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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Social Entrepreneurs: A Pleonasm


I love skimming an eclectic mix of magazines for relevant FOR IMPACT thinking. I particularly love Letters from the Editor.

This month’s (March 2009) ODE Magazine (Tagline: For Intelligent Optimists) has a particularly compelling insight from Jurriaan Kamp. Kamp’s title is APPLES & ENTREPRENEURS.

What do the terms “ORGANIC APPLES” and “SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS” have in common?

Kamp says both are pleonasms. (I had to look it up. It means unnecessary repetition.)

“What’s an apple that grows without chemicals? It’s just an apple. If any kind of apple needs a modifier, it’s that kind that isn’t grown organically. Those we should call ‘chemical apples’.”

He echoes Peters, Collins, Drucker, Suddes and Fellers with this great line: “LANGUAGE IS IMPORTANT.” (See CHANGE YOUR VOCABULARY for more on this.)

He says the current definition of ‘SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS’ is primarily concerned with the CONTRIBUTION (product or service) they make to SOCIETY.

Kamp’s huge point, and very well taken, is that ALL entrepreneurs are really SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS. As he says, “What other reason could there be to start an enterprise other than to make a useful contribution to society?”

“Doing good shouldn’t be a special ‘enlightened business’ category. Shouldn’t we always try to do good? Shouldn’t we always strive to make things work for people around us?”

“After all, that is – to honor Adam Smith – in our best self-interest, since nothing is more fulfilling than knowing we’re making a positive difference in someone’s life.”

From Kamp (and Suddes):

Entrepreneurs should be entrepreneurs. And apples should be apples.

P.S. I’ve taken the liberty of attaching the entire letter. It’s that good. There is also a solid contribution to this whole SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR conversation and a great article on Page 36, NEVER LET A CRISIS GO TO WASTE.