Obama’s Social Entrepreneurship Policy… What and When?

Nathaniel Whittemore over at Change.org has a piece highlighting President Obama/WhiteHouse.gov’s plan on social entrepreneurship. No idea when these ideas will be floated and legislated, where the exactly the money will come from, and how the policies will be implemented once , but here is what Whittemore writes,

“Whitehouse.gov continues the Change.gov and my.BarackObama.com traditions of simplifying the major policy bullet points. So what’s there for the social entrepreneurs?

  • Social Investment Fund Network: Use federal seed money to leverage private sector funding to improve local innovation, test the impact of new ideas, and expand successful programs to scale.
    • If the team does this well, it could be really exciting. I think the way that Good Capital was brought into a larger investment for Adina Drinks in order to focus on the fair trade/social mission side of things could be a good model for partnerships for this initiative
  • Social Entrepreneurship Agency for Nonprofits: Create an agency within the Corporation for National and Community Service dedicated to building the capacity and effectiveness of the nonprofit sector.
    • I’ve written before that I would prefer an Office of Social Innovation in the White House, but this is a great step if it does its job well. We don’t need just another bureaucracy, but I think an in-house shop that could work to collect, structure, and share best practices for training and impact assessment could be tremendously valuable.
  • Promote College Serve-Study: Ensure that at least 25 percent of College Work-Study funds are used to support public service opportunities instead of jobs in dining halls and libraries.
    • Either this idea is new or I just hadn’t noticed it before, but I love this initiative as a tool for inspiring social entrepreneurship. I spent 12 hours a week for all of college working in a gym and then staying up late to develop my social projects. I’d love to see colleges get creative about this so that student social entrepreneurship initiatives, with defined and trackable goals and results, could count towards College Serve-Study. If any one from the Obama team is watching, I’d be happy to share what I think that could mean…
  • Engage Retiring Americans in Service on a Large Scale: Expand and improve programs that connect individuals over the age of 55 to quality volunteer opportunities.
    • This is another real opportunity to promote social entrepreneurship. Young social startups often need skills they don’t have access to, and a pool of professionals could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
  • New Energy for America: Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
    • I mean, do I really need to write about how this could be a huge opportunity for social entrepreneurs.

Funding for these things would come from various parts of the stimulus bill I guess, in fact, only the first two really conform with my understanding of social entrepreneurship policy (as I see volunteerism, education, and energy as separate issues).

As for a Social Entrepreneurship Agency within the Corporation for National and Community Service? The what? No seriously, an agency for Social Entrepreneurship is great, no matter what it is called, for at least social entrepreneurship has a seat at a table. That said, its like sitting at a table full of 3rd and 4th cousins, next to the band at a wedding.

So I guess we will all wait and see how the agency and the investment fund fair in the first hundred days, and more realistically, over the next 4 years. How will this all be executed assuming it makes it into federal policy?

My hunch is that social entrepreneurs, Ashoka, Skoll, universities throughout the world, and others will continue to lead the charge on social entrepreneurship, regardless of when and how President Obama brings social entrepreneurship to the federal policy agenda. If it didn’t happen this way, it wouldn’t be called ‘entrepreneurship.’


5 thoughts on “Obama’s Social Entrepreneurship Policy… What and When?

  1. Dear All GF Friends,

    I think Obama Social Entre[renuership policy is mostly suitable as compared to School Service Study in government offices, or factories where their is no meaningful contribution to community social economic wellfare.

    The policy inspires contribution to community immediate needs, and practical scientific technical developmemt.

    It also encourages collaborrative learnibg process that bridges professional, educational and social economic divide.

    Concern for others promotes peace and unity.

    There is joy in doing good, and offering a service to others.

    Please count all global students on board.



  2. A national office focused on social entrepreneurship might be the first step in crafting a more up-t0-date financial strategy for funding social innovation. Currently most grant funders who partner with social cause organizations are interested only in NPO’s because they satisfy the conditions of 501(c)3 IRS tax designation. However social entrepreneurs don’t have to be NPO’s, and most probably aren’t. This leaves their mission driven objectives floating in the wind with prospects for venture captial limited almost exclusively to specialty venture funds like California-based Good Capital or a few other venture funds that understand the SE marketplace for innovators. Mix in corporate sponorships or private equity funding partners, angel investors, and that’s about it. Having a guy in the White House who gets it ought to make a major difference.

    This is a truly exciting development.

    Mark Lewis
    CEO/Strategic Business Intelligence Group

  3. Pingback: Obama’s Social Entre Policies Becoming Clearer? « Campus Entrepreneurship

  4. Pingback: Obama Launches Social Innovation Fund « Campus Entrepreneurship

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