Business Models Beyond Profit – Social Entrepreneurship Lecture

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by: Alexander Osterwalder

Last Monday I gave a three hour lecture on Business Models Beyond Profit at Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany. It was in the context of impACT, a pan-European student competition in social entrepreneurship. Find the slides of my presentation below.

It’s a really exciting topic and I am a firm believer in the combination of "doing good" and "doing well". In my opinion the traditional frontiers between nonprofits focusing on social and environmental impact, and corporations solely focusing on profits will disappear – because of new and innovative business models. So many young professionals want to make a difference, but are not willing to forgo decent salaries. Personally, I think that’s not a contradiction. The challenge is to come up with the business models that combine both impact & profit.

Michael Shuman, author of Going Local, nicely summarizes why I think nonprofits must be replaced with different business models (and I’m speaking with the experience of somebody who worked in the HIV/AIDS and malaria field):

There’s a very good argument that many of the attributes of typical nonprofits – heavy reporting requirements, self-reappointing boards, poor access to capital, awful labor standards (in the name of the public interest) – make them lousy vehicles for social change…I think we need to rethink the structure of do-good enterprises.

In my presentation I mainly focused on showing how the Business Model Canvas can be used to describe and design "new" models like Grameenphone, MyC4, Grameen Bank, Kiva and more. Have a look and tell me what you think.

By the way, we are looking for funding to write a social entrepreneurship version of our book Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers. We know that this would be of immense value and that it would have a huge audience. Organizations like the Skoll Foundation, Ashoka and others are likely to be interested, but we don’t have the contacts there…

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