belief that new things can develop and that support can be found. Further, trusting your own perception and intuition, never losing a sense of gratitude and being resilient (ESSE, elements of success of social entrepreneurs). The entrepreneurial spirit of these people helped them overcome many difficulties. Irrespective of whether they are involved in health care, the reduction of poverty and/or violence or in environmental protection, the focus of their work is always on early prevention, rather than on the treatment of symptoms. This book raises hope that together we can find solutions to the burning issues of our time by joining forces with each other and with those who have a vision and a will to make it happen.
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Monika Korber, PhD; MA, BA psychotherapy science Mediator and psychotherapist, systemic familientherapy, life- and social counsellor; lecturer at Sigmund Freud University, SFU Vienna; lecturer at other institutes such as University Institute ARGE Bildungsmanagement; Mediation Training Institute I.A.M.S.; Experience in practice, teaching and research (non exhaustive list): Private practice in Vienna and in Lower Austria; Coaching in organizations and companies; Participation in inter-ministerial working groups
Previously: BEST Personality Training; Head of a child protection center; Child and Youth Ombudsoffice in Vienna; Initiative and implementation of professional mediation in schools in several districts in Vienna within the Kinder- und Jugendanwaltschaft – Project turned into association „together“ – founding member;
Expert opinions for the Austrian Health Ministry; International working experience (research, psychosocial field, tourism) in India, Europe, etc.
Reaching your goal
How do social entrepreneurs feel, think and act and what are the ingredients for their success?
2. Core Motivations
2.1 Formative experiences
2.2 Questions of Meaning
2.3 The Good as the Reason for Action
2.4 Faith in the Human Potential for Development
3.1 Honouring the Support Received
3.2 Actively Searching for Support
3.3 Personal Limits and Things which Cannot be Influenced
3.4 Cultural Aspects
4. Confidence - Feelings
4.1 Personal Perception and Intuition
4.2 Being Touched
4.3 Spiritual Dimension
4.5 Unconscious Factors
5.1 Personal Responsibility and Willingness to Take Risks
5.3 Out of the Box Thinking
6. Obstacles – Difficulties
6.2 Lack of Trust
6.4 Financial Issues
Appendix – for the interested reader
References and Notes
What can I say about this book, other than that - apart from it being a very interesting topic per se, it is extremely interesting due to the profound expertise which Dr. Monika Korber has acquired throughout her many years of working as a professional.
Monika Korber’s knowledge of social business was deepened by the conversations she had with key social entrepreneurs throughout the world. In writing this book she is now passing on this knowledge to others. It will be most helpful to all those who want to fulfill their own professional and existential dreams, too, also with the aid of this book.
This book is special, bearing in mind that she did not study the world of social business merely to be able to write a book about it. Monika Korber’s focus has always been helping others. It comes as no surprise that she chose a profession in the areas of health and social affairs which she pursues with more than average commitment and competence. Most of those who have had the pleasure of meeting her and who have benefited from her work, be it clients, students, colleagues, family members and friends can testify this. Myself, I have had the opportunity to be convinced by her professional devotion over the years that she is a trainer at the International Archaic and Modern School (I.A.M.S.), my training institute which has been certified by the Austrian Ministry of Justice and the Chamber of Commerce.
I warmly welcome you to read this book which has the potential to help you change your life.
Director of I.A.M.S.
Social and Life Counsellor
To all positive people.
Sincere appreciation to ALL of you who contributed directly or indirectly to this book, some amongst them are listed here: Ravi Agarwal, Jenny Baer-Pásztory, Jeroo Billimoria, Bill Drayton, Thomas Druyen, Jutta Fiegl, Patricia Kahane, Michael Kierein, Judy Korn, Kathrin Mörtl, Heinz Laubreuter, Rebecca Onie, Earl Martin Phalen, Alfred Pritz, Johannes Reichmayr, Bernd Rieken, Marco Roveda, Gloria de Souza, Alisa del Tufo, Götz Werner, Muhammad Yunus.
Heartfelt thanks to my family and to all my friends who have supported me in their individual ways and measure.
And my deep gratitude goes to my LifeCoach who’s contributions have been invaluable to the content and in the realization of this oeuvre.
This is the central theme of this book which is based on the results of a scientific study I undertook.2 Helpful factors and mental patterns which have supported the sustainable success of the social entrepreneurs I spoke to are described. The psychotherapy sciences are especially suited to try to find answers to subjective complexe matters. My practical experience as a psychotherapist, counsellor and mediator helped me to gain insights.
