Social businesses may provide a creative new way to help Haiti
Education is a key to lifting up post-earthquake Haiti. Social businesses may serve as an effective way to raise badly needed funds for schools.
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And because each social business is tied to a school, it is providing long-term economic support to its community. Each business is providing those living and working in the community with vital services and products that will help its residents rise above sustenance living to a degree of prosperity.Skip to next paragraph
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Selling Poultry and Bread to Educate the Young
Working with leaders from the seven schools, Haiti Partners and Grameen Creative Lab have identified two opportunities for new social businesses. The first will bring the four Haiti Partners schools in Léogâne, including the Henri Christophe school, together to start a poultry operation that will sell broiler chickens.
The second social business in development is a bakery for a Haiti Partners community school in Belle Platon on Gonâve Island. The community, which is located in one of Haiti’s most isolated places, has serious needs.
Community members in Bawosya, in the mountains four miles south of Port-au-Prince, have also started planning another social business to support Haiti Partner’s Children’s Academy, a school that is now under construction.
As I consider the long-term structural challenges facing Haitians, I have a growing sense of confidence for the role social business can play here. As outlined on the Grameen Creative Lab’s Web site, the 7 Principles of Social Business offer a formula:
- Business objective will be to overcome poverty, or one or more problems (such as education, health, technology access, and environment) which threaten people and society; not profit maximization.
- Financial and economic sustainability.
- Investors get back their investment amount only. No dividend is given beyond investment money.
- When investment amount is paid back, company profit stays with the company for expansion and improvement.
- Environmentally conscious.
- Workforce gets market wage with better working conditions.
- …do it with joy.
This model has definite appeal in Haiti and other impoverished nations and might even be a model for communities in the United States. At the very least, it can serve as an inspiration for new approaches and ideas.
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