I am posting on this subject here before dealing with it over at my other blog Milestones for a New Millennium. This blog allows me far more philosophical latitude, making it more of a learning tool for me, and I am still exploring these concepts.The question is whether it is possible to create economically sustainable enterprises that help the billion at the bottom of the economic ladder in a uber-consumer world? It seems obvious that efforts to break into a market will require innovation, but are the cards so stacked that such efforts are hopeless, especially in fields such as Healthcare? After watching this talk by Clayton Christensen, I am going to say no, that a sustainable social-entrepreneurial model is very viable.
To my mind, this is closely tied with the the concept of creative-destruction. I don't, taking counsel from Robert Solow, see its founding proponent, Joseph Schumpeter as the savior of 21st century economics as some do, and especially not of activists seeking change through social enterprise,.
Which brings us to the "democracy" in Schumpeter's title. He was not a democrat by instinct or by reflection. He had little confidence in the ability of the average citizen to vote intelligently...
At the same time Solow saw that Schumpeter realized that:
Anyone can invent a new product or a new technique of production. The entrepreneur is the one who first sees its economic viability, bucks the odds, fights or worms his way into the market, and eventually wins or loses. Each win means profit for the entrepreneur and his backers, and it also means a jog upward for the whole economy. In the course of this process, which cannot possibly run smoothly, many businesses, individuals, and institutions, themselves founded on earlier successful innovations, will be undermined and swept away. Schumpeter called this birth-and-death process "creative destruction," and realized before anyone else that it was the main source of economic growth.
Creative-destruction is still a useful means, more descriptive than prescriptive, of looking at the world. The disagreement is with what actions we take with that knowledge. What disruptive innovations allow social-entrepreneurs is a means of striving in the world without having to beat the leading-edge of established corporations.
Other posts on creative-destruction
Creative-Destruction, Entrepreneurship And Innovation
The Awards And Risks of Innovation: Embracing Destruction And Creation
Consumerville USA Versus Creatorville USA