On a general note psychotherapy can help people change their attitude and behaviour so that they suffer less.3 They feel better understood and learn how to deal with other people and situations more constructively. As a consequence their suffering and illness can be reduced and health and wellbeing can increase, making them more able to meet their individual challenges.
Generally psychotherapy can help to create a more humane environment. It contributes to constructive changes in society such as helping us meet the challenges of our time with focus and courage, such as in social business. This publication sheds light on some of the extraordinary personalities of the rapidly growing third sector,4 the economic sector which is non-governmental and not primarily profit orientated.5 Other terms used for it are the non-profit sector, the civilian sector as well as parts of the charity sector.
The book tries to illustrate some of the inner structures of social entrepreneurs combined with socio-cultural and scientific aspects. The findings are based on personal conversations I had with social entrepreneurs in various parts of the world. All of them have realized their ideas and visions and turned them into success. They have managed to find solutions to a number of problems faced by millions of people. These problems relate to a variety of areas, including the health and education system, prevention of domestic violence and the environment. They speak of an enormous transition which is underway, for instance how much a paradigm change has become necessary in education and training. Marco Roveda, a social entrepreneur who works in the environmental area uses drastic words: “People need to change if they want to survive.”6
Some elements of the success of these personalities can serve as guiding principles. An increase in the awareness of social business might encourage people to try to make their own dreams and ideas come true. This was one of the reasons I wanted to write this book. All over the world social entrepreneurs go new ways, develop new models and take on social responsibility. This is a particular issue in the professional environment which is becoming tougher and tougher for many. I would therefore like to briefly take a psychotherapeutic view on this part of our life.
Work and Mental Pressure
Working conditions can lead to a deterioration of our health, both physically and mentally. One of the underlying causes for why work environments can be damaging is that often the main focus is on profit maximization. Most work practices are geared towards this focus, often ignoring other values. The individual and collective exploitation of people, resources and our planet are the consequences. Human beings and the natural environment are doomed to pay the price.
Mental health problems caused by pressures at the workplace are on the rise. There are many symptoms, including various types of anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and burn-out.7 Since 2013, Austrian companies are duty bound to examine workplaces with regard to mental pressures. Another important achievement of some of the Austrian federal provinces is access to psychotherapy financed by public health insurance, but still a lot remains to be done. In the public health sector Austria set a milestone with its Psychotherapy Act in 1990. Internationally it can be considered best practice.8
A team of psychologists and psychotherapists working with Wittchen estimated the annual costs of the inability to work and of impaired social relationships as hundreds of billions of Euros. The most frequent symptoms are depression, sleep and anxiety disorders. When comparing the results of the various countries no significant cultural or national differences were found. The study showed that, already today, mental and neurological illnesses represent the highest cost factor in Europe.9
Reasons for the disorders are quoted as pressure to perform, mobbing and a lack of acknowledgement, to mention just a few and many issues related to the ever increasing presence of the digital world. Some health insurance providers now focus on mental illness prevention within companies. A positive example of prevention is the European campaign “Work. In tune with life. Move Europe.”
The authors of the EU study consider mental disorders the largest challenge for European health policies in the 21st century. The economic losses which companies suffer through the amount of sick leave taken due to mental disorders plus inefficient working hours is enormous.10 According to a report by WIFO, the Austrian Institute of Economic Research in Vienna, the damage to the Austrian economy caused by non-treatment of mental disorders is approximately 2.8 billion Euros a year. Here future-orientated and responsible actions by those in charge are called for. Decisions urgently need to be made to reduce the enormous economic damage caused by health problems including mental health. Those responsible may have the chance to demonstrate sustainability and vision as well, but they will certainly achieve cost efficiency in any case.11 Within only a short period of time the benefits would be quantifiable. In his book “Happy Princes”12 Thomas Druyen argues that health should be defined as wealth. Druyen sees the prevention of illness as a constructive element of the culture of wealth. “The conscious preservation of health is not only a rational necessity, but also an ethical responsibility towards the community”.
He also states that
“the culture of wealth is based on the conviction that every human being has the duty to use his or her wealth beneficially. If we truly lived our culture of wealth, this would add value to the way we deal with ourselves and with others.”
Every wage earner remembers situations where she or he was not able to work as efficiently as usual, was not able to perform as well due to psychological pressures e.g. family trouble, problems in relationships or psychosomatic problems. And this is without being diagnosed as being mentally ill. In case of mental illness the reduction in work performance is even more pronounced.
