Posted by: Dawud Israel | April 7, 2008

Dynamics of Muslim Social Enterprise?

Lately I’ve been working on a social enterprise. For those who do not know what that is, it is basically a business you start that achieves something that directly impacts society and the world in a positive way.

It has different mechanisms of doing this:

1) The business sells a product or service that is socially conscious. Buzz words here include ethical and fair trade etc. An example of this would be the environmentally friendly “green” businesses which are growing in popularity. Check out TreeHugger for more on green issues.

(Solar Powered Refrigerator meant for cold storage in hot climates)

2) The business uses a fixed percentage of its profits to help out a cause. Examples of this include Mecca Cola and Ummah Foods Chocolate bar which send money to Christian and Muslim Palestinians.

3) The business uses money as a tool or medium for a cause that has nothing to do with money. This is complex and requires some devising and scheming but essentially none of the parties are interested in money but use it to sustain a cause by working it through various channels. This is similar to my business ideas and I won’t share them today but perhaps later in the future–when I have something complete!

But there is much more at stake and happening in the world of a small social entrepreneur. Here are some key issues and concerns that are peculiar to this area:

1) Theory vs. Practical: Sometimes people have an idea or a plan but can never follow through on it. Either they day dream too much wasting their energy dreaming of all their wealth and not focusing on the reality of work in front of them. Chances are you will have problems (and every business encounters this, it’s just when we do something good the world seems against us) and so you should focus on solving those problems. Usually people have already encountered your problem so all you have to do is look around as to how you can potentially solve an issue. Imagining in terms of practical issues (What about technology like the refrigerator in the picture above, perhaps it can help?) and other people’s creativity enriches your own.

2) First world vs. Developing world Gap: There is a big gap between you and I sitting in the West and thinking how we can solve a problem thousands of miles away. Typically most of our efforts settle on doing something small that really won’t have a big effect and then we disillusion ourselves thinking its all hopeless. There really is no way around it–you cannot expect to induce a massive amount of change by doing next to nothing–it requires a massive amount of effort. And if you are prepared to do whatever it takes, it will just be mentally and psychologically easier on yourself. Realistically speaking it requires thinking and being the problem and getting intimate with it in order to tackle it successfully. Many times people pose solutions without fully understanding what they are trying to solve and it goes nowhere. Not only that but there is something blatantly hypocritical about living in a mansion and think yourself “righteous” because of a few small deeds. When people get intimate with the problems and issues (in some cases, “living” the problem) they gain an immense amount of insight into the issue and problem–often to the extent they will come up with a solution that will easily solve the problem–especially if this person is a creative, well-informed individual.

3) Originality of Idea and Entrepreneurial Approach: The greatest motivator for a business is to know that even if you do not profit–you are still achieving something substantial. There is a statistic that says 80% of all small businesses fail and even if you are failing, you are still making a mark and it may bring forth some investors or inspire someone else. The originality of your idea and your approach is what determines EVERYTHING! It is not rare to hear of people coming up with an idea that solves major world problems—but the approach of it ruins the potential.

4) Good is Profitable: This is almost a spiritual concept that has its presence in the business world as well. When a company does something good and beneficial to humanity–this benefits their reputation and even benefits their profits. The thing that people don’t realize perhaps because its a spiritual concept is that anything that is evil destroys and it even destroys itself. But anything good prospers. People do not do good deeds because they associate it with charities which are always asking for donations. But a business that does good is more likely to succeed than one that does not. In short, Good deeds=Profit Guaranteed!

These points are really pivotal for a successful small business that wants to create positive change in today’s world and they represent a totally different business approach than the one we see around us. This business model is much better than the ones used by corporations because not only can it be more successful but it will be more sustainable in the long run.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk. Ameen.


Responses

  1. […] New HalfDate Drive! There is a brand new drive going on at Halal Drive and alhamdulillah, it ties in nicely with my previous post about Social Entrepreneurs. […]


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