Tag Archives: Rwanda

How many socially entrepreneurial acts make a social entrepreneur?

By David Russell 

There are as many questions raised, as answers I have found,
in social entrepreneurship.

As a Reynolds Fellow at NYU, I am fortunate to have the opportunity
to explore some of these questions as they pertain to the projects on which I am
presently engaged.

How does one optimally prioritise scarce resources? What are
the most effective means to secure support for a cause? Where can greatest
value be added?

Such questions are not unique to social entrepreneurship,
but they are just some of the issues that I am addressing on work with the Rwandan
Survivors Fund (SURF) and HelpAge International (HAI).

With the 15th Anniversary commemoration of the
Rwandan genocide next year, the needs of the estimated 400,000 survivors in
Rwanda are still great. SURF’s approach to the support it delivers to survivors,
through raising awareness and funds internationally, is defined by a holistic
philosophy. It recognises that it cannot address any need in isolation -
whether that be shelter, healthcare, education, employment. There is a
necessity to develop programmes that are integrated to provide the
comprehensive support that many survivors still require.

For SURF, how does one optimally prioritise scarce resources?
By listening to the needs of the survivors, and prioritising resources
dependent on the issues that are most pressing as determined by them. What is
most effective to secure support? Giving a voice to the survivors, empowering
them in the process to speak out for themselves. Where can greatest value be
added? Through channelling funding through local grassroots survivor’s
organisations, to enable them to own and deliver the programmes.

With the UN International Day of Older Persons approaching
on October 1st, the challenge for HAI is how to engage the international
community to address
our aging society. The approach I helped to develop is an adaptation of
community organising, to
mobilise
older persons across countries to empower them to meet with their respective
Governments and call for improvements in national policies on aging – through a
programme called Age Demands Action.

For HAI, how does one optimally prioritise scarce resources?
By developing a programme of direct action, which for a minimal cost can
deliver a maximum impact. What is most effective to secure support? By
identifying and engaging those in policymaking positions, and empowering the
older persons to demand action directly from them. Where can greatest value be
added? By leveraging the Government to deliver services that otherwise would
not be met by the private sector.

But often answers lead back to further questions. And when
the questions relate to social entrepreneurship, they ultimately lead back to
how the work is sustainable; scalable; pattern breaking?

And therein lies another question: How many socially
entrepreneurial acts make a social entrepreneur? And another: Does it matter what the work is called, as long as it doing good?