The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Strategic CSR - Social Entrepreneurship

The article in the url below highlights flaws in what it terms “the trendy field of social entrepreneurship”—the framing of developing world problems based on a Western perspective and then proposing out of context solutions without fully understanding the real-life complexities.

The article, in particular, focuses on a competition, initially proposed on Harvard Business Review’s website, to design a $300 home to alleviate housing needs in poorer parts of the world, such as in India’s slums:

But one expert has been left out of the competition, even though her input would have saved much time and effort for those involved in conceiving the house: the person who is supposed to live in it.

The article then goes on to outline why “the $300 house will fail,” explaining that many residents already have equity of up to $3,000 in their current properties and are unlikely to surrender that value, while importing ready-made constructions will disrupt the local employment of laborers, carpenters, plumbers, and so on. In short:

The $300 house will fail as a social initiative because the dynamic needs, interests and aspirations of the millions of people who live in places like Dharavi have been overlooked. This kind of mistake is all too common in the trendy field of social entrepreneurship. While businessmen and professors applaud the $300 house, the urban poor are silent, busy building a future for themselves.