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How social business can create a world without poverty

We need 'social business' to couple the human heart to the capitalist system.

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Bill Gates caused a stir in Davos last month with his call for "creative capitalism." He pointed out that while capitalism is "responsible for the great innovations that have improved the lives of billions ... to harness this power so it benefits everyone, we need to refine the system."

I see traditional capitalism as a half-developed structure. It ignores the humanity within all of us.

Moneymaking is an important part of humanity, but it is not the only part. Caring, concern, sharing, empathy – all of these aspects also must be considered when developing an economic framework that takes the whole person into account.

Enter the missing piece of the global development puzzle: social business.

Social business – not a charity

A social business is not a charity. It is a nonloss, nondividend company with a social objective. It aims to maximize the positive impact on society while earning enough to cover its costs, and, if possible, generate a surplus to help the business grow. The owner never intends to take any profit for himself.

As evidenced every day by religious ministers and practitioners, social activists, and philanthropists, making money is not always the only driving force. They may be a special group of people who makes it visible, but the desire to help others exists in various degrees in every human being.

Capitalism's limits

Traditional capitalism doesn't tap into that universal desire. Capitalism delivers limited results because it takes too narrow a view of human nature, assuming people are one-dimensional, concerned only with maximizing profits.

Capitalism has long been a source of prosperity, spurring industrial, technological, and social progress in North America and Western Europe. But even as standards of living rise, large numbers of people are still left behind.


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