Smarta at the i-Genius World Summit 08 – Part I

The i-Genius WS08 for Social Entrepeneurs is without a doubt the most original summit Smarta has attended this year. The summit took place last week in Phuket, Thailand, in the incredibly designed and eco-friendly Indigo Pearl resort.

The summit featured some famous speakers, the likes of Chris Crammer, former president of CNN International, and Isabel Maxwell of Grameen US, but its main value came from the interaction of its 70 inspirational attendees. A mix of entrepreneurs (not all necessarily of the ‘social’ label), students, NGOs, media organisations, business investors that all shared one simple vision and passion: to actively make the world we live in a better place.



Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for igenius conf.jpgGiven the variety of attendees, the question of ‘what is a social entrepreneur’ was inevitably raised and discussed in some length. The fact that it is still being hotly debated within the discussion threads of the facebook group that was promptly created after the event is testimony to the gray areas that arise from the meeting of the Social and Commercial realms of the Enterprise world.

There was thankfully a high level general consensus we could bring home. This revolved around two main considerations:

  1. Intention: social entrepreneurs are people who set up a projects, initiatives or businesses for the main purpose of instigating positive social or environmental change (thereby distinguishing them from ethical businesses or businesses with a social conscience).
  2. Methodology: using the tools, structures and business principles of a corporate enterprise (thereby distinguishing them from traditional charitable or non-profit ventures).

Making a profit, an uncomfortable issue for many social entrepreneurs, was also healthily discussed. Again it was generally agreed that making a profit should be a perfectly natural element of any cycle of a sustainable business, social or other. If social impact is your primary driver, there is no need to be ashamed of generating profit. This can only help you make a greater impact.

Smarta, a Social Enterprise with a big E, couldn’t agree more on this. The more we grow, the more we will re-invest into making what we’re building better for our community.

Part II to follow shortly on some of the highlights of the event. In the mean time, let us know your views on what makes a Social entrepreneur (and what doesn’t)..

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