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VAN Forum

Social Entrepreneurship

July 8, 2008
4:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Mark and Janet Skeie

Black Bear Crossing
Como Lakeside Pavilion

Social entrepreneurs are changing the world for the better. The role of social entrepreneur carries both risk and rewards.

Mark and Janet will talk about their experiences in developing Mapping Your Retirement and share stories from people who have succeeded in social entrepreneurial efforts.

They will present a list of dos and don'ts and information about where to get advice and how to get started.



Mark and Janet Skeie, publishers and editors of Mapping Your Retirement, presented about their Social Entrepreneurship experience a year after forming their idea and how they turned it into action. Mark and Janet, graduates of the ALVA program, developed an idea to start nonprofit called Mapping Your Retirement to help individuals prepare for a healthy, productive, and financially secure retirement.

A social entrepreneur is, “Someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change.” Social entrepreneurs tend to contain vision, be ambitious, are mission driven and strategic, resourceful, and are results oriented people. Bill Frayton, CEO, chair and founder of Ashoka, a global nonprofit organization devoted to developing the profession of social entrepreneurship stated, “Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.” Some famous social entrepreneurs include Susan B. Anthony, Florence Nightingale, Jean Monnet, and John Muir.

The world needs social entrepreneurs due to the constant changing nonprofit environment. Communities are growing in size and diversity, more nonprofits are competing for government and philanthropic funds, traditional forms of funding are decreasing, for-profit businesses are competing with nonprofits to meet community needs, and funders and donors are demanding more accountability from funding recipients. This changing climate highlights the necessity for more social entrepreneurs.

To get started, Mark and Janet urged participants to focus their projects on the common good. Mark stated, “You need to create a project that can become financially sustainable, allows for self-sufficiency, and can give you a financial and social return on your investment.” They also compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to assist on your entrepreneurial journey.
Mark and Janet suggest that you should:

  • Articulate the problem
  • Research the solution
  • Understand the market
  • Create a network
  • Obtain adequate funding
  • Be persistent
  • Stay focused
  • Have fun

Basic don’ts include:

  • Not having a clear decision process
  • Inadequate pricing
  • Insufficient start-up capital
  • Failure to look at the downside
  • Failure to look at industry norms
  • Lack of focus
  • Not “quality” from the start
  • Product never “ready” for market


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