In Portland: Greg Dees on scaling social innovation

Social Enterprise

In Portland: Greg Dees on scaling social innovation

The father of social entrepreneurship education is visiting Portland this week, with stops at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and Mercy Corps.

Greg Dees, who helped found social innovation programs at Duke, Harvard, and Stanford, was recognized by the Aspen Institute and Ashoka with their first Lifetime Achievement award for his pioneering work.

From the Portland Business Journal:

Starting a business is difficult. Keeping that business afloat can be herculean. Both can be markedly more challenging for social entrepreneurs.

"We know from business entrepreneurs that keeping a business alive is a challenging task," says Greg Dees..."Layer on top of that a social mission that can limit your options and it becomes even tougher."

So how can a social mission limit the choices a social enterprise can make? In multiple ways, according to Dees, but it typically involves balancing an organization’s mission with the need to generate revenue...

One way around the thorny issues that can arise when launching a social enterprise is to put innovative ideas to work inside a larger organization.

"I tell students they don’t need to go out and start their own organization. In some ways, we have more organizations that we need,” Dees says.

Hear Dees speak at the Pacific Northwest College of Art Friday, November 9 from 7-9pm: “The Open Solutions Society: Taking Social Entrepreneurship Seriously” (free).

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