Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Get Rich by Doing Good

Last year at the Skoll World Forum for Social Enterprise, I asked fellow Canadian and founder of Trader Media Corporation turned uber-social entrepreneur, whether it was possible to get rich AND do good. "Of course!", he replied. "It just takes longer and you have to work harder".

In the UK where I live, there is a social enterprise for families who care for a son or daughter with disabilities. It's called " Cool2Care" and it's been creating quite a buzz (see yesterday's Financial Times). I first met the founder of Cool to Care, Phil Conway, three years ago when he was starting his new business. A former IBM marketing executive, Phil is also the father of young son with autism. His own experience trying to get suitable carers from his local government authority drove him to innovate. Cool2Care incentivizes young people to become trained as caregivers, then matches them with families who have been allotted social care funds to pay for respite. Because all the employees of Cool2Care work from home (including its CEO and founder), the agency fees are much less than those of local government or other completely for profit care enterprises. Families are able to make their social care funding go further.

Cool to Care doesn't exist in Canada, but enterprises like it will surely spring up. Canada is now the only country in the world that boasts a Registered Disability Savings Plan. The RDSP is a tax sheltered savings tool that allows people to accumulate wealth to use for care, housing or leisure. Even if governments cut back social service and health care funding, as was announced in today's Globe and Mail, there will always be a need for good care provision in the community and there will be people who can pay for at least part of it.

With ageing populations, it is worthwhile for students of business to pay close attention to social enterprises like Cool2Care. As one Canadian social policy analyst sagely remarked, "There's gold in all that silver!"
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