A central task of psychotherapy is to contribute to “… reducing or removing existing symptoms, changing disturbed behavior and attitudes and supporting maturation, development and health.”13
Mentally healthy human beings recognize their own capabilities and can make use of them. Some of these people could become social entrepreneurs, employing these capabilities for common welfare and contributing towards solutions to problems in our society.
What is a Social Entrepreneur?
Over the past few years the terms “social entrepreneur” and “social business” have become quite familiar in the German-speaking countries.14 In the English-speaking part of the world, they have become the “big words in town”.
There is no single definition for “social entrepreneurs”. The various definitions, which different authors use, reflect their self perception and world view and the individual scientific approach they follow. For instance Achleitner and her co-authors use a broad definition. “A social entrepreneur is a person whose prime aim it is to find a solution to a social problem by applying entrepreneurial tools.”15
Entrepreneurial activity to try and solve social problems has been known throughout history. It took various forms and was given various names. Many state-run, confessional and other institutions, which are now taken for granted in modern and post-modern societies, were initiated by social entrepreneurs such as Hermann Gmeiner (SOS Children’s Villages (SOS Kinderdörfer), Maria Montessori (education, schools) and many others. The phenomenon of the social entrepreneur is not new.
Concepts of social business are becoming more and more attractive. Over the past few years the third sector,16 the non-profit public welfare sector, has received more and more attention in Germany and Austria. So what is the spirit of social entrepreneurship? Thomas Druyen describes it as follows:
“the ability to act entrepreneurially and charitably at the same time, to bundle activities, to create synergies or open up new knowledge, to recognize societal inequalities and reduce them efficiently.”17
Rigid economic and societal thinking patterns have long been challenged by critics and pioneers. The economic crisis in 2008 with all its consequences confirm that they are right. We are in the midst of an enormous global transition characterized by societal, ecological, economic and political processes. Social entrepreneurs and their impact on society are important players in this process. However, this certainly does not imply that the state can shrug off its responsibility. This is often used as an argument against social entrepreneurship by its critics. By following its vision, social business has enabled millions of people to lead a more humane existence with a higher standard of living. A leading example globally is Professor Muhammad Yunus who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Starting off in Bangladesh he developed a system of microcredits which helps many poor people to survive, to enjoy work and to develop personally.
In this book the English terms “social enterprise” and “social business“ are treated as synonyms. David Bornstein’s translated publication “How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas” helped to introduce the term “social entrepreneur” into the German language.18
Although other concepts such as “Corporate-Social-Responsibility” (CSR) contain the word “social”, many of them do not take the social aspect too seriously. Companies with CSR-departments call themselves “social businesses” in the hope that this may give them a competitive advantage. Profit maximization remains the prime aim for many. They are only marginally interested in tackling social problems when supporting a social project.19
The term “entrepreneur” is derived from the French where it has been known since the 17th and 18th century. An “entrepreneur” is someone who does something, who becomes active. The French economist Baptiste Say gave the term its specific meaning around the turn of the 19th century: a person who supports economic progress by a project or activity which finds new and better ways.20 Years ago the combination of the terms “entrepreneur” and “social” would have seemed contradictory in many countries, despite several historical examples which illustrate that this combination is indeed possible (e.g. hospice care).
J. Gregory Dees, director of the Centre for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, defines the social entrepreneur as a business person with a social mission. In his article “The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship” he combines models from the research on entrepreneurship.21 He includes Jean Baptiste Say’s theory of added value, Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of the change agents, Peter Drucker’s thoughts on the search for opportunities and those on “resourcefulness” by Howard Stevenson.22 Dees summarizes the role of social entrepreneurs as “change agents” as follows:23
“adopting a mission to create and sustain social value (not just private value);
recognizing and relentlessly pursuing new opportunities to serve that mission;
engaging in a process of continuous innovation, adaptation, and learning;
acting boldly without being limited by resources currently in hand; and
exhibiting heightened accountability to the constituencies served and for the outcomes created.”
It is an idealized definition. Its criteria are met in a host of different ways by the social entrepreneurs I spoke to. According to Dees, the more completely a person fulfills the above criteria, the more she or he fits into the model of the social entrepreneur. But to gain a deeper understanding of social entrepreneurship, he suggests that the ideas of the authors above should be used for additional orientation, as, in a world of frequently blurred boundaries, some of the criteria might in fact be applicable to both business and social business alike.24
According to Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka (the global association of social entrepreneurs), social entrepreneurs are people whose holistic business approach helps to find sustainable solutions to a number of problems. They are passionate and have high ethical values. Ashoka has developed a way to identify such people.25 Drayton speaks about social entrepreneurs as “men and women with system changing solutions for the most pressing social challenges of our world.”26 He was one of the driving forces in coining the term “social entrepreneur” and making it known. Some of Bill Drayton’s statements and insights from the interview he gave me are included in this book. Drayton defines the following selection criteria for Ashoka fellows. They must have
a new idea to solve a critical social problem
high ethical standards
an entrepreneurial personality
high creativity and
the vision of an extensive social impact of this idea.
