Business leaders break stereotypes, change world

Five panelists encourage young businesswomen to pursue social entrepreneurship By Vicky Shi The world can be hideous. Poverty, AIDS, genocide, hunger, dirty water, and unsanitary living conditions – these are some of the blemishes. The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population makes up 5 percent of global income, according to Globalissues.org. Today, the most prominent challenge is providing education and resources to enable change. The Philanthropic Business Panel at the eighth annual Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business Intercollegiate Convention encouraged business leaders to dispel negative stereotypes and change the world through social innovation. The five panelists come from various backgrounds, but they share one desire: to use entrepreneurial skills to make a difference. These leaders defy the perception of business owners as greedy and wealth-obsessed. They assert that integrating financial principles with philanthropic goals is possible. “At one point you can have it all: shared value, working for profit, and making a difference,” said Clotilde Dedecker, co-founder of Circle of Women Inc., which is a nonprofit that promotes women’s education in developing countries. Some panelists enact global change as a side job. Although Kelly Peeler is a full-time investment banker, she is also the executive director of Business Across Borders, a nonprofit that targets high potential entrepreneurs to spur economic growth in the Middle East. One audience member challenged Peeler to explain how she reconciled the negative reputation of banking with her philanthropic pursuits. “Banks will only change if people are there to change them from inside,” Peeler said.

“At one point you
can have it all.” -Clotilde Dedecker

(more) Vicky Shi, “Social Entrepreneurship,” Pg. 2 Panelists offer advice All the panelists encouraged the audience to pursue social ventures. “Just start doing something,” said Peeler, who started her nonprofit as an undergraduate student at Harvard University. “Use resources and leverage connections.” The panelists urged the audience to shatter self-doubt. “Don’t be afraid to fail. Perfectionism is self-torture,” said Bret Carr, partnership specialist “Don’t be afraid to fail. Perfectionism is self-torture.” - Bret Carr at Ashoka’s Youth Venture. “Surround yourself with people who say, ‘Yes, but.’” The panelists closed the session by differentiating between “doing well” and “doing good.” “Anyone can get rich,” said Amy Blais, Managing Director of Development for Teach for America. “But where will you have the most impact? What brings you the most joy?” The panelists are people who diverted from the usual path of finding a job, getting rich, and settling down. Instead, they disrupted the status quo to enact change. “This panel really opened my eyes to the potential we all have as social entrepreneurs,” said senior accounting major Elaine Hui. Perhaps other attendees will be inspired to take the same route as the panelists. ###

SEO: Successful entrepreneur offers advice Successful entrepreneur encourages creating social ventures
Co-founder of Circle of Women offers advice to students to change the world By Vicky Shi For students who want to make a difference in the world, the first step may seem out of reach. As co-founder of the nonprofit Circle of Women, she offers advice on how to translate philanthropic goals into a successful organization. Dedecker led the Philanthropic Business Panel at the eighth annual Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business Intercollegiate Convention to encourage businesswomen to pursue social innovation. She studied postcolonial history and literature at Harvard
Clotilde Dedecker, successful entrepreneur, offers advice to aspiring social innovators. Photo source: Circle of Women website

University, which is where Circle of Women began. The nonprofit has now expanded to 14 chapters across the nation. Circle of Women promotes women’s education in developing countries by building and renovating all-girl schools in places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Dedecker also manages operations for another nonprofit called Joan Hornig Philanthropy is Beautiful, a designer jewelry line that donates profits to the charity of the purchaser’s choice. Every organization starts with an idea. “Find something you love, and make it count,” Dedecker says. “A business won’t succeed if it’s not something you’re passionate about.” Furthermore, every organization needs funding to grow and make an impact. Entrepreneurs must convince others that their organization is worth the investment. Set a longterm plan. Above all, be genuine, or investors won’t want to help you,” Dedecker says. (more)

Vicky Shi, “Success,” Pg. 2 Once the organization flourishes, Dedecker says to “put your heart into it.” The success of social enterprise depends on the passion of people behind it. Dedecker, with her two thriving businesses, illustrates the triumph of social entrepreneurship. Students who follow her advice may one day find themselves in her position of success. ###