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Bringing social business to the foreground in Calgary
Category: Microcredit | By CMC-2011, 13-Sep-2011 | Viewed 5510  Comments 0
By Alan Tong

Calgary's vibrant entrepreneurial spirit has resulted in its place as the city with the third largest amount of corporate head quarters in Canada. Many people and organizations in the city's business community  are imbued with the same vibrancy and can-do spirit of Calgary itself.  In addition to playing the role of the economic engines in the city, Calgary businesses and business people have been working to improve the lives of less fortunate people throughout the world through social business and social entrepreneurship.

Dr Mohammed Yunus, Nobel Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Bank, an organization that provides microfinance credit to poor people with no collateral, notes that social business and social entrepreneurship are similar but are two different concepts. On one hand, a social business is a very specific structure of a business: a non-loss, non-dividend company with a social objective. Whereas the larger field of social entrepreneurship describes an initiative of social consequences created by an entrepreneur with a social vision. This initiative may be a non-economic initiative, a charity initiative, or a business with or without personal profit. 

Microcredit, the granting of very small loans (microloans) to those in poverty designed to spur entrepreneurship, belongs to the field of social entrepreneurship. On October 1st, The Danish Canadian Club is playing host to the Calgary Microcredit Conference 2011. Steve Rickard, co-chair of the conference feels that, "Social entrepreneurship addresses the needs of a business to make a contribution beyond making a profit for the shareholders." He goes on to describe social entrepreneurship as, "A proactive business model that contributes to a socially redeeming cause;  is good for the world; but more particularly it is inherently edifying for the people operating the business."

Rickard is a firm believer in the old adage, "Teaching a man to fish is far more effective than giving him fish" and feels microcredit is a good way to do this. Says Rickard, "Microcredit non government organizations are engaged in social entrepreneurship and they have made working capital available to 190 million borrowers. Children, aging parents and otherwise handicap people are cared for by borrowers at the rate of five dependants per borrower. In effect, social entrepreneurship is now affecting nearly one billion people."

Rickard was first attracted to microcredit and social entrepreneurship because, "…it had become the greatest anti poverty tool known to mankind. As a small business owner,  I realized that there is a tragedy in unrealized potential and that providing access to working capital was one of the best ways to develop the individual and their community."

Rickard feels Calgary's successful corporate community could play a role in Dr. Yunus's plans regarding social entrepreneurship and social business. He feels Calgary is a generous and caring city that could be a leader in this field.

For more information on the conference visit us at


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