The psychotherapist Ryzard Praszkier and his co-authors similarly describe social entrepreneursas passionate, ethical individuals who solve large social problems using new approaches.28 The social scientists and economists Johanna Mair, Ignasi Martí as well as Roger L. Martin und Sally Osberg reflect extensively on the definition of social entrepreneurship.29 They quote the following components, amongst others:30
the identification of a condition which causes human suffering and which cannot be overcome by the affected group itself;
taking action to improve this condition substantially within society - for the affected group and
Muhammad Yunus is one of the most prominent pioneers of social business and one of the interview partners of my study. Through his ground-breaking system of microcredits Yunus proves that inhumane business habits can be changed fundamentally for the benefit of the poor and disadvantaged. His model of microfinancing is being emulated globally and enables the poor to take advantage of bank credits. Thanks to him, social business has received large momentum globally.32 Yunus distinguishes two types of social business: in the first type the focus lies on the benefits for society, such as enabling access to food, housing, education, health care and prevention of violence, instead of maximizing profits for the owners of a company. In the second type the poor become actual shareholders of the company. In this case the social benefit is seen in their corporate ownership. The management of the company establishes transparent criteria for the classification of poverty.33
The difference between the social business person and the business person is the way he or she uses the profits – either primarily to invest in ways which benefit society or else primarily to serve his or her own benefits.
Martin and Osberg argue that straightforward entrepreneurs, too, are also often not motivated by the expectation of financial profit either. What motivates them makes the difference, but also what the profits are used for. Seen from an ethical perspective, it certainly makes a difference whether profits are used for personal benefits or whether they are invested primarily to improve common welfare. To quote the social scientist Gregory Bateson34 ‘it is the difference which makes a difference’. Yunus’s social business model of microcredits serves as an example to illustrate this. The bank he founded, the Grameenbank and the various social businesses which have arisen from it are designed to make a profit. This profit is reinvested into the bank and its projects with the aim of providing more and more people with the necessary help and support to improve their quality of life. Profits are not used for personal benefits.
Finally my definition of the term “social entrepreneur”. It is a pragmatic one, which leans towards that of Ashoka. The main focus of the social entrepreneur is the social concern. Key for him or her is to deal with social problems and achieve a change of the undesirable situation. So:
“A social entrepreneur is a personality who is aware of urgent problems of those who cannot solve these problems themselves. She or he will take action responsibly and join forces with others in facing these challenges locally and in the wider context and finding sustainable solutions using creative, entrepreneurial approaches. The entrepreneurial approach is a means to reach this aim.”
The following chapters approach the complex topic of how do personalities who have managed to realize their visions and dreams feel, think and act by having a look at some of the ingredients for the success of social entrepreneurs.
What motivates continuously successful social entrepreneurs and which factors have helped them is illustrated in this chapter. The insights were gained, amongst others, by a psychotherapeutic scientific study which forms the basis of this book.35
The main aim of the study was to find out which elements are helpful to social entrepreneurs in implementing their social ideas, dreams and projects.
This chapter describes some of the formative experiences of social entrepreneurs which influenced their decision to become one. They speak of experiences which touched them deeply emotionally and which motivated them to take action.
They describe deep emotional experiences in one or several phases of their lives (childhood, adolescence, adulthood) which left a mark and which became an important incentive for what they do. The formative experiences include both positive and burdening ones. Both produced strong emotions including anger, shock, grief, surprise or joy.
Prof. Muhammad Yunus describes formative experiences in his daily confrontation with people who were dying of hunger – right in front of the university where he lectured. He felt the strong need to do something, to become active. This personal confrontation shook him to the core. He described how he saw how close life and death were to each other. Side by side. It was often difficult to distinguish whether mother and child were still alive or not. It became impossible for him to continue teaching his students economic theories, explaining to them how economy works, whilst people were dying right in front of the university. They were dying, simply because they did not have enough to eat. He felt the urgent wish to help, to be of use somehow and started to get into motion.36
“I wanted to see if I can be of some help to one individual, just one individual. So I was not thinking about the whole country, all the problems, just help one person. I don’t know what that help would be, I said, as a human being I can stand next to another human being and offer myself to help him or help her in any way I can.”37
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