We are all about sharing, so thought we'd share some of our beliefs about social enterprise, knowledge management, and building the field to make the world a better place.
At seToolbelt, we believe that...
- Social enterprise is the business of solving social problems or market failures by employing entrepreneurial, private sector approaches to increase effectiveness, sustainability, and impact. It is not a "thing", not a legal structure, nor a type of business, but rather a methodology that promotes integrated value creation—financial, social and environmental—to achieve social benefit or change.
- Our tools are not just for social entrepreneurs—they are appropriate to all players across the spectrum of social enterprise actors, ranging from traditional nonprofit professionals to socially responsible business entrepreneurs. All of the tools on our site will help increase organizational efficiency and viability across four key strategic areas: stakeholder engagement, resource mobilization, knowledge development, and culture management.
- Knowledge is power, and power should be shared! By sharing our knowledge with others working in the field, we can help embed social enterprise methodology within mainstream business practice. Barriers to sharing (competitive funding environments, ego, ownership, and proprietary attitudes) only serve to slow the development of the field of social enterprise and limit the potential social impact that could be achieved if we cultivate a truly open-source approach to knowledge sharing.
- You shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel. Social entrepreneurs are problem-solvers by nature, so if you're running into a challenge in your social enterprise, chances are someone else has struggled with the same issue. This is the kind of knowledge, experience, and lessons learned that we hope social enterprise practitioners will share and access through seToolbelt.
- There are some wheels that haven’t yet been invented! Social enterprise is a young and burgeoning field, and the business challenges faced by social enterprises can be different and more complex than those faced by traditional businesses or traditional nonprofits. We hope that entrepreneurs will use seToolbelt to help solve these challenges by connecting with people who are struggling with the same problems, working collaboratively to come up with solutions, and thus helping to advance their own practices and the wider field of social enterprise.
- Tools are meant to be used. Countless public and philanthropic dollars are spent each year to develop workshops, manuals, and how-to kits related to social enterprise, but until now there has not been an easy way to find them. We think that publicly supported resources should be free and easily accessible for the greater good.
- People still need to think for themselves—one resource might work for someone but not for everyone. Resources are not an end-all-be-all or an easy fix. You’ll still need to think critically about how a tool might or might not fit with your organization or situation.
- The crowd is powerful! Just as open source ideology has served to launch a whole movement in software development, we believe that open source sharing, collaborating, and iterating of resources and tools for social enterprise can serve to advance the impact of practitioners working to solve social problems, and thereby the wider field of social enterprise. Here is the theory behind open source sharing for software development. We think it will work for social change, too.
Image courtesy of kattys14.blogspot.com
- We all need to work to eliminate barriers to sharing. Login requirements, registration, fees, and restrictive licensing don't serve to build the kind of open source community for social enterprise practitioners that we will all benefit from. We also recognize that sharing takes work (and resources) and believe that knowledge sharing should be a valued component of any sound organizational plan (and budgeted for accordingly).